Book Review: 'Made to Stick' by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
In today’s world, it seems that urban legends, conspiracy theories, and gossip spread effortlessly, while the truth has a difficult time catching up.
Important ideas such as discoveries in medicine, technology, and politics, often have a harder time reaching the public. Why do some ideas thrive while others die, is the question authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath attempt to answer in their book ‘Made to Stick.’
The book serves as a guide that shares the six key qualities needed to make an idea or story stick. These six qualities are simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotional, stories. Better known in the book as S.U.C.C.E.S.
The first principle is simplicity. An idea must be stripped down to its core and be both simple and profound. The message should be similar to a proverb. A short statement that a person could spend a lifetime learning to follow, such as, the ones who are crazy enough to change the world are the ones that do.
The second principle is unexpectedness. One method is to use surprise and tell the readers something they weren’t expecting. But, for the idea to endure, one must generate interest and curiosity. This can be done by beginning a story with a mystery, so that the audience has to stay along for the ride until the end.
The third principle is concreteness. Ideas should have concrete images and words. This requires communicating in a universal language and avoiding the ‘curse of knowledge.’ This occurs when a person is highly trained in one area and assumes everyone she is speaking to is an expert in the same space. For example, a CFO explaining the company’s tax savings in detail to a group of people who don't have a background in accounting.
The fourth principle is credibility. People are more likely to believe an idea if it comes from a credible source. This can require live examples or data and statistics. It also helps to be a person of authority, or have external credibility from an organization.
The fifth principle is emotional. For an idea to stick, it must create a strong feeling with the person. One method for doing so is by creating empathy for specific individuals. Associate the idea with things people already like and appeal to their self-interest. This is why charities tell people their donations will go to helping this one girl named Delu, instead of towards the entire country Rwanda.
The final principle is stories. Stories embody most of the SUCCES framework. A story should be simple and concrete, have an element of surprise, and evoke strong emotions.
For each key principle, the Heath brothers provide a case study of a story before and after applying the SUCCES framework. Readers can see how stories differ and apply the knowledge to their own cause.
Whether a person is a researcher, journalist, or any other occupation, if there is an important idea that people should know about, applying the six principles from this book will transform the way people communicate ideas.
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