How Anyone Can Make Sweeping Change

If you’re like most people, you’ve pondered why it’s so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities and even in our own life.

In Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, authors Dan and Chip Heath chronicled a wide range of people who have found creative ways to make sweeping change happen without having structural authority. In other words, change can be spearheaded by middle managers, parents or social activists.

In one example, college student and conservationist Paul Butler didn’t have the authority to enact laws against killing an island parrot. Therefore, to save the species, Butler appealed to the emotions of the locals of St. Lucia by promoting the native parrot as “one of their own.” The St. Lucia Parrot only existed on that island, and the islanders “were the type of people who protected their own,” his campaign suggested. His campaign included puppet shows, parrot T-shirts, bumper stickers and even songs (written by local musicians).

The Heath brothers use many examples like this one to demonstrate that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern that can be used by just about anyone. First, find the bright spots, script the critical moves needed that will lead to the change, and point to the destination (what does the change look like.).

In a blog post late last year, I used some of the Heath brothers’ principles to demonstrate how you can turn an average presentation into one that could inspire your audience to change behavior.

The Heath brothers are also the authors of the 2007 bestseller Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

This is part of a series of blog posts running until the end of the year on business books I’ve read in 2011 that can enhance the way you do presentations, improve the way you tell stories, engage with your audience, or market your business through social media or other channels.

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