Book Notes: Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Why is it is so difficult to change? Whether it is our personal lives, our organizations, or our communities, real and lasting change is difficult. According to Chip and Dan Heath, the primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains. In their new book, Switch, they explain this conflict and, more importantly, how to overcome it to create the outcomes you want.

A 3D Photo of the Book Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

You might remember the Heath brothers from their bestselling book, Made to Stick. I have personally read it through three times. It is must reading for professional communicators and presenters—or anyone who wants their message to be memorable.

In their newest book, the Heaths outline the psychology of change. They begin by explaining that our brain is comprised of two systems: the rationale and the emotional. Building on the work of psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his book, The Happiness Hypothesis, they employ the metaphor of a Rider on an Elephant. The Rider represents the rationale side of our brain; the Elephant represents the emotional side. When these two systems are in alignment, change comes rapidly and easily. When they are not, change is slow and difficult.

After the first chapter which describes the challenges of change, the book is divided into three sections, expressed as three action-steps necessary to effect change:

  1. Direct the Rider
    • Find the Bright Spots
    • Script the Critical Moves
    • Point to the Destination
  2. Motivate the Elephant
    • Find the Feeling
    • Shrink the Change
    • Grow the People
  3. Shape the Path
    • Tweak the Environment
    • Build Habits
    • Rally the Herd
    • Keep the Change Going

The authors use numerous, real-world examples to illustrate their concepts. I found these fascinating—and memorable. I also liked the “Clinics” they sprinkled throughout the book as “sidebars.” These provided hypothetical situations that give me a chance to apply what I had learned.

I have already begun to use many of the Switch principles in my own life and in my company. It is amazing how simple and effective they are. The book was an easy read and one that I will be going back to again and again. I have now added it to my list of top ten business books.

Just to prove how valuable I think this book is, I am recommending it to you despite the fact that it was not published by Thomas Nelson. It was published by Broadway Business, an imprint of Random House. They have graciously made 50 copies of Switch available to my readers.

Note: The give-away is over. I have already given away all the copies of this book. Everything below this note is left here for historical purposes, so that the comments make sense. I have also removed the links.

To get a chance at snagging one, you must take the following three actions:

  1. Leave a comment below. Tell me why you want this book. Be creative. I really do read these comments and base my decisions on them.
  2. Fill out the special form. I have set up a separate contact form to make it convenient for you to provide your mailing address. Please do not put your shipping address in your comment. This will automatically disqualify you.
  3. Twitter a link to this post. You can do so automatically by clicking here. (Feel free to modify the actual text.) If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook.

On Friday, March 19, 2010, I will select 50 people, based solely on my arbitrary and subjective evaluation of their comments. If you are one of those selected, Lindsey Nobles on my team will notify you via email. If you don’t hear from her, you can assume you didn’t make the cut.

Question: Why do you want a copy of this book? If I give you a copy, do you promise to read it?
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