Saturday, 7 November 2015

Switch - How to change things when change is hard

“Switch - How to change things when change is hard” by Chip and Dan Heath

I had really enjoyed Chip and Dan Heath’s book “Made to Stick - Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck” so I was keen to download their second book, “Switch - How to change things when change is hard”, which is about influencing change. Although aimed at business readers and a general audience, it also has a lot of relevance for schools. 

Think about someone who has to make a  change. Maybe it’s you, your school or a pupil. Picture this person (or people) as a small rider (this represents their rational side) riding an elephant (their emotional side) along a path. To help anyone make a change we have to communicate to their emotional side and their rational side and we have to clear the way for them to have success. The Heaths, with many interesting examples, talk about how we can:

Direct the rider
Look for the bright spots - Where is it working well? Why is that?
Scripting the critical moves - What simple specific behaviours would make a difference?
Point to the destination - Where are you going? Why will it be worthwhile? How could you clearly and succinctly communicate this?

Motivate the elephant 
Find the feeling - Knowing something isn’t enough - how can you make them feel something?
Shrink the change - Break down the change into something so small you cannot fail to succeed.
Grow your people - Cultivate a growth mindset.

Shape the path
Tweak the environment - Can you change the situation to help behaviours to change?
Build habits - routines help to make things easy for us to do
Rally the herd - We are influenced by the people around us so is there a way you can use this to help?

Teacher Takeaways:

For teachers lots of these ideas are familiar: in my school we have been talking about how we can share the big picture of where we are trying to take the pupils with their learning, which was like the authors’ idea of a “destination postcard”, and with pupils with challenging behaviour one technique is to use TATT (Tiny Achievable Tickable Targets), which is similar to their ideas on shrinking the change into small steps that you can’t fail to succeed in. 

For myself I think the most useful thing about this book is that it provides you with a clear overview of the areas you can consider making a change in and I think I am going to try using the “Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant and Shape the Path” idea as a checklist when planning how to support learners to make positive changes.