Made to Stick

The truth is that I usually get pretty bored with business books. Even books that offer helpful ideas (for instance, Good to Great and The Experience Economy) get tedious pretty quickly. I read the first chapter voraciously and then struggle to make it the rest of the way through. Maybe it’s just my own impatience, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of additional information past the ‘big idea’.

So, it’s with some trepidation that I approach “Made To Stick“, the latest in the long list of biz-help books. The authors, brothers Chip and Dan Heath, start wih a good idea (take the idea of stickiness as described in “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell), and turn it into a how-to manual. Can they really make it worth my time to spend the money and read the whole book? Honestly, I haven’t decided yet; even the Tipping Point (which I enjoyed) read better as a New Yorker feature than a standalone book.

I first encountered the book through Neil Takemoto at Cool Town Studios, who have been taking the six fundamental principles of “Made to Stick” and applying them to building cool places. It works pretty well, and of course I like it because it correlates well with my ideas on the use of story in the iterative design process.

Okay, so here are the six principles, excerpted from the “Made to Stick” website.

PRINCIPLE 1: SIMPLICITY
We must create ideas that are both simple and profound.

PRINCIPLE 2: UNEXPECTEDNESS
For our idea to endure, we must generate interest and curiosity.

PRINCIPLE 3: CONCRETENESS
Speaking concretely is the only way to ensure that our idea will mean the same thing to everyone in our audience.

PRINCIPLE 4: CREDIBILITY
We need ways to help people test our ideas for themselves — a “try before you buy” philosophy for the world of ideas.

PRINCIPLE 5: EMOTIONS
We are wired to feel things for people, not for abstractions.

PRINCIPLE 6: STORIES
How do we get people to act on our ideas? We tell stories.

Of course, I’m particularly interested in the sixth principle, and I believe that storytelling is really the core of how to make all these principles work together. Hey, maybe I’ll write a book. I wonder if anyone would read it? I wonder if even I would read more than the first chapter?

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