Saturday, March 20, 2010

How to change when change is hard

What do you do when most of us know we have a problem, but are not convinced enough to change anything? Or when the problem is huge and it's too easy to wait for somebody to appear with a huge solution? The answer is not providing more information about the problem to convince you about the need of change. It is to appeal to your emotions and give you examples of small solutions to motivate you to start the change.

Chip and Dan Heath give a good framework for this in their new book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. I have copied their framework below. But first take a look on how Jamie Oliver is motivating you by appealing to your emotions and giving you examples of small solutions to fight the huge obesity problem.

The Switch framework with my comments about Jamie Oliver's project:
Download the framework here.


For things to change, somebody somewhere has to start acting differently. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s your team. Picture that person (or people).

Each has an emotional Elephant side and a rational Rider side. You’ve got to reach both. And you’ve also got to clear the way for them to succeed. In short, you must do three things:

DIRECT the Rider

  • FOLLOW THE BRIGHT SPOTS. Investigate what's working and clone it. (Home made food)
  • SCRIPT THE CRITICAL MOVES. Don't think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviors. (Cooking lessons on main street, small extra budget for schools to use better incredients, weggie class for children to know the difference between potato and tomato!)
  • POINT TO THE DESTINATION. Change is easier when you know where you're going and why it’s worth it. (No need in this case)

MOTIVATE the Elephant
  • FIND THE FEELING. Knowing something isn't enough to cause change. Make people feel something. (Notice how Jamie is not talking about you, but your children!)
  • SHRINK THE CHANGE. Break down the change until it no longer spooks the Elephant. (Milk)
  • GROW YOUR PEOPLE. Cultivate a sense of identity and instill the growth mindset. (Our parents ate real home food, our grandparents ate real home food, but our generation is no longer giving that example to our children. Cooking lessons on homestreet together with your neighbors.)

SHAPE the Path
  • TWEAK THE ENVIRONMENT. When the situation changes, the behavior changes. So change the situation. (Start with the school lunch. Moving to the same direction Pepsi announced this week they will cut sugary drinks from schools globally. See also how NYC Health authorities appeal to your emotions on their three month old ad about fat and soda drinks.)
  • BUILD HABITS. When behavior is habitual, it's “free”—it doesn't tax the Rider. Look for ways to encourage habits. (Jamie Oliver calls for supermarkets to give more info about healthy food, the habit needs to start on what kind of food you buy.)
  • RALLY THE HERD. Behavior is contagious. Help it spread. (The main street cooking class, and school lunch again. My peers are changing, I'd better follow their example.)

The book. uses tens of examples like this and is a nice read. One of the examples is the opposite problem of obesity - malnutrition in Vietnam -but the solution is exactly the same: cooking lessons in villages for how to make healthier food from simple incredients, and how to have healthier eating habbits.

What made the book even more interesting was that I had just finished reading two books about motivation and the emotional right brain side of us by Dan Pink - his new book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and the classic A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.

Dan and Chip Heath's earier book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die was one of the books that made me look at communication from a different point of view two years ago.

Earlier I always tried to convince the Rider with more facts (because the facts convinced me), but I had trouble motivating the Elephant - now I try to do both.


shasha said...

thanks for sharing this. even though obesity is not really my problem, the suggestions given here can apply to any situation where change is the only solution.

audreygeddes said...

Excellent article - Chip's ideas are brilliant and I will be passing this info. on to my boss. I especially like his point on someone choosing to act differently in order for real change to happen. As a company my boss is that agent of change, which motivated her to engage us in success coaching with expert Kathleen Ranahan. We have been able to begin the process of effecting some change per her coaching in our procedures and processes that have enhanced our efficiency and bottom line performance. Change is good!