Making ideas stick

Istock 000002844158XsmallMovements are contagious. They have a cause that spreads like a virus.

Here's what Chip and Dan Heath have to say about making ideas stick.

1. Simplicity. To strip an idea down to its core, we must be masters of exclusion. We must relentlessly prioritize. Saying something short is not the mission--sound bites are not the ideal. Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound.

2. Unexpectedness. We need to violate people's expectations. We need to be counterintuitive. We can use surprise--an emotion whose function is to increase alertness and cause focus--to grab people's attention. For our idea to endure, we must generate interest and curiosity.

3. Concreteness. We must explain our ideas in terms of human actions, in terms of sensory information. In proverbs, abstract truths are often encoded in concrete language: 'A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.'

4. Credibility. Sticky ideas have to carry their own credentials. We need ways to help people test our ideas for themselves. Ronald Reagan asked, "Before you vote, ask yourself if you are better off today than you were four years ago."

5. Emotions. How do we get people to care about our ideas? We make them feel something. We are wired to feel things for people, not for abstractions. Sometimes the hard part is finding the right emotion to harness.

6. Stories. How do we get people to act on our ideas? We tell stories. Hearing stories acts as a kind of mental flight simulator, preparing us to respond more quickly and effectively.

Have a read of the Gospels with these six points in mind. I'd give Jesus six out six for making ideas stick.

Thanks to David May for another great summary. Why not get on his mailing list?

"Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" (Chip Heath, Dan Heath)