Making Ideas Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Some Ideas Die

I was reading an essay titled “Innovative Minds Don’t Think Alike” in the NY Times recently. The essay went on to describe the Curse of Knowledge – and how this curse impacts innovation and stifles new ideas. The author described the curse as the reason why managers sometimes have trouble convincing others to adopt new programs and why engineers design products that are ultimately only useful to other engineers.

There is a way to exorcise this curse. The essay mentioned a book called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Some Die written by brothers Chip and Dan Heath. Chip is a professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Dan is a consultant for the Aspen Institute. In their book, the brothers take apart sticky ideas (natural ideas, urban myths, proverbs, rumors and other ideas) and figure out what why some ideas are more memorable and why others die.

Based on their research, they identified six principles of successful ideas. The six principles can be summarized in a checklist for creating a successful idea: Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Story which form the acronym SUCCES:

  • S – Simplicity (the message must be both simple and profound)
  • U -Unexpectedness (the message must generate interest and curiousity)
  • C – Concreteness (the message must be clear)
  • C – Credibility (help people test ideas for themselves)
  • E – Emotions (make people feel something)
  • S – Stories (stories act as mental flight simulator)

The book also mentions that not every idea is ’stick-worthy’. In fact, the range of stick-worthy ideas for most people ranges from one per week to one per month. They also point out that creating sticky ideas is something that can be learned.

What’s the take-away? “A little focused effort can make almost any idea stickier, and a sticky idea is an idea that is more likely to make a difference.” Using these six simple steps, we can take our ideas and transform into ’sticky’ and powerful ideas.

To learn more about making ideas stick, here are several link to follow:


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