Analysis of Chip and Dan Heaths Book

Chip and Dan Heath in their book Switch: How to change things when change is hard discuss the steps of implementing changes in organizations. Although there are many cases when ordinary team members create a change, in most companies, a leader usually implements it as he is considered someone with an ability to articulate the vision to the team (Gupta, 2009). Switch can be used as a practical manual for leaders and ordinary individuals to provide changes in their behavior or to make innovations in their environment with psychological tools. The authors of the book mention that the nature of peoples brains is dual because they have a rational and an emotional mind (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010). The latter can be metaphorically called the Elephant while the former is regarded to as the Rider. The effectiveness of everyones work is lower when one encourages the Elephant without switching on the Rider, and vice versa. To make the change efficient, every company should ensure the interconnection of these two parts, direct the Rider, motivate the Elephant, and shape the Path.

Direct the Rider

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The first concept means that sometimes changes cannot be made because they are dimly formulated. The authors state, What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010). To make ones Rider think productively, a person needs to create a vivid picture of the result in ones mind, namely the point of the destination and the script of the moves. The correct goal setting is a half of success. Chip and Dan Heath (2010) claim that according to the SMART standard, reasonable goals are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely. On the contrary, the worst goals are ambivalent and lack relevance. The Rider does not function if there are uncertainty and no distinct vision of the results. Therefore, one needs to try to set black-and-white goals to squeeze out the ambiguity (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010). The book example of a strict and motivating goal is British Petroleum. Using the black-and-white strategy to maximize expected value and double the strikes, British Petroleum soon tripled its success (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010).

An essential step to direct ones Rider is to understand bright, positive spots of the situation and ways to reach them. The authors of the book give an example of Jerry Sternin, who made a great contribution to solving a malnutrition problem among Vietnamese children. First, he investigated whether there were bright spots healthy, well-nourished children. Then he discovered the secret of mothers who nourished their children differently and promoted the exchange of experience with other families in the community. The program reached 2,2 million Vietnamese people in 265 villages. Sternin did not concentrate on basic problems; on the contrary, he fixed his attention on the bright spots. To apply this principle to the company, the leader should find bright spots among organization members or certain situations and follow them.

In organizational management, it is useful to make a destination postcard. In other words, one should imagine the results to make organization members work willingly and energetically in a chosen way. The accurate view of the destination point strengthens and encourages the Rider to act. The best example from the book is a Donald Berwicks project. He saved lives of thousands of people by launching a campaign to fight defects in medical treatment. Berwick had set a distinct goal to save 100,000 lives by June 2006 and, till the pointed time, 122,300 lives have been saved (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010).

Moreover, to reach a point in ones organization development, the leader should write the steps that have to be done. It would be easier to make the Rider see what to do by dividing a big goal into smaller goals. One may follow the example of Berwick and prepare a signature form or one may demonstrate how to do a good presentation by making master-classes like Sternin. Every demand or recommendation the leader provides should be clear. By using a complex solution to the problem, one would hardly succeed. What is important to remember is that clarity dissolves resistance (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010). Therefore, to make the Rider function without obstacles, it is necessary to distinguish clear steps to reach the aim.

Motivate the Elephant

Appealing to emotions is an essential condition to motivate organization members to cooperate. The Elephant is dependent on the reactions and impressions. According to Kotter and Cohen (2002), successful changes usually happen not as a traditional analyze-feel-change sequence but as a see-feel-change row. Consequently, it is better to demonstrate something to evoke the emotion and motivate people to do something in certain situations (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010). The authors of the book highlight three steps in the process, namely finding the right feeling, shrinking the change, and growing “your people”. Whatever idea or project is going to be launched by the organization, it is important to make people, with whom one is going to cooperate, evaluate the presented idea. The best example from the book is the way Robyn Waters presented colorful clothing to merchants in the target company. She let the merchants experience certain feelings about the color by demonstrating colorful candies to them (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010).

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Chip and Dan Heath (2010) consider that problems which organizations usually face are complex and, therefore, demand some creativity, hope, and open minds. Creativity is the thing which can help to shrink the change. It is easier for the Elephant to gain a small win as an immediate payoff. Therefore, the leader should divide ones goal into tasks. According to the authors, limiting ones goal in time will give a feeling of pride in the accomplishments. Dealing with organizations, this method can be used to cope with routine paperwork. For instance, one can find five minutes a day to clean the office or send invitations to an event for clients. Having started at once and having seen some results, it would be easier to continue and complete the task.

Furthermore, the book illustrated the car wash loyalty cards experiments. In one of them, people had a free wash after having eight stamps on their cards. In another case, they had to have ten stamps, but two of them were given at the beginning. Admittedly, more people were willing to continue filling the cards in the second case (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010). This trick can be successfully used in organizational management. For instance, to encourage more people to visit organizations presentations or other projects, it would be a reasonable idea to use a membership card or ticket. It should enable people to receive some benefits from the organization, hence encouraging them to cooperate with the organization as clients or team members.

To motivate the staff for a more productive work, a principle of finding your people can be applied. Chip and Dan Heath refer to Marchs research on the ways of decision making, namely consequence and identity models (March,1994). Consequence model appeals to analysis while the identity model refers to identities that people acquire throughout life. The authors of Switch claim that the identity is an important part of self-imagination, which influences the decisions of the community (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010). If people in an organization create their identity based on common values, tastes, or aims, it would be possible to attract your people using the identity approach and coordinate the decisions of the group according to it.

Shape the Path

Some changes can be made by every member of an organization. However, the majority of them should be implemented by the leader. Most changes begin from one persons idea. The possibility of an individual change is higher if one has a growth mindset an inclination to learn and improve. Such a mindset helps to provide the next step to change described in Switch to shape the Path. According to the book, it comprises four stages: tweaking the environment, building habits, rallying the herd, and keeping the switch. One persons change can always be interrupted by the environment. The concept of tweaking the environment reveals in taking into account situation forces. To tweak the environment is to make the needed behavior easier to follow. If a certain behavior needs to be set in an organization, the leader should make efforts to make it clear and easy to reproduce. The place of the leader in the process can be illustrated by the IT company administration that provided quiet hours in the office so that its workers successfully completed work before the deadline (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010). In such a way, the administration eliminated bad behavior. This principle is useful in any case. Thus, changing the environment is basically connected with new habits.

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Dealing with organizations, a habit of praising employees or team members for accomplishing goals may bring noticeable results. To fix the changes, the authors of the book recommend using checklists, as they simply make big screw-ups less likely (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010). Furthermore, the leader of an organization may emphasize the right types of behavior and, therefore, make it standard for staff members. In addition, the leader has to improve an intergroup communication by creating a common language (C. Heath & D. Heath, 2010). In this way, rallying the herds takes place. All the steps form a pattern, so the role of the organizational leader and the team is to maintain this pattern.


The book Switch: How to change things when change is hard by Chip and Dan Heath is a manual for individuals and organizations on the way of providing changes in their behavior and influencing the environment. The leader plays a significant role in organization management, although common team members can shrink changes as well. According to the authors, to make change possible, people have to integrate their emotional and rational sides of the mind, and the leaders can be contributors of the process. They have to lead people to the aim, set a clear and reasonable goal, perform a distinct vision of the point destination, and script it in details. The next stage is to motivate peoples Elephants appealing to emotions and impressions and divide the goal into smaller parts. Finally, leaders should shape the path by implementing useful habits and fixing the formed pattern. Hence, to provide the needed changes in ones organization, one should direct the Rider, motivate the Elephant, and shape the Path.

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