Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Made to Stick
By Chip Heath and Dan Heath, 2007
You should know
I've read several books recently with similar themes as the ones in this book, and I'll be reviewing them as I go -- I'm fairly backlogged. In fact, this book is inspired by Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, which is in my queue to be reviewed.
The Heath brothers are both educators -- Chip a business professor and Dan a former textbook publisher -- who have spent their careers looking for the ideas that really stick in the minds of students or consumers. In Made to Stick, the Heaths outline the factors of "sticky" ideas: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories, which in acronym form almost spells out the word SUCCESS. There's just one "S" missing.
Simplicity means the idea should be as basic as possible, not weighed down with extra details. Sure, those details may seem crucial to you, but you're the expert, and you're trying to communicate with a total novice (this is called the "curse of knowledge").
Unexpectedness means what it sounds like -- doing something that catchers the listener or viewer off-guard, which causes them to remember what you did.
Concreteness means concentrating on tangible things. Abstracts float over people's heads too easily to make a concept sticky.
Credibility means trusting the source. The "friend of a friend" designation we use when repeating urban legends is actually a citation of credibility -- the teller, apparently, actually knows the victim.
Emotions are also fairly self-explanatory. Making someone care is a good way to make them remember, and it's easier to care about a single person than a million all at once.
And Stories tend to sum up at least a few of the other factors. They can be concrete, emotional, credible, and can easily incorporate both the simple and the unexpected.
I very much enjoyed this book, but I had to look up the SUCCESs formula... so maybe Made to Stick could have been just a touch stickier.
Read it if...
...You're into nonfiction, particularly about human nature. If you like Malcolm Gladwell, or The Paradox of Choice, or Freakonomics, this will fit right in
The rest of the Internet
The book's official website and blog.
The Wikipedia page.
A glowing review by Michael S. Hopkins at the Christian Science Monitor.
tink at BlogCritics is impressed by the book.
Trent at The Simple Dollar outlines how he applies the SUCCESs formula to his own life.
Ankesh Kothari at BlogClout outlines how bloggers can use the concepts in the book.
Awesome link of the week
Way back in the early-to-mid 1990s, cartoons were beginning to take on the technical and technological advances we're used to, while maintaining the sometimes dark, violent, even adult aspects of cartoons of years gone by. Go back and watch Animaniacs, or Batman: the Animated Series, or this Disney series that has been called an American anime.
Gargoyles still has a cult following and is back in graphic novel form. And for years, Greg Weisman has been answering questions for the fans.
Ask Greg is a forum for fans to ask questions about Gargoyles and other series Weisman has worked on (Max Steel, W.I.T.C.H., The Spectacular Spider-Man ). There's usually a backlog (Greg is still very active in his day job(s), after all), and when it gets overwhelming, the site is sometimes closed to new questions, but even when that happens, there's an extensive archive -- you might be able to find out more to answer your question than you thought. And it's all canon (or at least semi-canon).