Book review – Switch: How to change things when change is hard

14 Sep

I’m going to cut to the chase here, I really loved this book and have been wildly recommending it to everyone I meet. It has a clear message and engaging supporting examples throughout – definitely lives up to the hype. So what is it and what does it have to do with Careers 2.0?

Switch really emphasises the importance of engaging your changees with your mission in an emotional way – Find the Feeling. People respond better to individual human examples and demonstrations, than generalisations and studies. Another key step is to Shape the Path – make sure the desired action is available, reasonable and clearly specified. There are in fact 12 key points like these that can all contribute to successful culture change, but I won’t summarise them here – you can actually download for free a summary page and related materials from the Heath Brothers website – nice.

So how does it apply? Let’s say you want to bring non-users into the careers service, this example struck me right away: the canned food drive experiment. Students identified each other as people likely to give (Saints) and those unlikely (Jerks). Half the students received a general flyer about the food drive with a request for canned goods, and a location on campus to leave donations. The alternative version included a map, specified “bring a can of beans” and suggested the reader think of when they might be passing that location anyway. The general instructions got an 8% response rate from Saints, and a zero response from Jerks. However the concrete, specific flyer got a 42% response from Saints and 25% from Jerks – both groups showed increased response. So how would you write your career service marketing materials now? Would it be better to market one service at a time, like a CV check, rather than a general leaflet full of options? Too much choice can lead to analysis paralysis“where do I even start with all these services?”.

On finishing I immediately ordered the Heath Brothers other book Made to Stick, so I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of that. You might be hearing about it soon…

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4 Responses to “Book review – Switch: How to change things when change is hard”

  1. Elizabeth (Careers Service) September 15, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    Thanks for the recommendation – I promised myself in Jnauary that this year I wasn’t going to buy any new books until I’d read all the unread books in the house (we’ve all got them …).

    I’ve only weakened a few times so far, but I can feel my finger twitching over the Amazon basket already for this one, just in time for the start of term.

    • helencurry September 17, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

      All the unread books in the house?? Eep. That is very disciplined. I think mine are hidden away in a box somewhere back up North – if I can’t see them they don’t count. I think.

      If you do weaken, I’d be interested to hear what think about Switch.

      • Elizabeth (Careers Service) September 23, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

        Hi Helen

        I weakened – and I’m so glad. I’ve only read the first couple of sections but I have to keep stopping as the glare from all those light bulbs flashing on is getting distracting.

        For example, such a simple concept – stop focusing on your problems and focus on your bright spots, then do more of that.

        This week we re-opened the perpetual debate on what to do with non-attenders (who’ve booked appointments) and as usual, the voices who shouted loudest seemed think it was just down to bad people who would always continue their evil ways whatever we did for them.

        However, now I’m really tempted to ask all the people who do attend their appointments “What made you turn up?”. Much easier than trying to get the non-attenders to admit why they didn’t turn up. (One hunch is that attenders are confident that they’re going to get something useful out of the appointment, whereas non-attenders are more sceptical – but I’d like to test that out.)

        Trouble is, if I read any more of that book, I’m going to have too many ideas – and then I’m into decision overload and nothing will get done (just like all the options we throw at our students … see, I just can’t stop).

        Anyway, great recommendation – thanks
        Elizabeth

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Book review – Switch (via Careers Service 2.0) « Careers – in Theory - September 29, 2010

    […] Book review – Switch (via Careers Service 2.0) Check out this interesting book review by Helen Curry at Careers Service 2.0… I’m going to cut to the chase here, I really loved this book and have been wildly recommending it to everyone I meet. It has a clear message and engaging supporting examples throughout – definitely lives up to the hype. So what is it and what does it have to do with Careers 2.0? Switch really emphasises the importance of engaging your changees with your mission in an emotional way – Find the Feeling. People respond better to individual human exam … Read More […]

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