Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath

made to stick
Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die is a book by brothers Chip and Dan Heath published by Random House on January 2, 2007. The book continues the idea of “stickiness” popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, seeking to explain what makes an idea or concept memorable or interesting.

“If you argue ten points, even if each is a good point, when they get back to the jury room they won’t remember any.”

A one-sentence statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning to follow it.

We can engage people’s curiosity over a long period of time by systematically “opening gaps” in their knowledge—and then filling those gaps.

Naturally sticky ideas are full of concrete images—ice-filled bathtubs, apples with razors—because our brains are wired to remember concrete data.

To summarize, here’s our checklist for creating a successful idea: a Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Story.

This is the Curse of Knowledge. Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind.

No plan survives contact with the enemy

CI is a crisp, plain-talk statement that appears at the top of every order, specifying the plan’s goal, the desired end-state of an operation.

The CI never specifies so much detail that it risks being rendered obsolete by unpredictable events. “You can lose the ability to execute the original plan, but you never lose the responsibility of executing the intent,”

What we mean by “simple” is finding the core of the idea.

To get to the core, we’ve got to weed out superfluous and tangential elements. But that’s the easy part. The hard part is weeding out ideas that may be really important but just aren’t the most important idea.

You can’t have five North Stars, you can’t have five “most important goals,” and you can’t have five Commander’s Intents.

he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

There are two steps in making your ideas sticky—Step 1 is to find the core, and Step 2 is to translate the core using the SUCCESs checklist.

We are THE low-fare airline.

After the lead, information is presented in decreasing order of importance. Journalists call this the “inverted pyramid”

This problem of losing direction, of missing the central story, is so common that journalists have given it its own name: Burying the lead. “Burying the lead” occurs when the journalist lets the most important element of the story slip too far down in the story structure.

“There has to be message triage. If you say three things, you don’t say anything.”

Tversky and Shafir’s study shows us that uncertainty—even irrelevant uncertainty—can paralyze us.

Becoming an expert in something means that we become more and more fascinated by nuance and complexity. That’s when the Curse of Knowledge kicks in, and we start to forget what it’s like not to know what we know.

If a message can’t be used to make predictions or decisions, it is without value, no matter how accurate or comprehensive it is.

Curse of Knowledge in the introduction—the difficulty of remembering what it was like not to know something.

People are tempted to tell you everything, with perfect accuracy, right up front, when they should be giving you just enough info to be useful, then a little more, then a little more.

A great way to avoid useless accuracy, and to dodge the Curse of Knowledge, is to use analogies. Analogies derive their power from schemas: A pomelo is like a grapefruit. A good news story is structured like an inverted pyramid. Skin damage is like aging. Analogies make it possible to understand a compact message because they

Most of the time, though, we can’t demand attention; we must attract it.

The most basic way to get someone’s attention is this: Break a pattern.

Our schemas are like guessing machines. Schemas help us predict what will happen and, consequently, how we should make decisions.

a secondary effect of being angry, which was recently discovered by researchers, is that we become more certain of our judgments. When we’re angry, we know we’re right,

So, a good process for making your ideas stickier is: (1) Identify the central message you need to communicate—find the core; (2) Figure out what is counterintuitive about the message—i.e., What are the unexpected implications of your core message? Why isn’t it already happening naturally? (3) Communicate your message in a way that breaks your audience’s guessing machines along the critical, counterintuitive dimension. Then, once their guessing machines have failed, help them refine their machines.

To make our communications more effective, we need to shift our thinking from “What information do I need to convey?” to “What questions do I want my audience to ask?”

Knowledge gaps create interest. But to prove that the knowledge gaps exist, it may be necessary to highlight some knowledge first. “Here’s what you know.

There is value in sequencing information—not dumping a stack of information on someone at once but dropping a clue, then another clue, then another. This method of communication resembles flirting more than lecturing.

Unexpected ideas, by opening a knowledge gap, tease and flirt. They mark a big red X on something that needs to be discovered but don’t necessarily tell you how to get there. And, as we’ll see, a red X of spectacular size can end up driving the actions of thousands of people for many years.

Concrete language helps people, especially novices, understand new concepts.

If you’ve got to teach an idea to a room full of people, and you aren’t certain what they know, concreteness is the only safe language.

Novices perceive concrete details as concrete details. Experts perceive concrete details as symbols of patterns and insights that they have learned through years of experience.

Concreteness creates a shared “turf” on which people can collaborate.

What makes people believe ideas? How’s that for an ambitious question? Let’s start with the obvious answers. We believe because our parents or our friends believe. We believe because we’ve had experiences that led us to our beliefs. We believe because of our religious faith. We believe because we trust authorities.

The availability bias is a natural tendency that causes us, when estimating the probability of a particular event, to judge the event’s probability by its availability in our memory. We intuitively think that events are more likely when they are easier to remember.

Why is this story format more interesting? Because it allows his lunch partners to play along. He’s giving them enough information so that they can mentally test out how they would have handled the situation.

Buy yourself a copy of the book.

Thanks for reading 🤗

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