After sharing how to revolutionize meetings, I should have prefaced with this book review for Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. My area is undergoing an organizational change to blend three areas into a unified team. Coupled with a new Senior Director in place, change is certainly afoot. This book provided insight on successes and challenges we had experienced, while also giving direction and strategy to consider moving forward. First, let me back up and explain the basis of the Switch.
In their book, Chip and Dan break down how to change behavior with these three concepts:
1. Direct the Rider (a person’s rational side).
What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity; to achieve success, give clear direction to alter behavior.
2. Motivate the Elephant (a person’s emotional side).
What looks like laziness is often exhaustion; it’s critical to engage the emotional side to achieve change since self-control can only go so far.
3. Shape the Path (the situation or environment).
What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem; shape and clear the path as much as possible to ease the change process.
Each of these sections have three chapters each to illustrate these points through stories, case studies, research, and entertaining anecdotes. There were so many great quotes and quips throughout to reinforce light-bulb moments.
With just about every example in the book, our team was able to identify a related process or situation. For elements already past, we made note of considerations and alternative approaches should similar situations arise in the future. Existing situations gave us pause to brainstorm better paths forward or how to retrace our approach to be more effective. With future planned changes, we were excited to have time to shape an informed and all-around engaging approach.
In education, it is important for us to consider the human and individualistic element in our approach to change.
We should consider multiple personality types, learning styles, or needs in serving our students. As Chip and Dan differentiated the rational and emotional sides of people – each with strength, motivations, and weaknesses – my brain was bursting with ideas for various functional areas. I also couldn’t help but think of equity implications regarding change. The people in charge of change should consider how their position may impact approach, as well as whose voices and needs lack representation in the process.
To learn more, check out this video of Dan Heath exemplifying Direct the Rider or this illustrative book overview. Following either of those links, you’ll see several other related video clips associated with Chip and Dan. Because change seems to be a constant at just about every institution, I recommend this book or these associated resources. And well-wishing to all of you leading or navigating anything new or different!