Monday, November 1, 2010
Book Review: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
I found this book to be a revelation. It’s smart and delivers on its promise. By the end of the book, I had a much clearer perspective on to make change. One of the reasons that I like this book so much is that it focuses on the systems in place – not the people. Too many books focuses on the people and start from the assumption that there is something wrong with them: they are lazy or they are dumb. These assumptions lead only to two solutions: inspiring pep talks or more training.
Switch focuses on the environment and the systems that are in place that lead to a given result. The Heath brothers argue that to be successful you have to change the systems, the environment or the person’s mindset. They go through all the emotional pieces that make people resistant to change.
A great example of the book’s ideology takes place at a factory. This factory has struggled with safety. Workers are getting their hands caught in one particular rate at an unacceptable rate. Now, some ways to deal with this could have been to “educate” the workers on the dangers of getting their hands caught in the machine, or to create a punishment/incentive scheme. The managers look at the problem and realized that no one wants to get their hand stuck so they devised a safety mechanism where in order to operate the machine, two buttons a arms length apart had to be pressed. If both buttons were not pressed, the machine would turn off. Now it was impossible to both run the machine and get your hand caught. Genius.
I highly recommend this book. It is one of the few management books I plan to purchase and go back to over and over.