Tag Archives: book review

Book Review: The Tyranny of Dead Ideas

Guest Post by Washington Grantmakers President Tamara Copeland

For the last year now, many have been talking about the “new normal” as we all adjust to what portends to be a new economic reality. But, if we sat down to define the new normal, it’s likely that we would all define it differently.

In The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Revolutionary Thinking for a New Age of Prosperity, Matt Miller, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a contributing editor to Fortune, suggests that just as we share language with differing meaning, we also share broad concepts that we define similarly, but that they simply are not true. They may have been true at one time, but now they are more mythic than real.
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How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Over at the Minnesota Council on Foundation‘s Philanthropy Potluck blog, Stephanie Jacobs has a great post reviewing Dan and Chip Heath’s new book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. Here’s a snippet:

According to a new book by Dan and Chip Heath, it’s not necessarily that change is hard.  In fact, some changes are pretty easy to make or even happen without people noticing (for instance, did you think ketchup was still the number one condiment in the U.S.?  Guess again!)  In Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, the Heath brothers explore why some changes are easier to make than others.  The stories, tools, and advice they provide can be useful in your personal life, in your organization, or when you are trying to make changes in a community.

Dan and Chip start off by stating that there are two sides of the brain that inform how we decide to make changes: 1) the rational side that prefers logic and reason, and 2) the emotional side that caters to our feelings.  When these sides work together, making a change is easier.  When they work against each other, it’s much harder to make a change.  The simplest example of this is demonstrated when someone is trying to lose weight.  The rational side of the brain knows that to lose weight you should eat salads, but the emotional side of the brain really wants a cookie.

The authors take this premise to build on a metaphor borrowed from The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.  Imagine that the emotional side of your brain is a gigantic elephant that is instinctual and impulsive (“Mmmmm…cookie!”)  Now imagine that the elephant has a rider on its back, trying to guide that elephant in a certain direction.  The rider is the rational side of your brain (“Dressing on the side, please!”)

Stephanie digs a little deeper and passes on the three secrets to making change easier. Read the full post here.