Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Made to Stick" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The authors state in their introduction that this work will cover a lot of the same ground that Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" covered. However, they are also quick to point out that their book is a complementary work; they look at the traits that make ideas work (or not, as the case may be). I would highly recommend both books to anyone that wants to know why things like urban legends won't die, or why they can remember some ads but not others. This book was especially interesting to me as far as my work goes, which I'll get into at the end of this review.

The basic principles of "stickiness" can be summed up in one word: SUCCESS. No, not success literally, of course! The acronym stands for Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories, Sticks. The great thing about the authors is that they actually use their own module; the made the book simple, provided some unexpected yet concrete examples, prove their own credibility, provide emotional reasons to use their ideas, and give lots and lots of stories to prove why some ideas stick and others fail miserably.

There are also more in-depth discussions in each chapter about how to achieve each one of the principles, things like "don't bury the lead", how to appeal to a person, etc. The stories are what really make the book work, which is precisely one of the principles of "stickiness" - facts & figures are nice, but people just don't remember them. Tell a story about someone or something that shows the data at work, and it sticks with people. Easy!

Now why would this book really appeal to a library diva such as myself? Simple. Libraries are one of those things that people know they need, but it's hard to convince others. This book gave me a lot of ideas for promoting our system, my branch in particular, and even on how to approach next year's 2nd grade field trip. Let's take the idea of "concrete". During the field trips this year, one of the concepts that we tried to introduce was that tax money pays for the materials in a library. OK, what 2nd grader is going to understand something as complicated as taxes? My thought exactly. But after reading this book, I think I might have some ways to try to explain it in such a manner that the kids would understand, key word being "might"! But I have at least another 10 months or so to come up with the ideas, enough time to also try this process out on others.

I thought "Made to Stick" was a very interesting, very enlightening read. I would definitely suggest finding a copy for yourself - at your library, of course!

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