Read in 15 min.
Listen in 19 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Dan Heath , Chip Heath


Understanding the mental mechanisms of change

For many of us, managing change is one of life’s greatest challenges, regardless of whether it affects us directly or concerns other people. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard not only provides examples and easy-to-follow tips, but also explains the mental mechanisms that can either help us to successfully bring about change, or hinder the entire process.

Read in 15 min.
Listen in 19 min.

Behaviour, actions, and reactions: human nature is the result of two often conflicting factors, the instinctual mind and the reflexive system

While we only have one brain, we actually have two minds: the human brain has two independent systems, one for our emotional and instinctive side, which feels pain and pleasure, and the other for our rational side, the reflective or conscious system, which represents the part of us that analyses situations, makes decisions, and plans for the future.

In The Happiness Hypothesis, University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt says that our emotional side is an Elephant, and our rational side is its Rider. The Rider holds the reins and seems to be in control, but it is precarious, because the Rider is so small compared to the Elephant. Whenever the Elephant and the Rider disagree on which direction to take, the Rider has to bow to the Elephant’s will.

When it comes to incentivising change, we must therefore work to support the Rider, who has the power to think and plan, and is able to chart a course towards a better future, as long as he can control the Elephant. The Rider has one significant weakness: the tendency to overthink and over analyse. What’s more, the Rider’s thoughts are almost always focussed on the problems rather than on the positive.


The key ideas of "Switch"

Behaviour, actions, and reactions: human nature is the result of two often conflicting factors, the instinctual mind and the reflexive system
Focussing on the negative holds us back: we have to pay attention to what works, in order to achieve success, but we often focus on the problem instead of the solution
There is a clear asymmetry between the size of a problem and the size of its solution: on closer inspection, big problems can often be solved by focussing on the smaller details
Decision-making paralysis: when we have too many options, even good ones, it can stop us from making a decision, and keeps us on the starting block, because we prefer the status quo to change
In order to stimulate change, we have to draw a clear map that will allow us to reach our path and objective, in other words, we need simple actions and a precise picture of the expected outcome
Change management experts, John Kotter and Dan Cohen, have observed that, in almost all successful business transformations, change does not follow an analyse-think-change sequence, but a see-feel-change pattern
The cliché that suggests ‘raising the bar’ is completely misleading if we need to motivate a reluctant person, who when faced with change, needs to feel confident that they will be able to cope
When people make choices, they tend to rely on one of two basic models of decision-making: the consequence model or the identity model
The most effective way to keep motivation high when tackling a change project is to create the expectation of failure (not of the final result, but of a few steps along the way)
Take-home message
4books preview

Try 4books Premium for free!