Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Switch: Finding Bright Spots

Fast Company has published an excerpt from Chip and Dan Heath's upcoming book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. As you may know, the Heath brothers wrote a best-selling book titled Made to Stick a few years ago.

In the excerpt, the authors explain how we can be easily overwhelmed when we face a complex problem that has a wide array of causes. How do we approach such a situation? They argue that we should search for bright spots. What do they mean? The authors tell the story of Jerry Sternin and his attempts to address malnutrition in Vietnam. Sternin went to a village and identified the children who were larger and healthier than the typical child. He examined how those families lived and how they ate. He discovered some important differences in eating habits and diet. Then, Sternin worked with the community to bring small groups of families together to prepare meals in a new manner consistent with how the better-nourished families cooked and ate. That village and many others achieved wonderful results. It's a remarkable story! Here is the Heaths' conclusion:

"In tough times, we'll see problems everywhere, and "analysis paralysis" will often kick in. That's why, to make progress on a change, we need to provide crystal-clear direction -- show people where to go, how to act, what destination to pursue. And that's why bright spots are so essential: They provide the road map... You may not be fighting malnutrition, but if you're trying to change things, there are going to be bright spots in your field of view. And if you learn to identify and understand them, you will solve one of the fundamental mysteries of change: What, exactly, needs to be done differently?"

I look forward to reading the book, due out next week!

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