Over the summer I had the distinct opportunity to read the book "Switch"by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. In this book the authors analyze what approach produces effective change (switch) in individuals. I found their analysis applicable to administration and teaching. The book discusses our internal motivation being personified as an "Elephant" with a "Rider" on a "Path". The "Elephant" represents the emotional side of us that needs to be connected to change in order to focus its energy towards it. The "Rider" represents the logical, numbers-based part of us that finds comfort in a clear message and organization. And of course the "Path" being the road that needs to be shaped for the "Rider" to guide the "Elephant" down (I know ... sounds very circus-like so far!).
Some of the most compelling highlights of the book were these three points;
- First, when you are looking to produce change, don't try to change the person, rather change the situation. A practical example from the book is instead of spending endless time trying to convince someone in your house to switch from whole milk to 2% milk, simply only have 2% milk in your refrigerator.
- A second conclusion was, "Resistance is often a sign of lack of understanding." Too often when we initiate change we run into resistance. This is the logical "Rider" being asked to step outside their comfort zone. The "Rider" will only effectively guide the "Elephant" down the "Path" if they completely understand where they are going and why.
- The third aspect of the book that I found compelling was the concept of "Bright Spots". You may remember Dr. Alvarez speaking about this briefly during the opening convocation. Sometimes we are doing so much that we don't truly know what works. Finding the "Bright Spots" means to examine your practice, find what works and replicate it to initiate positive change. Unfortunately, our past practice has been when we see a problem we just throw something new on top of what we are already doing (Overwhelming to say the least). The authors of "Switch" would suggest we do not have a clear "Path".
So as professionals, I ask you ... "What do you do to initiate change in your practice?"