Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (Random House, 2008) Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., July 2011
Overview: Making ideas last or, as the authors put it, “stick,” is both simple and compelling. It’s simple if you know six basic principles and compelling if you’re on the other side of someone using these powerful strategies. The authors (brothers and faculty members—one at Duke, the other at Stanford) are no novices to best sellers; just check out their other blockbuster, Switch. The focus of Made to Stick is clearly on influence. While not new, the concept and their explanations of the principles will be new to many readers. They cover six major principles of influence or “stickiness”: 1) Simplicity: The Kiss principle…keep it simple, stupid; 2) Unexpectedness: Shock, surprise, and attention-getting tactics stick in the mind of the audience (however large or small) and are the staple of every good public speaker; 3) Concreteness: Making it real in detail makes it stick; 4) Credibility: Reputation is the key, and getting people to believe in you makes your words stick; 5) Emotional: All decisions ultimately rest on how we feel about something. Deal with emotions or they’ll deal with you; 6) Stories: At our core, we’re tribal folk who rely on stories to understand the world. And when it comes to sticking, the Heaths have created a book that will stick around for many years. An easy mnemonic to remember this process is SUCCESs: Simple-Unexpected-Concrete-Credentialed-Emotional-Story-and “s” just to make the word spell right!