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Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  30,194 Ratings  ·  2,072 Reviews
Why is change so difficult and frightening? How do you create change when you have few resources and no title or authority to back you up? Chip and Dan Heath, the best-selling authors of Made to Stick, are back with a ground-breaking book that addresses one of the greatest challenges of our personal and professional lives — how to change things when change is hard.

In their
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Hardcover, 305 pages
Published February 16th 2010 by Crown Business
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Anthony Woodward The book is full of real world examples of how solutions were found to make effective changes. Many changes were lead by people that who did not have…moreThe book is full of real world examples of how solutions were found to make effective changes. Many changes were lead by people that who did not have the higher power or money to lead a carrots and sticks approach, but rather created change by influencing people in a variety of ways, or making the 'path' for change clearer.(less)

Community Reviews

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Kerrilee
Nov 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I'll be interested to see if this book is still relevant in 10 years, as the influence of books like this often come and go. In the meantime, though, my brain just won't stop incorporating elements from it into how I'm thinking about current events in my life.
I was already inclined to believe the validity of the structure that the Heaths outline because I've practiced some of it already without using the same words--most especially Shaping the Path, as I give a lot of thought to the environment
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Trevor
Aug 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really quite enjoyed this book. It was one of those books that had me talking to people about it before I finish reading it. In fact, if any of my M Teach friends are reading this – you probably want to get your hands on a copy of it, as it has some really interesting things to say about how to motivate students.

I’ve read another of their books – Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – which was also particularly good and based on an idea in Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point. I
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Reid
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I understand the perspective of the haters: this book is broad and over-simplifies a really complex topic. I understand, haters, but I don't agree. I love the Heaths' writing precisely because they keep things simple. Their premise that inspiring change requires you to speak to both the brain's logical, rational side as well as its emotional side isn't headline news, but they present it using a simple metaphor (Rider, Elephant, and Path) that makes it easy to grasp and (more important) easy to r ...more
Amir
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Recommended to: Anyone who desires the capability to spark massive, lasting and effective "CHANGE", from individual and family up to organizational and even nation-wide levels
I know, it's cool :D

About the book
It's definitely among the most perfect books I've ever consumed. Author's have structured it in the following format: Three main parts each one being a critical element of change. Each part then is consisted of submodules i.e. different ways of reaching the corresponding element and each s
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7jane
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who have read enough self-help but want a finishing-touch final one
This is a book that's best read after you have read 1-3ish good self-help books (say, Baumeister's "Willpower", Duhigg's "The Power Of Habit" and Keller's "The One Thing" for example), and yet feel you need something like 'cherry on top'.

This book teaches one how make a change through the image of a rider, directing an elephant, on a path from A to B. The rider is the rational (sometimes procrastinating and over-researching) mind, the elephant the emotional (sometimes out-of-control) mind, and t
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Taka
Another must read from the Heath Brothers-

This is another invaluable book packed with extremely useful information. True to the theme of their earlier book, they help make all the concepts stick by hammering them in over and over: Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, and Shape the Path.

For any change to occur, you must have a good reason, a good motivation, and a good environment. The rider is the rational side of you, the elephant, your emotional side, and the path, your environment.

To dire
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Stephen
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book on how to enact change and the mechanics behind that. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to change something in their personal life or within their working environment.

I was able to get a good understanding of the interplay and motivation of the two competing brain types which Chip coined the Rider ( Rational ) and the Elephant ( Emotional ). He then breaks it down to these sections.

Direct the Rider
- Follow the bright spots
- Script the Critical Moves
-
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Kerry
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent (and timely, considering all the New Year resolutions) book! If you want to save time, you can just read the first and last chapters, as those in the middle are just examples (case studies) to illustrate their points. Here is the cliff-note version:

The Three Surprising Truths about Change and What You Can Do about Them:

-- Direct the Rider (our analytical side): What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. Provide crystal-clear direction (instead of telling people t
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Rachael
May 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing

EMOTIONAL SELF=ELEPHANT- It wants things now, easy, It is usually the "emotional self" that usually causes us to fail, because it usually doesn't want to make the short term sacrifices for long term payoffs. It can also have enormous strengths like love compassion and sympathy.

RATIONAL SELF=RIDER It analyzes and decides what to do. The rider is to direct the elephant where to go. If the rider can't get the elephant to go where it wants. (You overeat, or sleep in) the elephant went against the r
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Britany
Nov 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fellow colleague recommended this book to me, and I have to say that it read pretty quick. The chapters are broken down into numbered anecdotes. Examples and stories of these concepts. These stories made the book relatable and easier to digest. The concept is that change is difficult, but using some key theories, you too can change anything. A behavior, a concept, a strategy, or a mindset.
Wanda
I wish that I could give this book 2.5 stars—absolutely average. Because I think that I have seen it all and tried it all before. And I think the book could have been cut by several chapters without being hurt at all.

I like the basic metaphor of this book: the emotions as an elephant, the intellect as mahout. The rider (as the Heaths call the mahout) has limited amounts of strength and will-power to use to direct the elephant; the elephant has to be cooperative, or the rider won’t get where she
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Steve
I read this book for two reasons. First, it was a selection on the 2014 Air Force Chief of Staff Reading List, and second, a coworker recommended it. As a management engineer, change is my job, or I should say, getting people, functions, and businesses to change is my job, and I’m interested in books like this and how I can apply concepts and ideas presented. There were some interesting theories and notions in this book, but it is highly repetitive and somewhat tedious.

“Switch” suffers from thre
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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Let me sum this book up: To change behavior, you must do three things. One, you must change the person’s behavior. Two and three, you must change the person’s hearts and minds.

The authors use the analogy of an Elephant and his Rider. The Rider is your logical brain. The Elephant is your heart. To get the elephant to move, you must engage both the Rider and the Elephant. So, to put it another way, to change behavior, you must Direct the Rider (provide clear direction), Motivate the Elephant (eng
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Mario Tomic
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best and most practical book on behavior change I've read so far. The book was written to address the change at the individual, organizational, and community level and I found it to be extremely useful when helping my clients reach their fitness and health goals. I was initally introduced to the work of brothers Heath through their book "Made to Stick" which is a another great read. So what are you gonna get out of this?
For starters you'll learn the exact framework how to deal
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Mike (the Paladin)
Well, a pretty good book. There's nothing here I haven't read elsewhere. this is a book giving the same steps you will read about in most "beat bad habits" books (change routine etc.).

It's related through the use of examples which makes it accessible. I think this will be more help in a bad habit at work situation than in ones personal life.
Amanda NEVER MANDY
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dull-jane, 2017
This book was boring as shit. I would read a paragraph and then fall asleep. The concepts it discussed were no-brainers and there was really nothing more to pull from this read. It’s not that I went in with a closed mind, it’s just that it didn’t light up any new thought pathways in my overstuffed brain. The writing made me feel like the authors were trying too hard to be my friend having these high five do you know what I mean moments that made me shake my head in disgust. Their tone read as if ...more
Nick
Feb 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Switch is like the Heath brothers earlier book, Made to Stick, in that the ideas in it are not new, just better expressed. Chip and Dan are great storytellers and they have made change (i.e. behavioral change) simple and easy by reducing it to 3 steps: Direct the Rider (provide clear direction for the rational mind), Motivate the Elephant (engage people's emotions) and Shape the Path (make the change easier by changing the situation in key ways). Similarly, their first book took the sophisticate ...more
Jay Connor
May 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: jcrubicon@gmail.com
Finally a book about change that starts with the end in mind. In most of the prior extensive literature of this area from self-help to management categories, authors and gurus extoll the nobility of the effort rather than the achievement of the result. It is also nice to see recommendations based on research rather than the ego-stroking when-I-was-in-charge polemics of many past CEOs of now marginally successful corporations (e.g., "Execution").

The authors pulled from studies conducted over deca
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Mike
May 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all the pop-psychology books I've read recently, this is easily my favorite. Now, when someone says, "This author is so insightful and intelligent," you can be pretty sure what they really mean is, "I agree with everything he says," and I admit there is a certain amount of that in my review. However, I did pick up some ideas, plus it's always nice to reinforce your world view.

Many, many years ago (decades actually) I was visiting a relative. The door to the garage was the main entrance to the
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Cindy Frewen Wuellner
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book last April 2010, skimmed it, set it aside. looked like another management book, not transformative (along the lines of say Good to Great). Yesterday on the twitter chat I host, a couple of people said it changed their lives. I thought that about Howard Gardners books on change. My mental models change. Picking it back up and reading it cover to cover in the last 24 hours, I can see why they related to it. the Heaths find a pattern for changing behavior that is simple, sensible ...more
Caroline
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
My father was a man who was fleet of foot and fleet of mind – with the highest levels of self discipline that I have ever encountered. The one thing he didn’t understand were human beings, and why they did things, or even worse, why they didn’t do things. He was completely flummoxed by mankind’s shortcomings.

I wish he was still alive. I wish I could press this book into his hands and say “Here is your chance to understand.”

As well as writing a primer on human nature, Chip and Dan Heath have con
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Karen Chung
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one gets five stars out of utter usefulness. If you liked Charles Duhigg's Power of Habit, you should love this one - it's certain to add many new life-changing tools to your current collection.
Angie
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 l
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Matt Kelley
Aug 04, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a quick read and one that's sure to be very helpful to just about every reader -- the clear change strategies the Heaths discuss here can apply to both organizations and individuals and there are a few takeaways that I'll remember for a long time. I'm a big fan of 'Made to Stick,' and I look at stickiness as one the Heaths' specialties. They tell stories and give tips that you can remember and act upon. They also summarize piles of social science studies that end up proving great fodder ...more
Manik Sukoco
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Have you ever made a New Year's Resolution to lose weight, exercise more, kick a bad habit, and then the next week slipped back into the same old routine? There is a reason that people, organizations, and societies many times fall into this trap of trying to make a big change; and shortly thereafter fall back into the same old rut. Can't we just change by trying harder? According to the authors, trying harder will never result in lasting change. All that it will do is tire the "Rider."
The author
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David
Mar 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Let me be clear: I HATE most self-helpy/businessy books. They're usually simplistic/obvious, preachy, vague, or "jargony". Switch is none of those things. Sure, you'll be introduced to some jargon, but it's just three terms (Rider, Elephant, and Shaping the Path), you'll learn them within minutes, and they'll be used consistently throughout the rest of the book.
I learned some things about human nature that surprised me. At first, the results of some of the cited studies seemed to run counter to
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Guilherme De Azevedo
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love change, but sometimes no matter how hard I try, I feel that I just can't create the change I want. I bet you have already felt the same.
Switch brings a straight-foward framework that will help you through change.

I made this 4 minute video that will can give you an overview of the book and its main ideas so that you may decide if you want to further explore:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_FytTGH...
David Sasaki
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Chip and Dan Heath's Switch is propaganda manual for the social activist. If your job, like mine, is to present people with information in order to change their behavior, then this is a worthwhile book. It reads quickly, and while most of the advice is obvious in hindsight, it is organized in a way that, in its sum, is enlightening.

Habits are notoriously difficult to change — whether it is what we eat, how we procrastinate, how we speak in public, our how we respond to a particular pet peeve. I
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Loy Machedo
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loy Machedo’s Book Review – Switch by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

How many of you want to change:
Your food habits?
Your lifestyle?
Your destructive behaviors?
An addiction?

Well, if that is the case, then you must read the book Switch.

Chip & Dan (sounds more like the Disney’s characters Chip & Dale – remember?) have brilliantly outlined in a very easy to understand and provocative manner, their theory on what would work, why it would work and also provided compelling examples to show you insta
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Shauna
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eureka-2012
I read this because I had to choose one title from an initially daunting list of "leadership"-related titles in preparation for an institute I attended recently. Otherwise, I never would have picked it up (I never read inspirational/leadership-type nonfiction). From here, I'll just quote verbatim the review I gave of this to the other attendees:
"Switch"...is all about how to make a change. Big, little, personal, institutional, societal…any kind of change in any context can be understood by the o
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FULL Creative Lib...: Switch 1 9 Mar 05, 2014 02:08PM  
Circle of Books: Did you make a switch? 1 10 Jan 02, 2012 01:23PM  
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  • Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning
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  • Getting Naked: A Business Fable about Shedding the Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty
  • Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow
  • The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters
  • Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down
  • Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World
  • Confessions of a Public Speaker
  • Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long
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Chip Heath is the professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.
He received his B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University and his Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford.

He co-wrote a book titled Switch How to Change Things When Change Is Hard with his brother Dan Heath.
More about Chip Heath...

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“Failing is often the best way to learn, and because of that, early failure is a kind of necessary investment.” 10 likes
“A good change leader never thinks, “Why are these people acting so badly? They must be bad people.” A change leader thinks, “How can I set up a situation that brings out the good in these people?” 9 likes
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