I finally read Switch: How To Change Things When Change is Hard last week. Although I’ve been meaning to read it since its release in February 2010, I was finally cajoled into doing by my summer class—it was assigned reading. Nothing in the book is groundbreaking. In fact, there are a few pieces I feel deserve a bit more research and research. However, I fully recommend this book for anybody who is involved in the practice of influencing others or thinks they may need to create change in themselves. Why do I recommend this book even with it’s flaws? Firstly, I recognize that no one piece of literature will ever be perfect on all accounts for all people. Secondly, and most importantly in my opinion, is that the Chip brothers do an excellent job of making clear the importance of leading with both the mind and the heart. Whereas most literature focus on one or the other, Switch uses facts and figures as well as story to make their appeals extremely comprehensible and accessible. The authors describe both effective and ineffective ways to create change through case studies, psychology, philosophy, and anecdotal evidence. I think this varied approach keeps the read interesting and allows issues to be analyzed from different perspectives.
The reason I say this book doesn’t break new ground is because I feel I’ve read everything presented here before. I constantly found myself thinking things like, “Oh yeah, this is just like what Gladwell says in Blink.” Granted, I understand I may be an anomaly. Not everybody keeps Harvard Business Review case studies, and marketing and psychology books on their night stands. For those of you who don’t find reading endless amounts of business books riveting Switch does a good job of combining the research and findings provided by such works as Influencer (Patterson, et.al, 2007), Blink (Gladwell, 2007), Emotional Intelligence (Bradberry, et.al, 2009), The Brand Gap (Neumeier, 2005) and others. I recommend each of those books, but you can save some time by reading just this one if you wish. I also appreciate Heath and Heath for touching on moral issues when persuasion techniques are used. Although this area could have been more completely explored, that’s not the purpose of this book.
Dan and Chip talk about the Rider (analytical, conscious part of our brain) and the Elephant (impulsive part of our brain), very similar to what Freud would refer to as the ego and id respectively. They also explicitly discuss what they refer to as the Path (situation) and how that plays a major role in behavior, even going so far as to say that when analyzing and judging problems, “The error lies in our inclination to attribute people’s behavior to the way they are rather than to the situation they are in.” I agree with that and think that turning our attention to the situation in many cases will help us look past our various differences and allow us to see others as the generally good people they are.