Institute Keynote – Author of "Switch: How to Change Things"

Gustavo Torrez

I am currently at The Institute 2010 – Shifting to a Higher Gear tobacco skills conference hosted by CDC and TTAC.

The opening Keynote Speaker was Dan Heath, Author of the Book Switch – How to change things when change is hard.

Dan’s charismatic nature sweep the room, and all of a sudden 8:30am did not feel so early!

He begins talking about how Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems – the rational mind and the emotional mind, both compete for control.

The Rational conscious deliberative mind wants a great beach body the Emotional unconscious automatic mind wants that the ice cream… Sound familiar? I see it as the good gender-neutral individual in white on one shoulder and the bad gender neutral individual in red on the other shoulder. How may times do we have these types of discussions with ourselves?

What happens if they agree… CHANGE can be made with very little resistance!

It is not always that easy, and sometimes you need to address how to really create change.

Dan shows us the picture below, a man on an elephant. The man thinks he is in control but in reality who is in control? Of course the elephant!

Dan’s 3-part framework for behavior change he addresses in the follow ways

Direct the rider (man on the elephant), direction for the rider

Motivate the Elephant, we have to have the desire to change

Shape the path, make it simply easier to make the change, clear your path

When we talks about “Directing the rider”, he says the rider focuses on problems. The elephant is doing what it wants…

So what can you do to create change?

Find bright spots, identify what’s working today and do more of it…

People remember the negative longer than they remember the positive, he referenced a study which showed that individuals pay more attention to the negative things, an not enough of the positive.

This is so true though right? When we watch the evening news the top story is something negative, throughout the evening they focus on the negative things happening in our communities more that the positives.

Dan believes “we need to identify the bright spots” When you look at your kids report card don’t highlight the F in math, but highlight the A in English and the B in History, then identify ways it take to assist them in bringing the F grade up.

How often do we look for the bright spots, and build on them? Got you thinking… I know it has me thinking….

Part two if his framework is to “Motivate the Elephant”

The elephant speaks feeling, speak to the feeling to insight action. Knowledge is not enough, have to speak to the emotions. Change comes from emotion and if you motivate the elephant, you will create change.

Shrink the change, our elephants are easily spooked, he addressed phrasing the issue without making it look more daunting than it actually is! Take it one step at the time, and you will see it is easier than you think.

Ambiguity is the enemy of change.

Our role is to get people moving in the right direction, and if we shrink the change and take it one step at a time we will take the path of less resistance. Which transitions into part three of his framework.

“Shaping the path”

We have to make it easier, give people the map, be more direct he says…

Don’t just tell someone that there is a food drive on Friday at the town center, give them a map to the town center, tell them what you need, and the times to come by.

What can you do to make it easier for people, I believe we are a society of convenience… bottled water, sliced bread, it’s all convenient! So if we shape the path we will create the road of less resistance!

All in all, think about Dan’s 3-part framework, and spend a little extra time focusing on the bright spots, from talking with your child about grades, to embarking on your next social cause see how these strategies can assist you!

And if his great presentation wasn’t enough to get me reading the book, right after it Bronson Frick from Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights stood up and said it’s one of the best books he’s ever read on behavior change. OK, this book now becomes a must read!


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One thought on “Institute Keynote – Author of "Switch: How to Change Things"

  1. He was fabulous! I left the session inspired to look for bright spots and figure out how to shape the path! In both my personal and professional lives. I will definitely be reading his book which had been collecting dust on my bookshelf before I heard him speak.

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