How can we overcome loss aversion? How can we overcome the status quo bias and get people to change? Well, when we think about trying to generate change, we often default to a very specific type of approach. It's one I'll call pushing. If we just send the boss more information, one more email, she'll come around. If I just call the client one more time or send them one more PowerPoint deck, they'll realize why our course of action is a better one. If I just remind my spouse why doing what I want to do is the best thing, they'll do it. Whatever case we're in, we think if we just push people a little bit harder, we just add a little bit more information or reasons or facts, they'll come around. Look down at that sheet of paper. When you wrote down what you were trying to change, look down at what you suggested you've done already. I'll bet most of those things you suggested were some version of pushings, adding more facts, more information, giving people more reasons why they should do something in particular. Indeed, over 99% of the time when people list things they've tried already to get people to change, they come up with some version of pushing. And it's clear why we think pushing is a good idea. The intuition comes from physics, right? Imagine there's a chair in your office or your home and you want to move that chair. We want to move that chair. We often push it. Want it to get it to go in a particular direction? If we push in that direction, it goes. The chair moves across the floor just like we want. But when it comes to the social world, when it comes to applying this intuition to others, changing minds, action, and organizations, there's an important difference. Because when we push people, they don't just go along like the chair does. When we push people, they often push back. When we try to get people to do something, they often ignore us and they do the exact opposite. And so the question then is, how can we get people to change? If we can't push them, is there another better approach? Well, in my day job as a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, I spent over a decade studying how to solve this problem. With a set of amazing colleagues, I've conducted hundreds of experiments on everything from why people buy and what drives decision-making and choice to why social influence works and why we do the things we do. I've had the pleasure of teaching tens of thousands of students and executives and helped hundreds of companies like Apple, Google, and GE change minds, behavior, and action. I've helped Facebook launch new hardware, the Gates Foundation sharpen messaging, and I've helped small startups, political campaigns, and nonprofit organizations get their products, services, and ideas to catch on. But through all this work, I started wondering whether there might be a better approach to change. I'd worked with different clients and we had tried various versions of pushing and it wasn't working. So I started asking around. I started interviewing different people and looking to the literature. I interviewed startup founders to learn how they drive new adoption of disruptive products and services. I talked with CEOs and managers to discover how great leaders transform organizations. And I spoke to the best salespeople, those superstar folks that get anyone to change their mind to learn how they do it, how they convinced the toughest clients in those difficult situations. And I consulted with public health officials to find out how they change behavior and speed diffusion of important medical innovations. Slowly, through all these research, a different method emerged, an alternate approach to changing minds. And to understand this approach, it helps to look to a completely different domain, and that is chemistry. Think about change in the chemical world. Well, left to itself, chemical change can take eons, algae and plankton turning into oil or carbon being gradually squeezed into diamonds. For reactions to occur, molecules must break old bonds and form new ones. It's a slow and painstaking process taking thousands, if not millions of years. To facilitate change, chemists often use a special set of substances. These unsung heroes clean the exhaust in your car and the grime from your contact lenses. They turn air into fertilizer and petroleum into bike helmets. They speed change, enabling molecules that might take years to interact to do so in seconds. Most interesting though is the way these molecules generate change, the way that they work because chemical reactions usually take a certain amount of energy. Think about turning nitrogen gas into fertilizer, for example. You have to heat things up over a thousand degrees Celsius. If you add enough energy through temperature and pressure, it forces a reaction. Think about turning popcorn kernels into popcorn, right? If you don't heat them up enough, no popcorn pops out. And so generating the same amount of outcome with half the input seems impossible, a violation of the very laws of nature. But these special substances work a different way. They take a different approach. Rather than upping the heat, they lower the barrier change. They alter the condition so that it's easier for chemical bonds to break and rearrange, enabling the same change to happen with less energy, not more. And as you probably guessed already, these substances are called catalysts. Now, catalysts have revolutionized chemistry. Their discovery generated multiple Nobel prizes, kept billions of people from starving, and spawn some of the greatest innovations of the last few centuries. But that underlying approach, that notion of removing barriers is just as powerful in the social world because there's a better way to generate change. It's not about pushing harder. It's not about being more convincing or being a better persuader. It's not about sending another PowerPoint deck or another email. These tactics might work once in a while, but often more than not, they just end up leading people to put up their defenses. Instead, successful change is about being a catalyst. It's about changing minds by removing roadblocks and lowering the barriers that keep people from taking action. Because when we try to change minds, when we try to change organizations in the world, we're often so focused on us and our desired outcome that we spend all our energy to think about the various ways we could push people in that direction. But in doing so, we tend to forget about the person whose mind we're trying to change and what's stopping them. Because rather than asking what might convince someone to change, catalysts often start with more basic question. Why hasn't that person changed already? What's hindering or preventing them? What's stopping them? And that's what this course is going to be all about, how to overcome inertia, incite action, and change minds, not by being more persuasive, or pushing harder, but by being a catalyst, by removing the barriers to change. Think for a moment about driving, right? You get in your car, you buckle your belt, you stick your key in the ignition, and you slowly press the gas pedal. Well, sometimes if you're on an incline, the car just needs a little more gas. But in general, the more you push on the gas, the more movement you get. What happens though if we push and it doesn't budge? What happens if we push on the gas and it doesn't go? Well, whenever change fails to happen, we tend to think we need to do exactly that. We need more horsepower. An employee is not adopting a strategy, send out another email reminding them why they should. Customer is not buying the product, spend more money on advertising, give them another sales call. With all that focus on stepping on the gas, we often overlook an easier and more effective way, identifying what's preventing or inhibiting change. Sometimes we don't need more horsepower, sometimes you just need to unlock the parking brake. And so this course is going to be all about finding those parking brakes, discovering the hidden barriers that are preventing change.