Book Review: Switch by Chip & Dan Heath

Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, writers of Made To Stick, deal with “how to change things when change is hard.” The book shares encouraging stories and a helpful process for change.

Humanity not process
Switch develops a process around the most obvious fact: we’re human! Many change books view change from the perspective of process vs the perspective of people. Reality is, people make or break change more than a process. The greatest benefit of Switch is its process places our humanity into the equation.

Think holistically
The book takes a holistic view to the change process. Too often people like to segment things, avoiding how things connect. Left brain types (stereotypically men) fall into this category. If you’re an left brain type this book will greatly benefit how you enact change.

Elephant riding
Having a change process is more important than no process at all. The book has an interesting intersection of modern psychology and philosophy in is use of the Rider & Elephant metaphor. The metaphor is the foundation for the book and very helpful. Each section has helpful exercises to develop your elephant riding skills.

While the content is solid and helpful, the style of the book is frustrating at best. There are no topic heading in each chapter, just numbers. If you want to use the book as a reference, mark it well. The stories read like a stream of conscious. It is good training and helpful to left brain bullet pointed types, but you will find it frustrating. Being a right brain stream of conscious type, it slightly annoyed me as well. For a book focused on a process of change, the layout and style is not helpful, almost to the extent of being a hindrance.

The stories are inspirational. They are worth reading through and will help you process how change. One thing I struggle with is whether or not the process is really a change process vs the book being about people who were creative in making change happen. This is a broader philosophical discussion but worth noting.

The Bottom line:
If you are left brained analytical type, Switch is a must read. If you are a right-brained creative type, a more analytical book would benefit you more. The book is solid and a change process is better than no process. The greatest strength Switch; it’s holistic. Too often humanity is left out of the equation. Change is as much art as it is science. In fact, I’d say its more art. We are human.

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