Sunday, March 14, 2010

SWITCH -- 3 Myths about Change

When I last spoke with authors Chip and Dan Heath, they ad just published their first book, Made to Stick. It was an instant success and frankly one of my all time favorite reads. It outlined how marketers/communicators could embed life and memorability into their communications. Now they’ve come back to us with a completely different book – about change. But as I was reading SWITCH, it occurred to me that these two topics aren’t really that different. Listen to the podcast interview is here.

Much of their new book talks about the rider and elephant – the basis for why change fails, what we need to think about when attempting change, and the unique roles each of these two characters play in making change stick.

Their book also takes head on the myths surrounding change and starts to debunk them into three very easy to understand new truths – the Health brothers call them surprises:

  1. What looks like a people problem is really a situation problem.
  2. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.
  3. What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.

While much of what they write about can be easily shelved into the change management slot, or even corporate communications, I think there are some marketing application opportunities here, too. Among the many stories they use to illustrate their book, one great story is the example of how two health researchers were trying to find ways to get people to eat a healthier diet – it’s their 1% milk story.

So, can marketers use the ideas in this book to help them craft their messaging and sell more products or increase usage? Absolutely. Can communicators use the lessons in this book to help communicate change in their organizations? Absolutely – in fact I am already putting into place their ideas for destination postcards.

If you are a marketer or communicator who wants to – and please forgive the term – be a change agent in their work or profession – this interview identifies where you should start. After all, being good at communicating change is the first step to becoming better at leading change.

What are your reactions to the Heath brothers latest book? What did you think of Made to Stick? How are these two books helping you in your marketing and communicating efforts?

-- David Kinard, PCM

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