Monday, October 11, 2010

Book Recommendation - The Switch

Cover of "Switch: How to Change Things Wh...Cover via AmazonI completed reading a book called 'The Switch' written by Dan Heath and Chip Heath. It is a very well written book. It is a book about making change when it is difficult. If you want to quit smoking, but aren't unable to do it or if you are in a legacy industry whose competitiveness is threatened by internet and want to make difficult changes, this book lays out a very clear way for making the change.

When we know that we have to change, then we feel that we have enough reason to change and we can easily navigate the change. But if you have tried to change anytime, you would have observed that it is not that easier. To understand it, the authors have used  a model. Assume a rider riding on top of an elephant. Your analytical mind is the rider. You know all the facts about why to change, what to change. The emotional or feelings part of mind is the elephant. So for your analytical mind to make the change, you have to ride the inertia and emotions. But imagine if you can have strong emotions for change, then riding the elephant would become a breeze in the right environment. Right environment is the third factor. Suppose you have to make an elephant go uphill. It is a difficult task but if you make a clear road in the way, it would be easier for the elephant to go.
 Lets take an example here. Consider some person is trying to quit smoking. He knows why it is important to quit smoking but he doesn't have sufficient motivation to quit. Now assume, he imagines how happy his wife would be and how much good it is for his kids, then he gets motivated. He then decides he will quit smoking. He goes the whole morning without smoking but after lunch he couldn't control his feelings to smoke. Then he can make it easier for him to quit it by scheduling meetings right after lunch so that he needn't have any time to go and smoke.
So change consists of three parts, they are

1. Shape the path: They have to clear the path or environment for change - For eg, if you want to eat healthy food, other junk food should first be thrown off your shelves. You should fill it with fresh fruits and vegetables. etc.

2. Direct the rider: There are two parts in our brain. One that is emotional and doesn't do what it has to even though it knows. It is swayed by emotion. They call it the elephant. Other part is rational brain which analyses and comes at the right decision. This is called the rider.  They say that due to many alternatives, the rider comes into analysis-paralysis mode and is confused. To overcome this problem, the rider should be directed correctly.

3. Motivate the elephant: As told above, even though when we rationally know what the right decision is, most of the time we fail to see through it if the emotional part of brain, the elephant is not motivated enough. So the elephant should be motivated.

Head over to my book reviews blog here to read a summary of various ways in which you can make harder change easily.
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