“When you are through changing, you are through.” – Bruce Barton (American author, advertising executive and politician)
If you are involved in an organization that requires change (and in this time of seismic social, economic, political and environmental shifts that would be any organization that seeks to endure), Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard offers a combination of big ideas and practical principles that can guide clear thinking and effective action.The premise of Switch is simple: For things to change, somebody somewhere has to start acting differently. The execution, on the other hand, is not easy.
Borrowing from University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis, the Heaths frame how people experience change in this way:
“Haidt says that our emotional side is an Elephant and our rational side is its Rider. Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched. . . .Changes often fail because the Rider simply can’t keep the Elephant on the road long enough to reach the destination” (p.7)
Change occurs for individuals. Change occurs for teams. Change occurs for organizations. In figuring out how to effect change, the Heaths ask leaders to picture the person or people involved in the change and remember:
“Each has an emotional Elephant side and a rational Rider side. You’ve got to reach both. And you’ve also got to clear the way for them to succeed.”
How to do this? Switch offers a 3-step road map:
I. Direct the Rider
• Follow the bright spots (find what’s working—and clone it)
• Script critical moves (not big picture but specific behaviors)
• Point to the destination (where you’re going and why)
II. Motivate the Elephant
• Find the feeling (inspire people emotionally)
• Shrink the change (break it down so it doesn’t spook the elephant)
• Grow your people (instill growth mindset)
III. Shape the Path
• Tweak the environment (changes in situation inspire changes in behavior)
• Build habits (habits are mostly energy-free and don’t contribute to exhaustion)
• Rally the herd (behavior is contagious—model it and, so, help spread it)
In directing the rider, motivating the elephant and shaping the path, those who seek to lead change in schools can benefit from author Rob Evans' insights in "The Human Side of School Change" (a compelling chapter in Why Change? What Works? The NAIS Guide to Change Management). Evans' approach, in the Heaths' terms, argues for an "artful balance" of attention to the rider, the elephant and the shaping of the path. Evans offers 3 keen insights and 2 key messages for a balanced approach in change:
 "Innovators tend to concentrate on the potential benefits of their recommendations--and to overlook the effort and pain of adapting."
 Leaders of change "too often. . .don't acknowledge the loss provoked by innovation or attend to the grief of those it affects."
 A primary pitfall for leaders of change is impatience: seeing "implementation as a matter of persuasion and power." And overfocus on "explain[ing] the rational necessity for the change and then us[ing] appropriate combinations of carrot and stick to maneuver. . .overestimate[s] the influence of the leader and underestimate[s] the the realities of adaptation."
 "This is very serious, the risks of inaction are very real, and we must change."
 "I value you as people, and I will help you get where we need to go."
Finally, Evans quotes author Michael Fullan on achieving balance in change: "Pressure without support leads to resistance and alientation; support without pressure leads to drift or waste of resources."