Blog: All Things Nortec

“Switch: How to change things when change is hard” by Chip and Dan Heath

I read “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath. The book is about how people behave and what drives their behavior. Essentially they describe three components to human actions and they outline them as the elephant, monkey, and environment.

The elephant is our instinctual, emotional drive and our habits. Essentially, the elephant describes our regular non thinking type behavior. Our monkey is riding the elephant. Steering the elephant to do the kind of things we rationally want to do. The analogy does a great job of creating the image of this poor monkey trying to control this very powerful willful elephant. When you see that bag of cheeses the monkey may want to pass and the elephant wants the wonderful orange goodness – who wins? The environment is the people you are around and the social acceptability of your behavior.

After explaining the elephant, monkey and environment, the book gives examples of these forces and how to flip the switch to change the behavior of yourself and others. How it makes sense to appeal to the elephant instead of the monkey in some cases. Sometimes to effect the change you are looking for you need to change the environment. Who do you hang with? Appealing effectively to one or more of these behavioral forces will cause the desired change in yourself and others. I liked the book because it is powerful, interesting and a short easy read.