‘We began to see the same themes, the same attributes, reflected in a wide range of successful ideas. What we found based on Chip’s research – and by reviewing the research of dozens of folklorists, psychologists, educational researchers, political scientists, and proverb-hunters – was that sticky ideas shared certain key traits. There is no “formula” for a sticky idea – we don’t want to overstate the case. But sticky ideas do draw from a common set of traits, which make them more likely to succeed.
It’s like discussing the attributes of a great basketball player. You can be pretty sure that any great player has some subset of traits like height, speed, agility, power, and court sense. But you don’t need all these traits in order to be great: Some great guards are five feet ten and scrawny. And having all the traits doesn’t guarantee greatness: No doubt there are plenty of slow, clumsy seven-footers. It’s clear, though, that if you’re on the neighbourhood court, choosing your team from among strangers, you should probably take a gamble on the seven-foot dude.
Ideas work in much the same way. One skill we can learn is the ability to spot ideas that have “natural talent”, like the seven-foot stranger. ‘
Chip and Dan Heath, Made to Stick
Most of the books I recommend here are ones I read years ago and have stayed with me; this one I haven’t even finished reading yet but I’ve just got to share it. (I did read and like another of their books – Switch – some time ago, so I’m fairly confident this one will stand the test of time as well.)
The book is about how to make your ideas stick – how to make them resonate with others and be memorable, so that whatever it is you’re trying to get across actually gets to and stays with other people. I thought this would be a bit marketing-y but actually it’s something we all want to do much of the time, perhaps especially with our children. If you believe in something – whether it’s a core value like kindness or responsibility, or more prosaically that your kids should understand the structure of an atom or the lead up to WW2 – you probably want to share that message, have it be convincing, and have it be remembered. This book will show you how.