Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To Make a Switch, Part 1

Chip and Dan Heath have a new book being released February 15. Authors of the best-selling "Made to Stick", their new work focuses on the two independent systems in our minds: the rational mind and the emotional mind. They compete for control in our heads all the time, and the paradox is that only by harnessing each of their strengths can lasting change take place.

Whether the switch you seek is in your family, in your organization, or in society at large, you'll get there by making three things happen. Here is the first.

Direct the Rider

The Heath's call the rational side of our brains The Rider - always seeking to be in control. In order to harness the power of your rational side, you need to:

  • Find the bright spots
  • Script the critical moves
  • Point to the destination

You may have heard the phrase "paralysis by analysis" or "decision paralysis" It's where more options, even good ones, can freeze us and make us retreat to the default plan. The default plan is often status quo (that's Latin for "dead and don't know it").

In this case, choice no longer liberates; it debilitates. In times of change, autopilot doesn’t work anymore. Ambiguity is exhausting to the rational brain. Any successful change requires a translation of ambiguous goals into concrete behaviors.

To spark movement in a new direction, you need to provide crystal-clear guidance. If you are leading a change effort, you need to remove the ambiguity from your vision of change.

Even the brief words above can tend toward confusion. So how about repackaging it with a phrase that speaks volumes:

Clarity dissolves resistance

When you’re at the beginning of change, don’t obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different once you get there. Just look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.

The book is "Switch", by Dan and Chip Heath. If change is a regular part of your life, you need to get a copy and dive in.

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