Book Review: Made to Stick

So, I have fallen a little behind on writing the reviews, but it was for good measure – the most recent two books I read were written by the same authors, and had similar content. They were: Made to Stick, and Switch by Chip & Dan Heath. The second review, Switch will come shortly after this one.

Made to Stick chronicles the phenomenon of why some ideas survive, and other simply fade away and die. The authors open with an introduction to get the reader’s mind ticking: have you ever heard that the Great Wall of China is visible from space? Well it’s not. Have you ever heard we use less than 10% of our brain? Well, we don’t (or brain surgery would be much easier!). They tell you many similar anecdotes to get the reader just as interested in the author with the core thesis: why are these ideas so sticky? Why have they lasted so long, and how can we use those insights to better build on sharing our ideas?

The book then takes the idea of ‘stickiness’ and divides it up very simply into six chapters, the key elements that create sticky ideas, these are:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Stories

Each section contains stories and insight into each functional area, as mastering every area will most likely deem an idea sticky. Additionally, in each chapter they have ‘clinics’. In each clinic, they give the reader a real life situation, a few different solutions, then evaluate the solution against the criteria you have learned thus far in the book. The idea being that users gain understanding of how it actually works in real life – a jump many authors fail to make.

No matter your area of interest, I think this book is a must read. It provides insight into how to make anything into an effective story or pitch. No matter what role you work in, no matter what industry, you have to sell something (be it to your boss, your co-workers, or your customers). This book will help everyone put their pitch into a new structure that will increase its impact and effectiveness.

Some of my favourite takeaways from the book:

  • No plan survives contact with the enemy, ever, so know the intent of the plan, so you and your people can react
  • Gap theory: we need to open knowledge gaps before we can close them by educating customers – show them that they don’t know
  • Putting it in perspective: when Cisco was selling wireless, instead of focusing on cost (an abstract number that is hard to understand) they sold it on break even – if you can increase employee productivity by two minutes a day, you have paid back the cost of wireless. That makes the decision easy.
  • How to make people care: use associations (or avoid them), appealing to self interest, appeal to their self identity
  • Understanding, how do we make people care about our message? Associate them with emotions that already exist (piggybacking)
  • Move from talking about what you do, to why you do it

I would rate this book as one of my top reads in a while (and I will tell you now, it was better than Switch) so go out and get it!

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One thought on “Book Review: Made to Stick

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Switch « blairlivingston

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