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Want Sticky Ideas?  Use SUCCES

02/14/2020 12:19:53 PM

Feb14

This past week in Lunch and Learn we discussed the idea of what makes some stories resonate and stay with us and others fade away.  Chip and Dan Heath wrote a book called “Made to Stick”.  In it they outline six factors that make ideas and what we are told, whether true or not, stick with us long after their telling.  The conversation came out of another Lunch and Learn where we were discussing the fact that people no longer accept homemade candies or apples at Halloween from strangers.  I cited research that strangers randomly poisoning people at Halloween had been mostly debunked. 

This is from Wikipedia: “Joel Best - sociologist, University of Delaware, specializes in the scholarly study of candy-tampering legends. He collected newspaper reports from 1958 to 1983 in search of evidence of candy tampering. Fewer than 90 instances might have qualified as actual candy tampering. In none of the cases does he attribute the events to "random attempts to harm children" at the Halloween holiday. Instead, most cases were attempts by adults to gain financial compensation or, far more commonly, by children to get attention.

However, even though candy tempering has only happened 90 times over the course of 25 years, starting in the 70’s people were no longer accepting homemade treats at Halloween.  This all led to this week’s lunch and learn: What makes some stories stick and others not?

Once a story sticks the idea of whether it is true is irrelevant.  Think George Washington and the cherry tree, or Abraham Lincoln and the penny he ran to return to a customer.  Were these stories true?  It does not really matter to the listener because the stories have achieved the ability to stick with them.  Our culture is rampant with this and we must learn how to see through it. 

 What matters in terms of impact, is if the story meets certain criteria.  For us to be discerning consumers of content, I believe it is important to understand how things work.  Understanding how they work does not lead to acceptance or rejection, but often to a deeper understanding and appreciation about the subject at hand.

As you read the excerpt from the article below which outline the six principles to make ideas stick, think about the best content communicators in the world and in history.  Think of the people who say things that have the greatest impact on the most people, and you will see their strategy is to employ these six principles.

What follows is James Ye’s article “The 6 Principles to Make Your Ideas Stick” which covers the six principles:

Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? One of the most interesting books I read this year is Chip and Dan Heath’s “Made To Stick” — a fast-paced tour of idea success stories. As many of us struggle with how to communicate ideas effectively and how to get our ideas to make a difference, I want to share the principles of successful ideas at work that I got from reading this book.

Chip and Dan Heath offer us 6 qualities that make ideas sticky, all wrapped up in a clever acronym: Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Stories (SUCCES).

Simple: Simplicity is achieved when an idea is stripped down to its core, to the most essential elements that make it work. Simple does not have to mean short (but it helps); what is important is that the single most important thing be highlighted.

Unexpected: The best ideas represent a break from the everyday, the ordinary, the status quo. Once our attention is grabbed, sticky ideas refuse to let go, holding our interest by creating in us a need to discover the outcome, to see how things work.

Concrete: We must present our ideas in term of sensory information. This is where most of the business communication goes awry. Speaking concretely is the only way to ensure that our idea means the same thing to everyone in the audience.

Credible: Sticky ideas give us a reason to believe they’re true (even when they’re not). Statistics are useful, though they suffer from a lack of concreteness. Another source of credibility is personal experience. Ideas that can be put to question are more reliable.

Emotions: Give your audience a reason to care about your idea. Sticky ideas resonate with us on a level below our immediate consciousness. Sticky ideas appeal to our wishes, desires, and hopes, and interlock with our image of ourselves. We are wired to feel things for people not for abstractions.

Stories: Stories foster our imagination to widen our horizon of dwelling into different thoughts and feelings. Besides satisfying a number of the other principles of stickiness — offering surprises, concrete details, and emotional resonance — stories act as simulation chambers, allowing us to come to their morals on our own terms.

Our leaders, our great storytellers, our elected officials, have all mastered putting these six tools to work. Using these tools is the way our culture works because they leverage the way our minds work.  Throughout history people have employed these strategies to entertain, sway and influence people. In studying these principles, it is my hope that it is much like learning how a magician does a trick after it is completed.  On the one hand it could ruin the trick, but on the other, it could lead to a deeper appreciation of the craft.  Understanding leads to recognizing, and recognizing leads to thinking, and thinking to informed, rational decision making, which is where we all should want to be.

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