February 12, 2010
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Switch
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Broadway Business, 320 pages, $26.00, Hardcover, February 2010, ISBN 9780385528757 Chip and Dan Heath, brothers and scholars, won the inaugural 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year Award with their first book, Made to Stick. That book, despite being a newborn, also made our list of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. When the publisher sent me the advance copy of Switch, I was concerned about the “sophomore slump” that happens in sports and music, whether due to a true drop in quality or critical backlash due to expectations. Still, I dropped everything and stretched out on my couch to read, and I can tell you that Switch might even be better than Made to Stick. In Made to Stick, the Heaths offered a methodology for how to make your ideas memorable. And, of course, one of the things the Heath brothers excel in is creating their own sticky ideas. They use clever acronyms, catchy phrases, and unusual connections that we can easily remember and reference for future situations. In Made to Stick, it was SUCCESs, and the “curse of knowledge” among other memorable lessons. Switch is about making change happen, despite our tendency to fight it. Here the Heaths teach us about the Rider—or rational mind—and the Elephant—our emotional mind— and how change needs a partnership between the two in order to “shape the path” ahead. We also learn about TBU—true but useless—which, undiagnosed, can lead to decision paralysis. To explain an antidote to decision paralysis, the Heaths tell of a small community in South Dakota that had been losing young people at an unsustainable rate. A group of high school students decided to do something. In the past, decision paralysis ruled efforts like this because the problem was so overwhelming and the potential answers so numerous. The students commissioned a survey and discovered that half the residents shopped outside they county. The first step was to ask the residents to support local businesses, which in turn became the first step in a successful revitalization program. The Heath brothers are teachers at heart, and Switch features the same high level of research-driven data brought to life through world-class stories as Made to Stick, while also offering loads of practical, how-to advice on how to start and maintain your next change initiative, whether in your business or in your personal life. The ultimate takeaway is that by recognizing that oftentimes it is the situation that must change, not the person, we are able to take action and not fear the unknown.