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Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Made to Stick Book Cover
Book (with additional video)
Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Recommended by: Jaron Vail, Research Associate - Proprietary School Certification, Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development
Additional Video
Title: Chip Heath - Sticky Ideas, Urban Legends and a Man on the Moon
Date: June 9, 2009

1) What is your suggestion about?

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die explains why some beliefs and ideas, whether true or not, “stick” with us. Whether an idea “sticks” can determine whether an organization succeeds or fails.

With funny anecdotes and dry wit, the authors break down how ideas and storytelling define how we interact with one another. The book explains how we can cut through the noise, falsehoods, and misconceptions to develop memorable and informative ideas that “stick” and help individuals and organizations improve and be more productive. 

2) Why did you choose it?

I am very interested in learning how to develop ideas that will help me and my colleagues grow both professionally and personally. To me, good ideas help society progress and improve our quality of life.

Here is a  video of Chip Heath illustrating the book’s core themes with a description of the power of one great, “sticky” idea – President John F. Kennedy’s idea of going to the moon and back by the end of the 1960s.

3) What else do you want to tell us about it?

This book is a very easy read. The authors break down complex information and research into chapters that read more like outlines on a slide show. The six main chapters follow the acronym “SUCCESs” with each letter describing an element that helps make an idea “sticky”:

  • Simple: communicates to people the core message
  • Unexpected: gets and holds people’s attention through surprise and interest
  • Concrete: makes an idea specific, tangible, and real to help people understand and remember it
  • Credible: helps people believe and agree
  • Emotional: makes people care
  • Stories: shows people how to act and inspire them to act

The book also includes a helpful “Easy Reference Guide” that summarizes each chapter’s main points.

The authors have a good sense of humor. They start Made to Stick with the urban legend of criminals harvesting kidneys and go from there! So it’s a great book to pick up in the summertime or anytime. 

The authors are brothers: Chip is a professor at Stanford Business School, while Dan was an entrepreneur and now a fellow at Duke University’s CASE Center, which supports social entrepreneurs. They have written together three other business bestsellers: Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard (2010), Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work (2013), and The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact (2017).

4) What is a key takeaway for leaders driving improvement in how we deliver for the citizens of Missouri?

Good ideas matter. They help guide us as individuals and team members. They motivate. Good ideas increase quality and efficiency for both leaders and their team members. For leaders in the public sector, high quality ideas can cut across ideological and political divides to get to what really matters: how to better serve our citizens and public stakeholders. 

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