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A Rider and an Elephant walk down a path…

“Switch” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

I read this book for our Leadership Book Club at work, which had its first meeting of the year today. The books selected for this club are chosen by one of our senior leaders and they cover a broad variety of topics. What I always enjoy is that they are not industry (healthcare) specific and so far I’ve been able to apply them well.

This book was no exception.

Chip and Dan Heath are wonderful, well-researched authors and I’ve enjoyed their previous book “Made to Stick” as well as articles in FastCompany. This book is a must read for anyone who has encountered or will encounter change. Essentially everyone. It has personal and professional applications. It offers great insights like this,

“Change is hard because people wear themselves out. And that’s the second surprise about change: What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.” (pg 12)

Of course, as I was reading this I was putting it through my work filter. But I was also using my mom filter. And somewhat more so, my Vision 2020 filter. A little bit about each.

Work. Change is all around us. Frankly, my team of coworkers thrive in a change environment. This book challenges to make sure the change is thought out and addresses the Rider, Elephant and Path. Specifically, I was thinking about my annual leadership goals. Are my 2011 goals SMART? (Specific. Measurable. Actionable. Relevant. Timely.) And not just SMART, but is it big and compelling does it “hit you in the gut”? Am I working to communicate the right information to the right people in the way that will inspire them the most? Are we using our native ideas? Am I developing my growth mindset?

Personal. Bright spots. It might be easier to see the bright spots at work, where I’m not as close to the 7,500 coworkers across our health system as I am to the three other members of Team Schoegler at home. Could this closeness cloud the bright spots? If I want to inspire better behavior or initiate growth in the skills of my four year old, why not focus on what she does really well. Instead of using my words to talk about what she’s doing wrong, why not use those words moments to praise her in order to inspire change? They say it best here,

“How can you make your change a matter of identity rather than a matter of consequences?” (pg 154)

Vision 2020. We’re talking about real change here. Cultural, societal, whatever you might call it, a shift needs to occur if we’re going to redirect our per capita income. If you’re involved at all in Vision 2020, get your hands on this book. Now. (Really. Stop reading and order it online or drive to your local bookstore. Seriously.) The authors almost directly address the issue of our Region’s “death by a thousand cuts” and why we don’t feel the decline in our per capita income,

“In other words, if necessary, we need to create a crisis to convince people they’re facing a catastrophe and have no choice but to move.” (pg 119)

Overall, there are so many take-aways in this book. From recommended reading, to “clinics” for hands-on practice, to a great one-sheet reference on how to make a switch. This book deserves a spot on your reference shelf. If it’s anything like mine, it will get a lot of use.

How are you progressing with your reading this year?