Made to Stick: 6 universal characteristics of ideas that won't leave your head

I’m sure you have lots of good ideas. Probably even a few great ideas. But ideas are a common, almost everyone has good ideas, even great ideas. Sadly, we all have loads and loads of bad ideas too, with hardly any way to determine whether an idea is good or bad (or great).

I recently ran across “ Made to Stick” (Amazon affiliate) a book by Chip and Dan Heath explaining why some ideas survive and others die. The Heath’s propose that one characteristic of good ideas is something they label stickiness. “Sticky” ideas “stick” in our heads whether we want them there or not. Much like a well-crafted pop song, all sticky ideas have several characteristics in common. These characteristics are explained in concise detail, and turn out to be largely common sense.

I also really enjoyed how the Heath brothers used the principles they expound in a self-referential way to bootstrap the book. Their presentation really drove the material home for me, the book having an intrinsic stickiness of its own.

I spent a pleasant afternoon reading Made to Stick—and taking notes—while on a recent weekend getaway to Sacred Springs in Dunsmuir California. It’s very much to the author’s credit that their writing was accessible even in a house of 19 (!) people over the weekend. No way I could have handled, say, Proust in such an environment.

If you’re interested in what makes real products take hold in people’s minds, and stay in people’s minds year in and year out, you will learn a lot from Made to Stick:

  • Chip and Dan break the Stickiness Principle into two simple steps, and walk you through the SUCCES checklist (The SUCCES checklist is worth the price of this book all by itself.)
  • Just knowing the 6 principles of stickiness may give you an instant epiphany for a creative breakthrough, giving you enough information to continue a project... or drop a project that you now know won't stick.
  • How finding your core message will shatter "decision paralysis" (AKA The Paralysis of Analysis) and let you (and your team) prioritize quickly and effectively to increase your stickiness.
  • Understanding psychological schemas, as explained by the Heaths (Simple, p. 53), lets you strip your ideas down to their simplest, most elegant forms. Schemas give your audience or customers a way to instantly recall your idea far into the future.
  • How the principle of Compactness helps your audiencece store your big idea in their memory using a "flag" to leverage common knowledge, amplifying their understanding... using what they already know.
  • Learn the principle of "post-dictability" to give your customers a sensation of satisfaction resulting from that "Aha!" moment your idea causes.
  • liHow knowing already what a grapefruit is can be critical for understanding the whole concept of stickiness.
  • Discover how the "Curse of Knowledge" holds you back from creative breakthroughs, and how you can break this curse resulting in simpler, clearer ideas and communication.

I thoroughly recommend “ Made to Stick” without any reservation. I will be using it for reference on my next product, and have already started to help a client implement stickiness principles for his software application service. Make sure to read the reviews on the Amazon web page as well.