This is the best book about communications I've read since I discovered Stephen Denning's work on telling business stories. I highly recommend Made to Stick to all those who want to get their messages across in business more effectively.
Imagine if people remembered what you had to say and acted on it. Wouldn't that be great? What if people not only remembered and acted, but told hundreds of others who also acted and told? Now you're really getting somewhere!
Brothers Chip (an educational consultant and publisher) and Dan (a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Business School) Heath combine to develop Malcolm Gladwell's point about "stickiness" in The Tipping Point. To help you understand what they have in mind, the book opens with the hoary urban tale of the man who ends up in a bathtub packed with ice missing his kidney after accepting a drink from a beautiful woman. That story, while untrue, has virtually universal awareness. Many other untrue stories do, too, especially those about what someone found in a fast food meal.
The brothers Heath put memorable and quickly forgotten information side-by-side to make the case for six factors (in combination) making the difference between what's memorable and what isn't. The six factors are:
1. Simplicity (any idea over one is too many)
2. Unexpectedness (a surprise grabs our attention)
3. Concreteness (the more dimensions of details the more hooks our minds use to create a memory)
4. Credibility (even untrue stories don't stick unless there's a hint of truth, such as beware of what's too good to be true in the urban legend that opens the book)
5. Incite Emotions in Listeners (we remember emotional experiences much more than anything else; we care more about individuals than groups; and we care about things that reflect our identities)
6. Combine Messages in Stories (information is more memorable and meaningful in a story form . . . like the urban legend that opens the book)
Before commenting on the book further, I have a confession to make. This book has special meaning for me. I was one of the first people to employ and popularize the term "Maximize Shareholder Value" by making that the title of my consulting firm's annual report (Mitchell and Company) over 25 years ago when we began our practice in stock-price improvement. That term has become almost ubiquitous in CEO and CFO suites, but hasn't gone very far beyond the discussions of corporate leaders, investment bankers and institutional investors and analysts.
The authors use that term in the book as an example of a communication that hasn't stuck broadly. And they are right. Having watched that term over the years go into all kinds of unexpected places and be quoted by people who had no idea how to do it long ago convinced me of the wisdom of telling people what to do . . . not just what the objective is.
The authors make this point beautifully in citing Southwest Airline's goal of being "THE low-fare airline." If something conflicts with being a good low-fare airline at Southwest, it's obvious to everybody not to do it.
You'll probably find that some of the examples and lessons strike you right in the middle of the forehead, too. That's good. That's how we learn. I went back to a new manuscript I'm writing now and wrote a whole new beginning to better reflect the lessons in Made to Stick. I've also recommended the book already to about a dozen of my graduate business students. So clearly Made to Stick is sticking with me.
If you find yourself skipping rapidly through the book, be sure to slow down and pay attention on pages 247-249 where the authors take common communications problems and recommend what to do about them (such as how to get people to pay attention to your message). That's the most valuable part of the book. It integrates the individual points very effectively and succinctly.
I also liked the reference guide on pages 252-257 that outlines the book's contents. You won't need to take notes with this reference guide in place.
So why should you pay attention? The authors demonstrate with an exercise that people who know and use these principles are more successful in communicating through advertisements than those who are talented in making advertisements but don't know these principles. Without more such experiments, it's hard to know how broad the principle is . . . but I'm willing to assume that they have a point here.
No book is perfect: How could this one have been even better? Unlike Stephen Denning's wonderful books on storytelling, this book is more about the principles than how to apply the principles. I hope the authors will come back with many how-to books and workbooks.
I would also like to commend the book's cover designer for doing such a good job of simulating a piece of duct tape on the dust jacket. That feature adds to the stickiness of this book.
on 17 August 2011
This book is especially nice to read if you ran out of Gladwell's books and want some more. As it states in the book, it concentrates on the stickiness factor, which is one of the main themes of Gladwell's "Tipping point".
Having "clinics" in between of chapters is pretty useful. They help you to see that the things that are written in the book can actually be used in the real situations. Also the whole framework of stickiness is well... sticky, and easy to remember. However, authors do not discover America and all the concepts there are pretty logical and straightforward, nevertheless you do not see them used a lot in everyday life, sadly.
Overall, great book and provides the great value for its genre, price and time-investment needed.
on 29 March 2012
This is an excellent book! The authors have identified those factors that make an idea become viral and the stuff of legend regardless of whether or not its true, correct or even any good. They have included plenty of evidence in the form of case studies and tips on how to use the information to make your ideas "sticky". Often books such as these are interesting but give you no clue as how to apply what they tell you to your own life. The fact that this one does makes it stand out for me. Its also nice and easy to read. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone involved in marketing, copy writing, journalism, writing or blogging.
on 28 February 2014
We all have good ideas. Yet, most of our good ideas often amount to little or nothing simply because, even after sharing them, they are rarely, if ever, remembered. Simply put, many good ideas do not succeed in the world because they fail to stick. In contrast, we know that urban legends have a way of sticking in spite of the fact that they are not even true! People tend to remember and hold onto legends like, “The Great Wall of China can be seen from outer space,” and, “You only use ten percent of your brain.” We might ask, why is that? Why do some ideas stick while others do not?
If you’re like most people who have trouble making their good ideas stick, try reading the bestselling book Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. “No expertise is needed to apply these principles,” assure the Heath Brothers (Heath 18). Instead, Made to Stick provides a method for common people to present ideas so that they are remembered, understood, and acted upon.
The Heath brother’s explain that failed communication is when, “A biology teacher spends an hour explaining mitosis, and a week later only three kids remember what it is,” or, “A manager makes a speech unveiling a new strategy as the staffers nod their heads enthusiastically, and the next day the frontline employees are observed cheerfully implementing the old one,” (Heath 5). Whether you’re a teacher trying to write a lecture for students, a manager providing new direction for a business, or simply an “Average Joe” with a good idea, Made to Stick has application.
Chip Heath and Dan Heath argue that for ideas to succeed you need SUCCESs: A Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Story. Chip and Dan Heath then go on to teach the parts of SUCCESs in a comprehensive, applicable, and fun way. To back up their claims, the Heath brothers use narrative examples, experimental results, and interactive tasks.
What is so impressive about the book is how the authors carry out their own method within it. In fact, I remember almost every aspect of the book, which for me is admittedly rare. By relating good ideas to urban legends, the audience has a clear image of what a good idea looks like. Their main points are summarized in an unforgettable acronym. Their examples are interesting to read and keep the reader engaged. And lastly, not only does the reader have fun while reading; they are learning the principles and techniques being proposed by the authors.
My suggestion is to buy or borrow the book as fast as possible if you’re in the field of business. However, others outside of the business world will find this book an informative and entertaining read. In fact, anyone who wants their ideas to reach their fullest potential must read, Made to Stick.
on 14 April 2012
This book is brilliant for anyone working in communications. It's also extremely enjoyable - it's probably the first factal book that I've ever taken on holiday and have found difficult to put down! I've been working in marketing for nearly 20 years but have moved to internal comms and found out about this book - it's a perfect accompaniment to the Melcrum Black Belt 1 course in Internal Communications and helps to consolidate a number of themes from the course. I can't recommend it highly enough.
on 2 December 2015
I've got a technical background and, although I'm a good writer, I always had trouble understanding how to use stories without it feeling like a manipulative device. This book was a great read, and explains - with research - the psychology around the reason for using stories in communication in a pragmatic way that I can understand and appreciate. It has already changed both my writing and teaching for the better and I've only just finished it.
on 17 May 2015
I love this book. I'd recommend it to anyone who works in sales, marketing, social media, education, management or ANY field which involves imparting information to other people. Walks through 5-6 key concepts which build to a comprehensive understanding of the topic. Can't imagine anyone in the fields I mentioned buying this book and not finding something interesting and useful to take away from it.
on 19 April 2011
So what makes it so good?
Information is given, given again, explained, and then given again. All in a very readable, entertaining manner. I remember it's what good teachers in the past used to do. But the content is excellent, with stories explaining the relevance and impact.
All I need to do now is implement it....
on 18 September 2008
I really wanted to like this book, I'd heard good things about it. But for me, it fails to deliver. The authors identify a number of traits that make ideas 'sticky', but then spend way too much space on each of these areas without adding much value. Most of the content seemed to either be common sense or a repeat of anecdotes, stories and obsevations that you'll have seen (or at least something similar) in other books or magazines. I really had to work to get to the end of this one.
Read it by all means, just don't expect anything too insightful or you'll be disappointed, I was.
on 25 October 2010
This book is all about getting your message across effectively and this book does exactly that. It takes its SUCCESs model (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credble, Emotion, Stories) and applies it quite well throughout the book but where it comes out strongest is by using stories as illustrations of their points.
The stories are great, they are really great stories that stick in your mind, there's one about how one teacher explained racism to a class of young children after the death of Martin Luther King by dividing them into blue eyes and brown eyes and treating each group differently and that lesson was so powerful for the class that they all remember it 30 or 40 years later and it's a story I won't forget anytime soon.
Their message is simple and clear and the way they get it across is both thoughful and entertaining.