One of the books that has been on my reading list for two years is Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. I read it over the Christmas break, and wish I hadn’t waited so long. It’s one of the best books on change that I have ever read.
The Heath brothers draw from an extensive set of research studies, mostly in the field of psychology, to explain why people act in certain ways when confronted with the need to change. This sounds very dry, but the genius of Switch is that the Heaths have created a simple and memorable framework that is easy to read and captivating. They deal with both the emotional and logical issues that can cripple change efforts both at the personal or organizational levels.
One thing that makes Switch so captivating is the stories of change. As I’m writing this review, I’m remembering that the size of the bucket doesn’t affect the amount of popcorn eaten by a movie-goer and the implications this has for change efforts. I’m thinking about a community revitalization effort in rural North Dakota that was started by teens, a government reform effort led by a mid-level manager, and the dramatic improvement by a group of first-grade students in an impoverished school. All of these happened against seemingly impossible odds. My only complaint about Switch is that it seems like everyone can be a change hero. But of course, the Heaths believe that they can.
The need for significant change is one of the common denominators in virtually all of the churches, ministries, and organizations that I encounter. Dealing with the barriers to change is one of the common cries of leaders. Switch doesn’t promise a magical 4-step process to transform your organization and it doesn’t claim that change is easy. But it does give leaders a much better understanding and some practical tools for managing change. If your new year is going to involve climbing a mountain of change, you’ll be glad to have the Heath brothers at your side.
It’s easy to receive my blogs by email. Just sign-up on Feedburner by clicking here.