Book Review: Switch

July 13, 2010

Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is HardSwitch

Chip and Dan Heath provide an easily readable text on change. and in this case, the definition of change being both organizational change and self actualization.

Written in made to stick allegorical format, (the elephant and the rider) the text explains much of the psychology of change in an easy to read, easy to understand format. And let me clarify – they are not attempting to demonstrate some pop-science idea, they use current learning in psychology and behavioral theory  and package in a way that makes it intuitive for those of us who did not major in psychology or the behavioral sciences.

One interesting concept they explore is what behavioral theory calls self fulfilling prophecy. Simply put; if you think of yourself, (or more importantly, about others) in either a positive or a negative fashion, the more likely that we (or they) begin to act or to behave in a fashion that matches those positive or negative perceptions.

And a statistic that the authors identify?

..in an analysis of 558 emotion words – 62 % were negative

So at least in the English language – we humans seem to come pre-wired to think negatively about ourselves or others rather than positively. We demonstrate this by relentless focus on problems, or what was wrong, we don’t look at solutions or what went right.

To paraphrase the authors, four A’s on a child’s report card always seem to be eclipsed by the one F grade don’t they?

The SMB Takeaway

Problems are easy to spot, progress and success is  much harder. So make an effort to celebrate the successes. Celebrate the positives.

You may find that they become more visible, and more frequent.

PS: the italicized made to stick is a reference to the authors first book of that title!

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