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The last part of Switch by brothers Chip and Dan Heath discusses “shaping the path” of change in your organization, business, or life. Shaping the path means creating an environment that encourages change or providing a method by which change can happen.
In Switch the authors describe three ways to shape the path - tweak the environment, build habits, and rally the herd. In tweaking the environment the thought is making the journey easier. What is in the environment, culture, way of working that is making a change hard? One example is making buying books from Amazon easy by having the 1-Click system. All of your information is stored in their database so when you want to buy something you just click once and it is done. Tweaking the environment is about making the right behavior easier and the wrong behavior harder.
The second way is building habits. Habits change over time, but by visualizing doing new actions (or developing action triggers) at a certain time can help shift a habit as well as creating a checklist. Anything that reminds a person to shift an automatic behavior into a new one can help in building sustainable new habits.
Finally the third tool is rallying the herd. This means that change happens when there support and help along the way . It is emulating behavior that others close to you are doing. So if you can get a small group to start exhibiting the change they can impact the rest of the organization.
While these are all interesting ways to encourage change I believe that the Heath brother’s perspective on this process simplifies what it takes to really change. They provide great examples of how things can change and what it takes, but the real process of change happens in the practice of it, through the growing pains of it, and with the support and help of people who have already been through a similar process.
When have you had wins in implementing change in your organization? What did you do to encourage the change and make it so that it is accepted and implemented throughout your organization? What can you do today to begin shaping the path of change?
Monica Thakrar has over 14 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.