Marco Visscher | April/May 2010 issue
If you are an executive looking to modify a process at work, you can turn to change management literature. If you need to transform your life, there are plenty of self-help books. If you want to change the world, there is advice for activists, too. With their new book, Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the bestselling Made to Stick, show that these divisions are a shame; any change starts with someone acting differently. So, in Switch, the question is, How can we manipulate behavior to achieve change? To provide the answer, the Heath brothers look at successful changes on all levels—individual, organizational and societal—and present clear recommendations.
A fundamental psychological principle that changemakers should never forget, they claim, is that the brain has two independent systems at work—one is rational and reflective, the other emotional and instinctive. We should address both systems to get people inspired. To direct the rationalist, they suggest prescribing specific behavioral changes instead of big picture goals, and cloning what works instead of fixing what’s wrong. But emotionalists are motivated when you speak to their feelings as well as their intelligence, and break changes down so the tasks become less daunting. The good news, according to the authors: For things to change, we need only small steps, and behavioral science can help us take them.
Switch is engaging and insightful, whether you want to motivate your sales team to sell more, get your teenaged kid on the right path or lose weight. If anything, it will change the way you think about change.