Saturday, August 22, 2009

Made to Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Why are some ideas remembered and others forgotten? That is the central idea discussed in Made to Stick. With a fair amount of humor and a plethora of anecdotes, the Heath brothers do a thorough job of examining this issue. There are six main qualities that make an idea sticky: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotion, and storytelling. Each of these are explored, and accompanied by credible examples such as the Don’t Mess With Texas campaign for emotion and Subway’s Jared campaign for storytelling. A sticky idea that has lasted for nearly 50 years was JFK’s call to “put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.” Simple, concrete, credible, emotional, and a story to remember. In contrast, the author’s say “Had John F. Kennedy been a CEO, he would have said, "Our mission is to become the international leader in the space industry through maximum team-centered innovation and strategically targeted aerospace initiatives."” I’ve met several CEO’s that talk that way, none of them memorable.

As with many books, the humor is what I enjoyed the most. Buzzwords are depicted as the antithesis of concrete, abstract phrases that don’t really mean anything. A medical example: “idiopathic cardiomyopathy.” As described by the authors: “"Cardiomyopathty" means something is wrong with your heart, and "idiopathic" means "we have no idea why yours isn’t working."” Another funny bit a few pages later: “Remembering the capital of Kansas is an abstract exercise, unless you happen to live in Topeka. By contrast, when you think about "Hey Jude," you may hear Paul McCartney’s voice and piano playing. (If the phrase "Hey Jude" drew a blank, please exchange this book for a Beatles album. You’ll be happier.)” At the close, a long section on how to apply what was discussed to your own ideas boosts this book from interesting to truly useful. Clearly written and fun to read, this is a great book for examining how ideas are communicated. I enjoyed reading it.

First Sentence:
Every move an Army soldier makes is preceded by a staggering amount of planning, which can be traced to an original order from the president of the United States.

1 comment:

Steven said...

Was it coincidence that the first letter of these ideas listed out in the order that you presented them spell "SUCCES"?

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