Made to Stick

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – Chip Heath & Dan Heath
Why do some ideas stick and others don’t? Why do some of the strongest and most detailed presentations have no impact? The brothers, Chip and Dan, offer answers in the book Made to Stick. Though there is no formula for a sticky idea, they “do draw from a common set of traits, which make them more likely to succeed” (15). They summarize these traits with the acronym: SUCCESs: Sticky ideas are Simple (but not simplistic), Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Storied. The authors give numerous examples of each trait. For example, one way to get people to remain interested is to move them from a Huh? experience to an Aha experience. The Heath brothers defense of story as a means of influence is powerful: “The problem is that when you hit listeners between the eyes they respond by fighting back. The way you deliver a message to them is a cue to how they should react. If you make an argument, you’re implicitly asking them to evaluate your argument – judge it, debate it, criticize it – and then argue back, at least in their minds. But with a story… you engage the audience – you are involving pople with the idea, asking them to participate with you” (234). After explaining the common traits of sticky ideas, the Heath brothers argue that for an idea to “be useful and lasting, it’s got to make the audience: 1. Pay attention, 2. Understand and remember it, 3. Agree/Believe, 4. Care, and 5. Be able to act on it (246). The traits make this response possible: 1. We pay attention to the unexpected, 2. We understand and remember the concrete, 3. We agree and believe in the credible, 4. We care about the emotional, and 5. We are enabled to act through story. I find it fascinating that the Heath brothers are essentially describing the way Jesus taught. He was simple yet profound, he taught unexpected truths and his stories took unexpected twists, his illustrations were concrete, his credibility was obvious, he appealed to the emotions, and he taught primarily through stories – both the overarching story of God and smaller parables and stories.

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