Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Summary - The Switch - Part 4

This is the fourth in the book summary series of Switch. For more read part 1, part 2, part 3

We have seen two important methods of creating change - direct the rider and motivate the elephant. The next part of the puzzle is Shape the Path or changing the environment so that it is easy for us to create change.
First we can Tweak the environment to make change easier. There might be simple ways by tweaking the environment, we can create the change. The authors give an example where a manager who was termed as unapproachable change that impression by just making the chairs behind her so that when they came, they can face each other and not face the computer. That way, she will be responsive to the people. I have used it successfully by installing the 'StayFocused' extension so that I will not be distracted easily by wanting to look at twitter or news sites during work hours. Actually this can create a change very easily sometimes. If we want to eat healthy, just throw all the junk food outside. If you want to wake up at  6, try putting the alarm far from you, so that you have to wake up and walk to switch it off.
Next thing is to Build Habits,  encouraging the change. We can create some action triggers, like when I come here, first I will do this. Like when I wake up first thing, I will open my planner and plan the day or go and hit the gym. This will also help very much in creating change. Or just creating some checklists will also go a long way in helping create change.
Next is to Rally The Herd. Actually the authors write about a research finding where we are unconsciously influenced by our peers. When we are alone, we generally do what we feel is right, but when we are with others we tend to first see what the group is doing. This way we become the data for others whom we take as data. So we have to make sure we should make our behavior the acceptable behavior. So we have to highlight the data which is useful for us. Also if we don't have it, we have to apply social pressure so that they do what change we want to create. The authors give good examples of speeding up peer reviews by putting the review times up for everyone to see.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Book Summary - Switch - Part 3

In the part 2 of this book we have seen that the rider should be directed by looking at the bright spots, reducing ambiguity by scripting the critical moves and pointing to the destination.
 But before even the rider can be directed, the elephant has to be motivated to move. So how to motivate the elephant?Elephant is a feeler, so you have to

Find the feeling : Let the people who have to change experience the consequences of not changing or the advantages of successfully doing the change. This brings in emotion to change. This may give a initial motivating boost which you get while reading a personal development book which quickly wanes, so what should be done is we should
Shrink the change: We have so make the big thing into small chunks so that the elephant will get a feeling of do-ability so that they don't get discouraged and altogether stop working. This can be done by identifying what exactly are your small victories so that you can celebrate it and get the high of getting it done, which in a virtuous cycle will bring in more celebrations.
Another helpful thing which can be done is to
Grow your people: The authors say that we make decisions in two ways - one is analytically, which appeals to the rider and other way is by identity which appeals to the elephant. When we cannot approach the problem analytically, we can do it by growing the identity for that in the people. What would a good citizen do in this situation - etc, by this identity questions, lot of change can be successfully enabled. 
There are two types of mentalities of people. One with fixed mindset and other called growth mindset - Fixed mindset people think that their talents and abilities are fixed and hence they cannot be cultivated. Whereas growth mindset people can think of everything as a learning and grow from it.
IDEO has a graph showing the project mood which has hope - > Insights -> Confidence in the order. When they fail they gather insights from that, so they are positively taking failure which is useful for growth.

In the next part, we will see what can be done to improve the environment, i.e shaping the path. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Book Summary - Switch - Part 2

Continued from part 1

In this post I will summarize the 'Direct The Rider' part. 

So you know from the previous part that the rider is often confused by the different options available, and goes into analysis paralysis mode. The rides likes the analysis part, but only with analysis nothing can be achieved. It should be acted upon to achieve any results. So how to start - The authors say that the best way to start is by 

Finding the bright spots: If you want to create change, see if someone else has already achieved that change. Find what did they do and how they did it and try to replicate the parts that have produced results. In an organization, if some new initiatives were started, and if the adoption is mixed, the change leader need not get disappointed. The best way to proceed forward is to observe what the groups which are doing well are doing and try to replicate the same with the people for whom it is not working. In the book, the authors give an example of a social worker, who is  trying to overcome the malnutrition problem in Indonesia. He observed though most of the children are malnourished, there are some people who are having good nutrition. He found this out by weighing the people. He goes to observe what food are they being fed. He identifies that there are differences in the ingredients of their recipes and the timings of their eating. So they take this a bright spot and then tries to direct the parents, i.e the riders of the other children to cook in the same way. Where other workers might have given up saying the people are poor so they don't get to eat well, he tried to look at the bright spots in them and there by solved the problem and created the switch he wanted to. 

Script the critical moves:I feel this is the most determining part in creating change. What the authors mean by this is that the change leaders should remove ambiguities, so that the rider is not stuck in analysis-paralysis mode. In the book they give an example of how the people trying to change the food habits of the americans to reduce fat in their diet. So now you have  a lot to do, you have to identify what foods contain fat and how much to have them or whether to avoid them altogether, which is overwhelming to the people. So people incharge of this found that milk contained the maximum amount of fat they were taking in, so the people gave one clear direction - Pick up the 1% milk instead of the whole milk and this drove adoption very very much. Though the 1% milk was available previously, only after the people in charge of the change 'scripted the critical moves' did the change occur. So it is a must that there should be clarity in the decisions when leading change. 

Point to the destination:By having an energizing goal infront of you, the rider is much more active and will make short term sacrifices for long term gains. So you should have some goals which should be supplemented by scripting the critical moves.  The book has a lot of good examples of balancing these. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Summary - Switch - Part 1

Most of the times we know that we need to change. We even think of what changes we need to make but still most of the times we don't change.

In this bestseller book by Chip and Dan Heath, the set out to find out what is those ingredients required for us to change and for a change leader to create change.

They say three things are necessary for creating change..

1. Shape the path: They have to clear the path or environment for change - For eg, if you want to eat healthy food, other junk food should first be thrown off your shelves. You should fill it with fresh fruits and vegetables. etc.

2. Direct the rider: There are two parts in our brain. One that is emotional and doesn't do what it has to even though it knows. It is swayed by emotion. They call it the elephant. Other part is rational brain which analyses and comes at the right decision. This is called the rider.  They say that due to many alternatives, the rider comes into analysis-paralysis mode and is confused. To overcome this problem, the rider should be directed correctly.

3. Motivate the elephant: As told above, even though when we rationally know what the right decision is, most of the time we fail to see through it if the emotional part of brain, the elephant is not motivated enough. So the elephant should be motivated.

In this book, the authors show the various methods and steps required to achieve the above outcomes. Stay tuned for the next part.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus -6 (Asking for help)

In Venus, people are good at understanding others feelings and responding appropriately, but in Mars, they need to be asked to get help.
So when a woman wants help she should ask in way that is not demanding because men are put off by demands.
The right way to ask for requests is
1. Appropriate Timing - not when is about to do what you want and not when he is very busy
2. Non-demanding attitude -
3. Be  Brief
4. Be direct
5. use will you
Dont expect an yes always. Accept his no s and don't complain or grumble or judge. This way you will get more points and he will be more ready to help you next time

Next when you want something done, tell your request and give a pause. He may grumble but he will do it and then appreciate the fact that he has done it. This way you tell him he is not taken for granted.

just as a woman is more sensitive about being heard and feeling understood when she is
sharing her feelings, a man is more sensitive about being accepted just the way he is. Any
attempt to improve him makes him feel as though you are trying to change him because he is
not good enough.

Understand that sometimes suddenly, your resentment and negative feelings come up related to your past. You can overcome them by writing letters. Also remember love is seasonal, i.e sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is hardwork, sometimes blissful, sometimes empty.

To be successful in our relationships we must accept and understand the different seasons of
love. Sometimes love flows easily and automatically; at other times it requires effort.
Sometimes our hearts are full and at other times we are empty. We must not expect our partners
to always be loving or even to remember how to be loving. We must also give ourselves this
gift of understanding and not expect to remember everything we have learned about being


Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus -5 (Love Letter Technique)

The success of a relationship is solely dependent on
two factors: a manʹs ability to listen lovingly and respectfully to a womanʹs feelings, and a
womanʹs ability to share her feelings in a loving and respectful way.

When something is bothering you and you feel that you will not be able to respond lovingly to your partner you should write a love letter and a response letter.

The main idea or intent of writing a love letter is that you love your partner very much but you have some negative feelings and you want to resolve them so that you can love better.
And the listener should not seek to defend that but should understand the feelings.

The love letter should contain all these feelings in this order anger, sorrow, fear, regret and love. It should also contain how the partner should respond to your feelings.
eg.Dear Max,
1. 1 am so angry that you are late!
2. 1 am sad that you have forgotten me.
3. 1 am afraid you donʹt really care about me.
4. 1 am sorry that I am so unforgiving.
5. 1 love you and 1 forgive you for being late. 1 know you really love me. Thank you for trying.

PS: I just hope you will be more responsible next time and inform me if something urgent comes up .

Women might feel that they needn't tell her husband how to behave but they should know that men are from mars and the culture doesn't teach that to them.

These love letters should be shared with the comfort level they have. They can read the letters aloud to each other or they can give and then meet after some time. Some time men may try to rationalize or not respond in the way their partners expect them to but surely they will change and appreciate it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Book Review - The War of Art

Type:  Non-Fiction
Category: Self-Help
Author: Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield is the author of bestsellers 'The legend of Bagger Vance'. 
This is his non-fiction book on why we don't do the things we want to do and can't do and how to overcome them. It is a small book and a fast read. He rightly identifies what is that is stopping from doing what we want as resistance. He says the resistance is not due to anyone outside of us but the resistance is within us and it always tries to make sure we dont do what we want to do. This takes up the first part of the book. He  shows us the various manifestations of resistance in our lives so that we can identify when we see it. Then in the second part he gives the solution to this problem. He says that the solution to this is turing pro. He sets out to explain how turning pro can cure us of resistance. It contains various practical tips on how to get going. The third and final part of the book deals with the question of where does the inspiration to do this stuff come from and how to tap into it. He takes examples of Mozart, Homer and many other professional artisans to prove that there is some divine force which is helping us achieve that and how to tap into those. Overall a very good read and a very useful one for getting us to get to action.

Rating : Must read.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus -4 (Avoid Arguments)

A man and woman should try to avoid arguments as much as possible, not because of what they say but because of how they say.
A woman wants to feel validated when a woman complains and a man wants his behavior to be approved
e.g if a man comes late and keeps a woman waiting, a women wants to be validated that she had been waiting for a long time and hence felt some discomfort. So she may say - how can you keep me waiting for such a long time. Now the man hears that she is disapproving him saying you cannot do anything right - he tries to explain saying why are you feeling like that, I was stuck in traffic and hence I couldn't come soon. Now women feels that she shouldn't feel bad for his being late i.e her feelings are not validated and man's feelings are disapproved. So to counter this situation, the man has to validate her feelings and women has to be less disapproving.
The way man and women keep score is also a major point of difference and it would be a lot of help to understand that
1. For women, small thing is equal to a big thing - If he gives her an expensive gift he gets one point. Similarly, if he gives small gift also, he gets one point. So if the man thinks that he has given her a big thing but still she doesn't feel satisfied,the reason is this.
2. Men should remember that women can give till the score is skewed very very much like 30 to 0. If the man feels that she is doing because they are even in scores, then he is mistaken. Women do not realize this till they are burnt out and then they start to show resentment but not appreciating the small things done by him because they feel that already they have given too much and now he has to give.
3. Men feel that  because they have done work in office and come home and earned 50 points, now it is his wife's responsibility to earn some points by appreciating that then he is in for trouble. The man only got one point. Now he can earn more by doing little things for her.
4. Now a man stops giving if the woman is not appreciative of what he does. There are five reasons when he stops giving
a. martians like fairness: When they feel that they have worked hard to provide and they have already given enough
b. Venusians like unconditional love
c. Martians given when they are asked
d. Venusians say yes even when score is uneven
e. Martians give negative points.
For a man, the things required are appreciation and the reaction of the girl for what he does. If he doesn't give the required love to him, then he gives negative points. Like if he forgot something she asked and then she makes a big mess of him, then surely she will get negative points but if she just understands and doesn't say anything she gets many bonus points.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus -3 (Different Emotional Needs)

The major emotional needs of a woman are caring, understanding, respect (by showing love with flowers, gifts etc), devotion, validation and reassurance
The major emotional needs of a guy are trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval and encouragement
So while a woman needs caring, a man needs trust
while a woman needs understanding, a man needs acceptance
while a woman needs respect, a man needs appreciation for the things he has done
while a woman needs devotion a man needs admiration
while a woman needs validation a man needs approval
while a woman needs reassurance a man needs encouragement.
A woman should never try to change a man. She may feel that she wants to change, what she should never act on the feeling. She should just trust the man and accept him so that he can change himself. The book has an amazing story called Knight in a shining armour which tells the story of how - by trying to improve a man a woman loses him.. I think it is very very right. A man doesn't like to be told what to do unless he asks.
Women should give trust not advice. When a woman gives unsolicited advice to a man, he either actively resists change by rationalizing and arguing or passively resisting by saying he will do it, but never does it.
There are some practical ways of how women can deal with the facts when a change is required in man.Try not to give advice unless asked. Trust that he will change himself. Practice patience and show that you trust him. Show that he doesn't need to be perfect for her love. Share feelings openly but don't ask him to change.
Practice forgiveness and start doing things for yourself without depending always on him for your happiness..

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus -2 (Caves & Wells)

Men have a rubber band type behaviour, i.e they are intimate for sometime, then they have to go into their cave before they can come closer again like the more a band expands on one side, the stronger it comes back.

Women have a behaviour called - "going into a well". They have a wave like behaviour. When are going to the peak, they feel happy and ignore any issues they have. Once they hit the peak they begin to go down. Then their confidence level decreases and feel insecure. They may become reactive during this time. If a man tries to fix her during this time, it will backfire. They should reassure their women of their love and be there for them. They just have to listen to their issues and once their self confidence hits the bottom, they will again feel good about themselves and come back lovingly.

What if both happen at the same time - Then it is ok for a man to say that I need some time, I will come back to you. Women may ask what are they getting by this - They are getting a more attentive and loving man if they allow them to be in their cave for some time.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus -1

Men like to solve their own problems and they like taking advice when asked.
Women like to share their problems, even when they are not expecting them to be solved and they don't require solutions. They just want their men to listen to them.
Women should not give advice to their husbands unless asked.
Men feel fulfilled in a relationship when they feel needed but turned off by neediness
Women feel fulfilled if they are cherished.
Women grow resentful when they feel that they have given more and are getting less in return.
They should learn to set boundaries, so that they dont resent it.

ʺNeedingʺ is openly reaching out and asking for support from a man in a trusting manner, one
that assumes that he will do his best. This empowers him. ʺNeediness,ʺ however, is desperately
needing support because you donʹt trust you will get it. It pushes men away and makes them
feel rejected and unappreciated.

Men are afraid of giving because they are afraid of not giving enough. So they don't make an effor to give.
What women says should not be taken literally for e.g - If she says "Younever listen to me" - what she says is he is not listening to her right now. Women like to take poetic license in expressing their feelings but men just give information like.

eg. W: ʺWe never go out.ʺ M: ʺThatʹs not true. We went out last week.ʺ

When a venusian is upset, she uses generalities
Male intimacy cycle: When men become too close, they withdraw. It is normal for men. When they come too close, they feel like loosing themself. So they got their caves and rejenuvate themselves.
Women should understand this and not punish them for pulling away