April Book Club Discussion - Switch

Posted 5 years ago at 10:03 am

Hello, Forum members! This is our April discussion thread for the Forum's Social Change Book Club. This month's pick is Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. (Purchase links at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.)

In this thread, we welcome you to share your thoughts, reflections, and questions about Switch. Some questions to explore include:

1) Not all big changes are hard. Have there been big changes at your organization or collective impact effort where you felt like you embraced the change, rather than resist it?

2) Chapter 2 discusses “bright spots”. What do you consider the bright spots of your work? And how do you think you can create more “bright spots”?

3) Collective impact involves often both social change and systems change. What are the changes your project is working to implement? How has the change process been for you so far?

4) How does your work try to shape the environment around it to make change easier? (e.g. programs to encourage healthy eating. Recycling initiatives. New mentor programs, etc.)

5) When reading Switch, was did you find most resonating when thinking about your own work?

Share your thoughts on Switch for a chance to win a free ebook of the Forum's May book selection!

For each person who shares their thoughts and reflections about Switch, you will be automatically entered into a random drawing to win a free ebook of the Forum's May book club choice—Deepening Community by Paul Born.

To be eligible to win: our only requirement is that we ask you to share your thoughts and questions about this month's reading.

The drawing for the next book will be done on April 30.

Please join us all month to discuss Switch. We'd love to hear what you think!


2. a. Bright Spots are schools, communities, and universities helping to close the opportunity gap for Hispanics. According to the Census Bureau (2011), the Hispanic high school dropout rate has been cut in half from 28 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2011.The  Hispanic graduation rate has increased to 76 percent – an all-time high. College enrollment among Hispanics reached a record high and continues to increase. In 2012, the college enrollment rate among 18-to-24-year-old Hispanic high school graduates was over 49 percent, up from 31 percent in 2002.

2. b. We can create more bright spots by shinning a light on the partners who are helping to support college and career success among Hispanics across the country. Central New Mexico's Mission: Graduate Initiative is one of the bright spot partnerships. See the annual data report at Here are two of the bright spots: (1) Central New Mexico Community College ranked No. 2 in the country for the number of associate degrees earned by Hispanics (1,445). (2) UNM has posted record highs for four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates. Hispanic students have outperformed their White counterparts in third-semester retention, with 80.1% returning for their third semester in fall 2014. 


Submitted by Sheri Williams on Thu, 2015-04-16 11:40

Thanks for the book suggestion, it has come at the right moment.

I have taken a job that requires me to lead change, to a position that has had 3 people in this position in under 7 years.

I have started with the "usual" tried and true leadership that has worked for me thus far in my life. (I was very successful where I was) Now this is very different and I am not as "successful", much more pushing ad pulling.

I wish I had more to add, but I am justing starting the book and wanted to say THANKS!

The resources from this Forum have made the difference for me these past 2 years as I work in a not-for-profit, NGO, etc etc

Submitted by Peter Thomas on Sun, 2015-04-26 18:57

Sarah Greenberg

technical assistance provider / consultant

I found this book very useful - I really like the metaphor of the rider, the elephant, and the path. I think the path is the one we most often miss in collective impact work - we so often neglect to shape the path for change. This is evident for example when funding programs don't align with collective impact goals - encouraging organizations to compete rather than collaborate. We can do a lot of work to appeal to organizations to work together, for rational and emotional reasons, but if the path doesn't ultimately promote collaborative efforts, we won't succeed. 

Submitted by Sarah Greenberg on Wed, 2015-04-29 13:48

Switch was the recommended book for the 100 Million Healthier Lives by 2020 kickoff last October.  Dan Heath even waived his speaking fees to be a keynote presenter.  

Being able to switch focus from the different motivations and incentives of the elephant and rider while setting out a path and eliminating barriers has been a foundational way to thinking. 

One example of a bright spots is a way to connect people, distilling key lessons, resources and finding time to address common barriers. Spreading Community Accelerators through Learning and Evaluation (SCALE) , a two-year initiative supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will help communities develop capability to improve health and spread effective community-driven approaches to build a Culture of Health.

Since IHI's initiation last year, the number of partners continues to expand as people think about how their piece of the puzzle fits the mosiac and are part of the larger learning community with hubs initiated around topics or geography.  More info available at:

Submitted by Ray Lewis on Thu, 2015-04-30 11:29

Tracy Timmons-Gray

administrator, backbone organization, community manager, funder of initiatives, partner organization, other, technical assistance provider / consultant, content administrator, blogger, funder community of practice

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your thoughts on Switch and change management! Since our giveaway is for three ebooks, and this month, we have four responses, we've decided to gift Deepening Community to all four of you. We will be following-up soon by email with you, and thank you for participating in this month's book club discussion!

Submitted by Tracy Timmons-Gray on Sun, 2015-05-03 10:01

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