Review: Made to Stick – Chip and Dan Heath

How do ideas stick in our minds? What is it about those ideas that makes them so hard to shake? In Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip and Dan Heath answer these questions and more in a way that’s entertaining and easy to understand.

In the introduction the Heath brothers lay out the keys to making ideas stick. Ideas need to be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and contain a story. Each chapter that follows focuses on one of those topics.

One central idea to the book is the curse of knowledge. How do experts communicate with non-experts? In other words, how does our knowledge blind us to the perspective of a novice? The more familiar a person is with a topic or an area of study, the easier it is for them to talk abstractly and assume their message comes across. Meeting your audience in the middle ground is not the same as dumbing down your message.

Made to Stick is full of bite-sized chunks of research and anecdotes from classes and workshops the two authors have taught. This is a must read for anyone in a leadership or managerial role and especially those who depend on communicating a message.

Over the next few days I plan to take what I learned from Made to Stick and apply it to libraries. How can libraries communicate better? Why don’t faculty understand our importance? What is our role? These are questions libraries agonize over, because we assume the answer is obvious.

Made to Stick was published in 2007 by Random House and is available through Amazon.

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