Read the following sentences and decide whether you agree or disagree with each of them.
1. You are a certain kind of person and there is not much that can be done to really change that.
2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.
3. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are cannot really be changed.
4. You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are.
If you agreed with items 1 and 3, you are someone who has a fixed mindset. If you agreed with 2 and 4, you are some who has a growth mindset.
Written by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” is a book about personal and corporate change. The Heath brothers use a very effective analogy in their book. This likens the mind to a rider and our body to an elephant. Taking the above exercise into account, if you found that you have a fixed mindset, it means that the elephant in your body is stronger than the rider. In the morning, our minds say we have to get up, but our body tries to lure us to stay in the bed. At dinner our minds say we have to stop eating, while our body tempts us to keep eating. At the office our minds say we have to keep working, whereas our bodies entice us to take a break. The elephant is six tons and the rider is only about 100 kilograms. In this example, it is very difficult to control the elephant for the rider.
The metaphor of rider and the elephant is not limited to personal matters; the same metaphor is also used for organizational issues. Although a customer-focused, agile and democratic organization is far more desirable, it is can be difficult to be transformed such an organization. Acting slowly when making decisions and generally leaving the responsibility of the decision to the boss is much easier and this is what we are usually accustomed to in management.
The Heath brothers give very interesting examples of change in their book.
Milk is the single largest source of saturated fat in a typical American’s diet. In fact, calculations reveal something remarkable: If Americans switched from whole milk to skim or 1 percent milk, the average diet would immediately drop the level of saturated fat to levels recommended by the US Department of Agriculture. So how do you get Americans to start drinking low fat milk?
People will drink whatever is around the house — a family will plow through low fat milk as fast as whole milk. So, in essence, the problem was even easier than anticipated: You don’t need to change drinking behavior. You need to change purchasing behavior. What behavior do we want to change? We want consumers to buy skim or 1 percent milk. When? The answer is simple: When they’re shopping for groceries.
Researchers Bill Reger and Steve Booth-Butterfield launched a campaign in two communities in West Virginia, running spots on local media outlets (TV, newspaper, radio) for two weeks. In contrast to the bland messages of most public-health campaigns, the 1 percent milk campaign was punchy and specific. One ad trumpeted the fact that one glass of whole milk has the same amount of saturated fat as five strips of bacon. At a press conference, the researchers showed local reporters a tube full of fat — the equivalent of the amount found in a half-gallon of whole milk. Researchers monitored milk sales data at all eight stores in the intervention area. Before the campaign, the market share of low fat milk was 18 percent. After the campaign, it was 41 percent. Six months later it still held at 35 percent. This brings us to the final part of the pattern that characterizes successful changes: If you want people to change, you must provide crystal-clear direction.
The Heath brothers offer a model of change: To change behavior we have to direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path. We can direct the rider by setting a goal, and we can motivate the elephant by using visual evidence and proof. Finally, we can shape the path by changing procedures. In the case of low fat milk, the target was low fat milk consumption. The motivation factor was the emphasis that “one glass of whole milk has the same amount of saturated fat as five strips of bacon” and the new path was about making low fat milk easily accessible on the shelves at markets. 12 December 2010