As early as last August I heard Dan and Chip Heath, authors of the excellent Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck , speak at a leadership conference in Chicago about their forthcoming book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard . Their first book was about effective communication, and this next work would be about influencing people, organisations and societies to make a switch in their behaviours. I was eagerly looking forward to this book.
I was not disappointed. As a leader of an organisation and also as someone who leads change management courses and workshops, I greatly appreciated the insights and stories. There are a range of established change management models out there, but what the Heath brothers present us with is a simple, accessible model, a model leaders and change agents can get to grips with quickly, not matter what their level or experience.
I particularly enjoyed the story of the aid worker from Save the Children challenged with making a national change in post-war Vietnam with virtually no budget and pulling it off, of how abusive parents were coached to a different pattern with their children, of the Brazilian rail company ALL that was able to achieve a dramatic turnaround with a simple operational script, of the woman physician who achieved the realisation of a breast care centre with a shift from weeks of waiting for results to results being given before the patient leaves the building on her first visit. All these vivid stories are interleaved with helpful 'clinics' where the reader is invited to work through a real change challenge using the model.
Most helpfully the authors make the case that apparent resistance to a change is often not out of stakeholders' negative attitudes, but rather because the means to effect the change are often unclear or badly shaped by the leaders themselves.
We have already begun to use this model in our consulting assignments with our clients and within our own company, and we will include it on some of our courses.
Switch is certainly the best business book I have read so far this year and a valuable addition to the canon of change management books.