Chip, as a professor at Stanford University, spent about ten years asking why bad ideas sometimes win in the social market-place of ideas. How can a false idea replace a true idea? And what made some ideas more viral than others? As an entry point for thesetopics, he delved into the realm of “naturally adherent” ideas, such as urban legends and conspiracy theories. Over the years, he has become uncomfortably familiar with some of the most repulsive and absurd tales in the annals of ideas. He heard them all. Here is a small sampler.
Example The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object that is visible from space. (The wall is very long, but not very wide. Think about it: If the wall were visible, then any state highway would be visible as well, and maybe some Wal-Mart Superstores too.) • You only use 10% of your brain. (If that were true, it would certainly make brain damage much less of a concern.
Studying naturally sticky ideas, both trivial and profound, Chip conducted more than forty experiments with more than 1,700 participants on topics such as: • Why Nostradamus’s prophecies are still read after 400 years • Why the chicken soup stories for the soul are inspiring• Why ineffective folk remedies persist
Chip started a few years ago to teach a course in Stanford called “How to make ideas stick” The course’s mission is to understand what makes ideas stick in the mind and can stay for years.
Chip and Dan were trying to figure out what made them stick. What makes urban legends so compelling? Why do some chemistry classes work better than others? Why do virtually all societies divulge a set of proverbs? Why do some political ideas circulate widely while others fall short.
The “sticker” terminology from one of our favorite authors, Mal-colm Gladwell. In 2000, Gladwell wrote a brilliant book called TheTipping Point in that book he detected the forces that cause social phenomena.
How do we make our ideas clear? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. ”Speaking concretely is the only way to get certain that our idea will mean the same thing to everyone in our audience”
We need to make people test our ideas a phrase that shows this and “Try it before you buy” when we’re trying to create cases we grab concrete numbers but in many cases this way can go wrong let’s see a good case 1980 USA be-between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, Reagan could have quoted a number of statistics demonstrating the slow economy of mine. Instead, he asked a simple question that allowed voters to test themselves: “Before voting, ask yourself if you are better off today than you were four years ago. ”
Most award-winning ads can be classified into six basic categories, or templates. Most of these models will be related to the unexpected principle. An advertisement emphasizes the potency of a car stereo system.
To be successful the first step and be simple not simple in terms of “dumb down” or “catchphrase” we mean with be simple and find the heart of the idea. Finding the core is analogous to writing the Comman—the intention to der is about discarding many great insights to allow the most important insight to shine through. There are two steps to getting your ideas compliant -Step 1 is finding the core and Step 2 is translating the core using the SUCCES Checklist. That’s it. Let’s spend the next half of the chapter on Step 1 and the rest of the book on Step 2.
Reporters are taught to start their stories with the most important important information. The first sentence, called the lead, contains the most essential elements of the story. A good lead can convey a lot of information, as in these two links to articles that have won awards from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. “I’ve always believed that if I have two hours to write a story, the best investment I can make is to spend the first hour and forty-five minutes getting a good lead, because after that everything will come easily.”
Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign was a classic example of sticky ideas, the phrases on the makeshift list being “It’s the economy, stupid.” The word “stupid” was added as a provocation to campaign workers
We know that sentences are better than paragraphs. Two bullets are better than five. Easy words are better than hard words. It’s a bandwidth issue: the more we reduce the amount of warping in an idea, the more sticky it will be. That’s when the Curse of Knowledge kicks in, and we start to forget what it’s like not to know what we know. At which point, making something simple can seem like “dumbing down”. Proverbs are simple but profound. Cervantes defined prov-erbs as “short sentences drawn from long experience”. Take the English-language En-proverb: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” What is the core? The core is a warning against giving up something right for something speculative. The proverb “Do to others what you would like they do to you” is so profound that it can influence a lifetime of behavior. With this we came to the conclusion that our messages must be small because we can only leave small information in the customer’s mind.
Mysteries are powerful, says Cialdini, because they create a need for closure.
In McKee’s opinion, a great script is designed so that each scene is a tipping point. “Each turning point attracts curiosity. The audience wonders, what will happen next? and how will it end? The an-answer to this will not reach the climax of the last act, and so the audience, sustained by curiosity, stands still. ” McKee notes that the How will it be over? question is powerful enough to keep us on our toes when we know better. “Think of all the bad movies you’ve watched just to get the answer to that nagging question. ”
Experiments on human memory have shown that people are better at remembering concrete and easily visible nouns (“bicycle” or “Avocado”) than abstract ones (“justice” or “personality”). Of course, sticky ideas are stuffed with concrete words and im-ages.
You will do two brief fifteen-second exercises. When you have your supplies ready, set the timer for fifteen seconds and then follow the instructions for Step 1 below. canImagine.Stop. Reset the timer to fifteen seconds. Turn page to instructions for Step 2
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random house to new york
MADE TOWARDS Why Some Ideas Survive And Others DieCHIP HEATHEDAN HEATH4 4 4
Copyright © 2007 by Chip Heath and Dan HeathAll rights reserved.Published in the United States by Random House,a trademark of The Random House Publishing Group,a division of Random House, Inc., New York.Random House and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.Cataloging Data in Library of Congress PublicationHeath, Chip.Made to Stay: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die /Chip Heath and Dan Heathp. cm.Includes index.1. Social Psychology. 2. Contagion (social psychology).3. Context effects (psychology).
To Dad, for driving an old tan Chevette while he put us through college. To Mom, for making us breakfast every day for eighteen years. Each.
Kidney theft. Movie popcorn. Fixed = understandable, memorable and effective in changing thinking or behavior. Halloween candy. Six Principles: Success. The villain: Curse of Knowledge. It’s hard to be a rubber tapper. Creativity starts with models.CHAPTER 1SIMPLE25The Commander’s Intent. The low-fare airline. Burying the lead and the inverted pyramid. It’s the economy, stupid. Decision paralysis. Clinic: Sun exposure.Names, names and names. Simple = core + compact. Proverbs. The Palm Pilot Wood Block. Using what’s there. The pomelo scheme. High concept: mandibles without a spaceship. Generative Analogies: Disney “Cast Members”. Successful flight safety announcement. The surprised eyebrow. Surprising award and “post-predictability”. Breaking the guessing machine. “The Nordiequem . . . ” “No class next Thursday.” Clinic: Lots of outside help? Of Saturnorings. Movie plot points. Curiosity Gap Theory. Clinic: Fundraising. Prim-the-gap: NCAA football. Pocket radio. Man on the Moon.
Sour grapes. Landscapes as eco-celebrities. Teaching subtraction with less ab-straction. Accounting for novels. Velcro memory theory. Brown eyes, blue eyes. Engineers vs. Manufacturers. Ferraris go to Disney World. White things. The leather computer. Clinic: Oral rehydration therapy. Hamburger Helper and Saddleback Sam. Nobel Prize-winning scientist that no one believed. Carnivorous Bananas. Authority and anti-authority. Pam Laffin, smoker. Powerful details. Jurors and the Vader Toothbrush Darth. The seventy-three-year-old dancer. Statistics: nuclear warheads like BBs. The principle of the human scale. Office colleagues like football team.Clinic: Shark attack hysteria. The Sinatra Test. Bollywood film shipping. Edible fabric. Where’s the steak? Testable credentials. The Emotional Tank. Clinic: Our intuition fails. NBA Novice Camp. Mother Teresa Principle: If I look at one, I will act. Beat the smoke with the truth. Semantic stretching and why unique is not unique. Recovering “sports-manship. Schlocky ads, but masterful by mail. WIIFY. Cable television in Tempe. Avoiding Maslow’s basement. Dinner in Iraq. The popcorn popper and Political Science. Clinic: Why study algebra? Don’t mess with Texas. piano? Creating empathy.
Day the heart monitor lied. Conversation about purchasing at Xerox. Visu useful and useless updates. Stories like flight simulators. Clinic: Dealing with troubled students. Jared, the 425-pound fast-food diet. Identifying inspirational stories. The Chal-Lenge Plot. The connection graph. The plot of creativity. Trampoline Stories at the World Bank: A Health Worker in Zambia. How to Make Presenters Angry with Stories.EPILOGUE THE STICKER238Nice guys finish last. Elementary my dear watson. The power to detect. Curse of Knowledge again. Pay attention, understand, believe, care, and act. Sticky Problems: Symptoms and Solutions. John F. Kennedy vs. Floyd Lee.
cigarettes and the clerk ironed my shirt! “The value of stories doesn’t come from nothing. objectivity in and of itself. The value comes from the perfect alignment between Nordstrom’s goals and the content of the stories. These stories could easily be destructive in another context. 7-Eleven’s management doesn’t want to face an epidemic of gift-wrapping employees. Nordstrom’s stories are a classic example of power of nonexistence 74 MADE TO STICK
objectivity. There’s no danger that the stories will seem cryptic, either—because surprise is followed by insight—the stories tell us what it means to be a good Nordstrom employee. It’s an unusual sense in serving a central message.Journalism 101Nora Ephron is a screenwriter whose scripts for Silkwood, WhenHarry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle were nominated for Academy Awards. Ephron began his career as a journalist for the New York Post and Esquire. She became a journalist because of her high school journalism teacher. Ephron still remembers the first day of his journalism class. Al-though the students had no journalism experience, they entered their first class with a sense of what a journalist does: a journalist gets facts and reports them. To get the facts, you track the fiveWs—who, what, where, when, and why. As the students sat in front of their manual typewriters, Ephron’s teacher announced the first assignment. They would write the lead of a newspaper story. The teacher recited the facts: “Kenneth L. Pe-ters, the principal of Beverly Hills High School, today announced that the entire high school faculty will travel to Sacramento next Thursday for a colloquium on new teaching methods. Speakers will include anthropologist Margaret Mead, president of the faculty, Dr. Robert May-nard Hutchins, and California Governor Edmund ‘Pat’ Brown. “The beginning journalists sat at their typewriters and shared the first leadership of their careers. According to Ephron, she and most of the other students produced clues that reordered the facts and grouped them into a single sentence: “Governor Pat Brown, MargaretMead and Robert Maynard Hutchins will speak at Beverly Hills High School Teachers Thursday in Sacramento. . . blah blah blah.” The professor gathered up the clues and scanned them quickly. Then he set them aside and paused for a moment.
Men don’t walk on the moon. It’s a long way to go. The air is thin. Both create a vision. Rather than taking us along an arduous route from one incremental step to the next, ideas suddenly give us a dramatic glimpse of how the world might unfold. And not just how but why. Both create knowledge gaps. Loewenstein, the author of the gap theory, says it’s important to remember that knowledge gaps are painful. “If people like curiosity, why work to solve it?” he asks. “Why don’t they put out mystery novels before the last chapter or turn off the television before the final entry of a closed-game ball?” These two unexpected ideas create huge gaps in knowledge, but not so big that it seems insurmountable. Kennedy didn’t propose a “man on Mercury “, and Ibuka did not propose an “implantable radio.” Each goal was audacious and provocative, but not paralyzing. Any engineer who has heard the “man on the moon” speech must have had
started brainstorming immediately: “Well, first we need to solve this problem, then we need to develop this technology, then . . . “The vision of a portable radio has sustained a company through a complicated period of growth and led it to become an internationally recognized actor nized in technology. The vision of a man on the moon has contained tens of thousands of separate individuals, in dozens of organizations, for nearly a decade. These are big, powerful, sticky ideas. When we’re skeptical about our ability to get people’s attention, or our ability to keep people’s attention, we should be inspired by Kennedy and Ibuka. And, on a smaller scale, from Nora Ephron, journalism professor and managers at Nordstrom. Unexpected, in service of fundamental principles, can have surprising longevity.
one hot summer day, a fox was walking through an orchard. I raised a bunch of grapes ripening high on a vine. “Just something to quench my thirst,” he said. Taking a few steps back, he ran and jumped on the grapes, narrowly missing. Spinning around again, he ran faster and jumped again. Still a miss. Again and again he jumped, until he finally gave up with exhaustion. Turning away with his nose in the air, he said, “I’m sure they’re sour.” It’s easy to overlook what you can’t get. The fable above, “The Fox and the Grapes “, was written by Aesop. According to Herodotus, he was a slave (although they were later freed). Aesop wrote some of the stickiest stories of history in the world. We’ve all heard his greatest hits: “The Tortoise and theLebre”,“ The boy who screamed wolf”,“ The goose that laid the Golden Eggs”,“The wolf in sheep’s clothing”and many more. If any story told in this book is still circulating a few millennia from now, chances are it will be “The Fox and the Grapes.” Even English speakers who have never heard “The Fox and the Grapes” will recognize the phrase “sour grapes”, which encapsulates.
The moral of the story. Aesop’s lesson traveled the world. In Hun-Gary, people say savanyu a szolo – “green grapes” in Hungarian. Inside China, they say, “Grapes go sour because you can’t reach them.” In Sweden, some local color has been added; the Swedish expression Surtsa räven om rönnbären means ” Sour , said the fox, about the rowan berry. “Clearly, Aesop was illustrating a universal human deficiency. human nature. But there are many profound truths that have not penetrated the everyday language and thought of dozens of cultures. This truth is especially sticky because of the way it was encoded. The concrete images evoked by the fable – the grapes, the fox, the contemptuous comment about the sorrel – allowed his message to persist. It is suspected that the lifetimes of Aesop’s ideas would have been shorter if they had been coded as Helpful Aesop’s Suggestions – “Don’t be a bitter idiot when you’ve failed.” of many more fables. On the web, a satirical site features a “Business Keyword Generator”. Readers can produce their own business buzzwords by combining a three-column word, which produces phrases such as “reciprocal cost based on re-engineering”, “customer-oriented visionary paradigm” and “strategic logistical values.” (All this sounds strangely plausible as buzzwords, by the way.) Teachers have their own keywords: metacognitive skills, intrinsic motivation, portfolio assessment, appropriate development, subject learning. And if you’ve talked to a doctor, we don’t even have to provide examples. Medicine’s favorite: “idiopathic cardiomyopathy.” “Cardiomyopathy” means something is wrong with your heart, and “idiopathic” means “we have no idea why yours isn’t working.” Language is usually abstract, but life isn’t abstract. Teachers teach students about battles, animals and books.
lems with our stomachs, backs and hearts. Companies create soft-buy, build planes, distribute newspapers; they build cars that are cheaper, faster or more sophisticated than last year. Even the most abstract business strategy of ness must eventually show up in the tangible actions of human beings. These tangible actions are easier to understand than to understand an abstract strategy statement—just as it is easier to understand a fox threshing some grapes than an abstract commentary on the human psyche. Abstraction makes it harder to understand an idea and remember it. It also makes it more difficult to coordinate our activities with other people, who can interpret the abstraction in very different ways. Concrete-ness helps us avoid these problems. This is perhaps the most important great lesson Aesop can teach us.Conserving NatureFor fifty years, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has helped protect the world’s environmentally precious areas using the simplest possibilities. Method ble: It buys them. It buys land at market prices, removing limits for environmentally harmful uses such as development or logging. This strategy came to be known at TNC as “money and acres. ” It appealed to donors and benefactors because the re-results of their gifts were so clear. A big gift bought a big piece of land. A small gift bought a small piece of land. As one donor commented, TNC produced “results you could walk through.” In 2002, Mike Sweeney, COO of TNC California, faced a major challenge. California is particularly important to TNC because it contains many environmentally critical areas. California is one of only five Mediterranean climate regions in the world. (The others are the fynbos of South Africa, the scrubland of Chile, the kwongan of Australia, and of course the Mediterranean.) These Mediterranean climate zones occupy only 2 percent of the world’s land mass, but they host.
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