Made to Stick or Made to Move

Christopher Witt —  March 27, 2013

There are over 563,000 copies of Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath in print. For good reason.

The book explains why some ideas survive and others die by identifying six qualities of an idea that is made to stick:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Unexpectedness
  3. Concreteness
  4. Credibility
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

Here are some of the insights (randomly chosen) that I gained from reading Made to Stick:

  • Simplicity is essential, but… “You don’t have to speak in monosyllables to be simple. What we mean by ‘simple’ is finding the core of the idea… To get to the core, we’ve got to weed out superfluous and tangential elements. But that’s the easy part. The hard part is weeding out ideas that may be really important but just aren’t the most important ideas.”
  • When it¬†comes to appealing to people’s self-interests, “it may be the tangibility, rather than the magnitude, of the benefits that makes people care. You don’t have to promise riches and sex appeal and magnetic personality. It may be enough to promise reasonable benefits that people can easily imagine themselves enjoying.” Also, because people are swayed by group interest, not just by self-interest, they ask not “What’s in it for me?” but “What’s in it for my group?”
  • “How can we make people care about our ideas? We get them to take off their Analytical Hats. We create empathy for specific individuals. We show how our ideas are associated with things that people already care about. We appeal to their self-interest, but we also appeal to their identities — not only to the people they are right now but also to the people they would like to be.”

I like the Heaths’ approach, but I think I would change the title from Made to Stick to Made to Move. It’s important to communicate ideas that stick in people’s minds, imaginations, and emotions, but it’s more important to communicate ideas that move people to take action. To be fair, I think that’s what the Heaths ultimately have in mind — transforming not just the way people think, but he way they act.

Have you read Made to Stick? What are your favorite insights? Do you have any quibbles with it?





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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.

One response to Made to Stick or Made to Move

  1. We give all our clients “Made to Stick.” It’s the best no-B.S. book about storytelling I know. The chapter on ‘urban legends’ alone is worth the price. The key take-away for clients is, ‘it doesn’t matter what you want them to know. It only matters what sticks in their minds. Start there, and work backwards to your message.”