March 13, 2009

Book Review: "Made to Stick" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The book answers one question: What makes an idea stick to our minds? The question is profound because it asks why some ideas are better remembered than others, why some methods of communication are more effective, and why a message should be specifically packaged to achieve the intended impact. The answer involves six principles spelled SUCCES: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, story.

What’s brilliant about “Made to Stick” is: authors Chip and Dan Heath use the answer to the question to make the answer stick to our minds. Not only do they explain how the six principles are used to make an idea stick, they also apply these principles in making their message—the book—be a sticky idea that stays in our consciousness.

The six chapters of “Made to Stick” focus on the six principles of stickiness. Each chapter uses some, if not all, of the SUCCES principles to deliver the chapter’s topic. The language is light and straightforward (because sticky ideas must be simple and memorable, like proverbs). The presentation is captivating, making you pay attention and want more. The numerous references are concrete and credible; in fact we are already familiar with many of them (like Jared, the Subway guy, the Chicken Soup series, and the Mother Theresa Effect). And with one story after another, of how regular people used these principles to make an impact, Chip and Dan Heath seal the imprint of their message in our heads.

I have never read a book that skillfully and successfully applies the principles it is trying to teach, until now. With the additional “Sticky Advice” chapters (for managers and teachers), the Easy Reference Guide, and the hundreds of fascinating reference notes, I can say “Made to Stick” will be stuck to my fingers for a while.