Book Rec: “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” – Chip Heath & Dan Heath

switchIt’s no secret that higher education is undergoing an incredible amount of change at the current moment. Technological innovations (some would say disruption), decreasing federal & state support, rising tuition, demographic shifts, and a philanthropically funded national completion agenda are all converging upon academe.

I work at a state level coordinating board and therefore know all to well these forces and their current effects upon postsecondary education. Considering all of this and the simple fact that, well, change is hard, our office built an entire professional development series around the subject of…you got it, CHANGE. I was lucky enough to be a part of the professional development leadership team and worked many long hours with my colleagues to plan, put together and put on a 6-week summer professional development series for our office.

Guiding us was Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.” We ordered a copy of the book for all staff members and each session of our professional development series focused on a specific aspect of the book.

The book presents a three-part change framework:

1. Direct the Rider (the analytical, logical part of our brains) by providing a vision of the ultimate goal and giving clear direction on how to get there.

2. Motivate the Elephant (the emotionally driven part of our brains) by cultivating an emotional connection to the change.

3.  Shape the Path by making the change process easier for people through the outlining of easy, clear and manageable steps.

Switch Framework

The tenants of the framework can be applied at the individual or organizational level, which gave our professional development series broad appeal. The book is also jam-packed with real world and extremely interesting examples of the tenants put in to action.

It’s a great read for managers and would be applicable to any type of organization.

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