Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard

In preparation for an upgrade of our organization’s computer system from McLeod Invision to McLeod Soarian, the leadership team is reading a book entitled: Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath. By March 31, 2012, each leader, director and vice president is required to read and prepare a one-page summary of what they gleaned from this best-selling book.

The entire healthcare system is changing rapidly and we need to find new ways to serve others.

Switch concisely approaches change with a visual model that includes “the Rider,” “the Elephant,” and “the Path.” These elements are well illustrated through numbers of real-life examples in business, education and healthcare settings. Every difficult challenge or problem has an often overlooked or obscure “Bright Spot.” By gleaning and focusing upon small, but successful Bright Spots, larger solutions can be framed for future improvement. In other words, ask, “What is working?” and “How can we do more of it?” Bringing obscure, but successful Bright Spots into the spotlight is key to change. Positive change is possible. Bright Spots not only need to be drawn out of obscurity but also emphasized and rewarded.

It has been said: “If we open an argument with the past … we will neglect the future.” This book brings to light the counter intuitive approach of focusing on Bright Spots within our workplace rather than an unhealthy obsession over what is not working.

Whatever change you were attempting to initiate, I hope that you will join our team in reading this helpful book. If you would like to borrow my copy, please let me know.


Here are a few practical excerpts from page 263:

Problem: I’ll change tomorrow.

1. Shrink the change so you can start today.
2. If you can’t start today, set an action trigger for tomorrow.
3. Make yourself accountable to someone. Let your colleagues or loved one’s know what you’re trying to change, so their peer pressure will help you.

Problem:  People keep saying, “It will never work.”

1. Find a Bright Spot that shows IT can work. There’s no situation that is 100 percent failure. Like a solutions-focused  therapist, look for the flashes of success.
2. Think of Bill Parcells and the way he prods players for small victories in practice. Can you engineer a success that could change your team’s attitude?
3. Some people probably do think it will work. Carve out a free space for them where they can catalyze the change without facing direct opposition.

Problem: I know what I should be doing, but I am not doing it.

1. Knowing isn’t enough. You’ve got an Elephant problem.
2. Think of the five minute room rescue. Starting small can help you overcome dread. What is the most trivial thing that you can do – right at this moment – that would represent a small step toward the goal?
3. Look for path solutions. How can you change your environment so that you’re forced to change?
4. Behavior is contagious. Get someone else involved with you so that you can reinforce each other.

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