As the date for this year’s Chick-fil-A Leadercast approaches in a couple of months I am re-posting some of the previous years highlights to provide a taste of what you might expect at this year’s event.

Chip Heath
Author of Made to Stick, & Switch Columnist for Fast Company, and Stanford Professor


  • We know change is hard?
  • We know change is impossible-can’t teach old dog new tricks?
  • Change is unpleasant?
  • He shows pictures of marriage–>Marriage=Change

Marriage is a time that we embrace change, so change is not always seen as negative.

  • Picture of kids=change
  • Having kids is change, yet we embrace it, we celebrate this type of change.
  • So it is not change itself that we don’t like, it depends on the type of change as to whether of not we like it or not.
  • So not all aspects of us is resistant to all types of change.

There is a part of us is in love with our current comfort.

  • Need for change=new body, but Oreos are more powerful than that need for new body so we eat the cookies.

The Elephant and the Rider

  • Picture a large elephant with a rider on top.
  • The rider now has to handle the elephant.
  • Now imagine that this elephant represents emotions.

Emotional Elephant

  • Now how do we drive this emotional elephant?
  • Need to provide direction for elephant.
  • Need to provide motivation for the elephant.
  • Emotions are deeply felt, so this makes providing direction and motivation a challenge, especially if it involves change. The emotion to resist the change can be powerful and hard to overcome.
  • How do we handle this challenge?

Successful change is the result of providing both direction and motivation for the elephant.

Successful Change:

  • We usually focus on the negative.
  • We tend to focus on the games we lose instead of the ones we won.
  • We focus on our mistakes versus our accomplishments.

The Power of Positive Differentiators

Chip then tells  story of successfully improving a terrible child nutrition problem in Vietnam under extremely difficult circumstances by focusing on the best nourished kids as a group and examining what their mother’s were doing differently than the other mothers.

  • They identified the “positive differentiators” in the villages and used those to help improve the situation for the whole village.
  • In other words, they worked to discover what these mothers were doing right versus worrying about what the other mothers were doing wrong. This technique led to the solution that dramatically improved the health of more than 80% of the children in less than six months.
  • Another way to describe this, they went out and found the “best practices” of this group and duplicated them to the rest of the village.
  • They eventually used this same methodology to positively impact 265 villages in the country helping more than 2.2 million children have better nutrition and health under extremely poor and difficult conditions.

Study the Bright Spots!

Are there bright spots in your organization that if analyzed and studied then duplicated in other parts of your organization could expand successful change?

Motivate the elephant for the long journey of change!

Look for the bright spots and copy them!

Catch someone doing something right, celebrate it and duplicate it!


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