Sunday, January 16, 2011

Switch by Chip Heath

Need to change something or someone - including yourself? Some very good advice and approaches to make those changes easier to swallow and more likely to stick.

Too much of a bad thing

Moviegoers were given an inexhaustible supply of stale popcorn in either a large or medium bucket. People with the large buckets ate 53% more popcorn than people with the medium size. That was 173 more calories or 21 extra hand dips... These people weren't eating for pleasure, the popcorn was so stale it squeaked! It didn't matter whether they were hungry or full. The equation was unyielding: bigger container=more eating. Best of all, people refused to believe the results. The majority scoffed at the idea of their eating more because of the larger container size, saying “things like that don't trick me” or “I'm pretty good at knowing when I'm full.” p3

Cookie powered will power

Half the participants were asked to eat 2 or 3 cookies and some chocolate candies, but no radishes. The other half were asked to eat at least 2 or 3 radishes, but no cookies. While they ate, the researchers left the room, wanting the subjects to sit there alone glancing enviously at the fresh baked cookies. Despite the temptation all participants ate what they were asked to eat, and none of the radish eaters snuck a cookie. At that point, the 'taste study' was over, and a supposedly unrelated study on problem solving was conducted... The untempted students who were allowed to eat the treats spent 19 minutes on the task, making 34 well intentioned attempts to solve the problem. The radish eaters were less persistent. They gave up after only 8 minutes and the managed only 19 solution attempts. Why did they quit so easily? The answer may surprise you: they ran out of self control. Psychologists have discovered that self control is an exhaustible resource... The radish eaters had drained their self control by resisting the cookies. So when their elephants, inevitably, started complaining about the puzzle task – its too hard, it's no fun, we're no good at this – their riders didn't have enough strength to yank on the reins for more than 8 minutes. Meanwhile the cookie eaters had a fresh, untaxed rider, who fought off the elephant for 19 minutes. P10

Bigger change is harder to sustain. No duh.

Research shows that we burn up self control in a wide variety of situations: managing the impression we're making on others, coping with fears, controlling our spending, trying to focus on simple instructions. Here's why this matters for change: when people try to change things, they're usually tinkering with behaviors that have become automatic, and changing those behaviors requires careful supervision. The bigger the change, the more it will sap people's self-control. P11

When you hear people say that change is hard because people are lazy or resistant, that's just flat wrong. Change is hard because people wear themselves out. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. P12

Find and leverage bright spots

In tough times, the rider sees problems everywhere, and analysis paralysis often kicks in. The rider will spin his wheels indefinitely unless he's given clear direction. That's why to make progress on a change, you need ways to direct the rider. Show him where to go, how to act, what destination to pursue. And that's why bright spots are so essential. [Brights spots are examples of what is working already that can be leveraged for a greater solution.] p33

Follow the bright spots... As you analyze your situation, you're sure to find some things that are working better than others. Don't obsess about the failures. Instead, investigate and clone the successes. Next give direction to the rider – both a start and a finish. Send him a destination postcard and script his critical moves. P98

None of us are objective - about ourselves

We're all lousy self-evaluators... Savor for a moment, the preposterousness of these findings... Only 2% of high school seniors believe their leadership skills are below average. A full 25% of people believe they're in the top 1% in their ability to get along with others. 94% of college professors report doing above average work. People think they're at lower risk for cancer, heart disease, and food related illness than their peers. Most deliciously self deceptive of all, people say they're more likely than their peers to provide accurate self assessments! P114

One small step for change

People find it more motivating to be partly finished with a longer journey than to be at the starting gate of a shorter one. That's why the conventional wisdom in development circles is that you don't publicly announce a fund raising campaign until you've already got 50% in the bag. After all who wants to give the first $100 to a $1M campaign? P127

Keeping up appearances

We essentially ask ourselves 3 things when we have decision to make: Who am I, What kind situation is this? What would someone like me do in this situation? Notice what's missing: any calculation of costs and benefits. The identify model explains the way most people vote, which contradicts our notion of the 'self-interested voter'. It helps shed light on the Silicon Valley millionaire who votes democratic and the Oklahoma mechanic who votes republican. P153

Read the 4 following sentences:

  1. You are a certain kind of person, and there's not much that can be done to really change that

  2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially

  3. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can't really be changed

  4. You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are.

If you agreed with items 1 & 3, you have a fixed mindset. And if you agreed with 2 & 4, you have a growth mindset. [See Carol Dweck's Mindset] p163

Direct the Rider

  1. Follow the bright spots

  2. Script the critical moves

  3. Point to the destination

Motivate the Elephant

  1. Find the feeling

  2. Shrink the change

  3. Grow your people

Shape the Path

  1. Tweak the environment

  2. Build Habits

  3. Rally the herd