What makes Ideas stick ?

Do you remember hearing/reading that most people use only a very small portion of their brains ?
Or the story of a guy who got injected with a syringe in a movie theater and had a sticky on his back that read “Welcome to the world of aids” ? or the fact that Nostradamus had predicted 9/11 ?.

While facts/urban legends like these are as far from truth as possible what’s surprising is the fact that they are unbelievably popular and widespread. This and more is the subject matter of Chip and Dan Heath’s book
aptly titled “Made to Stick“. The book tries to reverse engineer what makes ideas, messages, proverbs and urban legends stick. Stick here means that they tend not only to pass the test of time but the fact that they are viral and transcend borders of languages, regions, religions and more.

According to “Made to stick” for an idea to stick it needs to have the following attributes.
S – Simple, U – Unexpected, C- Concrete, C-Credible, E-Emotional, S-Story –> SUCCES
Simplicity helps in virality because simple things are easy to retain and reproduce/share.
Unexpectedness helps in gaining people’s attention by offering them something that’ll surprise them to pay attention and maybe think.
Concreteness helps in visualizing things which in turn adds life to a thought/idea and fosters retention.
Credibility helps people to trust and believe things. Before sharing something one has to believe it first.
Emotional chord has to be stuck for people to start caring about anything to the extent of sharing it with others or doing something about it.
Stories help open a new & indirect channel to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t have bothered to hear things upfront. Stories can inspire people and help them gain from vicarious experiences.
You can use the SUCCES checklist to evaluate any idea for its stickiness.

There are numerous instances in our daily lives when we come across things which involve making ideas/messages stick. Think ad campaigns, campaigns asking for citizens to maintain cleanliness on roads,
parents telling kids about hazards of smoking, classroom teaching, board meetings and much more. If you think about it, the scope of application for the methods and concepts to make ideas stick is unbelievably large and it has huge potential for optimizing things and solving problems.

As an exercise you can try reverse engineering ideas/messages/ads/urban legends that you remember and see what makes them stick and try using those attributes to make your ideas stick.

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