Roadpost #12: Booktime

Here is an excellent book for anyone interested in change, whether it is social change, organizational change, or even change at the individual level. The book is:

SWITCH: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

By Chip and Dan Heath

This book is a good summation of recent findings in behavioral psychology about how to be effective when trying to make change happen. Written in a story-driven style, it is an easy read. It takes the research and creates practical guidelines for applying what you read to real-life situations. I have read several of these books and this is the most useful one I have come across.

Throughout the book, a simple but powerful metaphor for our dualistic minds, comprised of the rational and the emotional parts of the brain, guides the narrative. The rational brain is the rider on the back of a very large elephant, our emotional mind, and the trick is understanding how to work with both these sides of people to make sure change happens. According to the Heath brothers, you must direct the rider with clear instructions, motivate the elephant to gain its cooperation, and shape the path the two are traveling on. The book gives lots of examples of how to accomplish this feat.

It is a fascinating book and when you are through you can go to the website,, to find podcasts, a workbook, and a sample chapter to download. There is even a reader’s guide for book clubs.

I recommend this book to everyone working or volunteering in the social sector to make something good happen. You might even gain some insight into yourself and how to make your waistline trimmer or how to get your clothes closet tidy.

It’s a crazy world of elephants and riders out there, heading down a maze of paths that may not always lead to the most positive place. SWITCH helps make some sense of it.

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