In the May/June 2008 issue of Holistic Management International’s In Practice, there was an article by Don Schrieber. He told his story of trying to protect his family’s ranch from gas development surface damage and how a book changed his method of defending his property. The book, Made To Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath explains why some ideas thrive and others die. The book transformed the way Don Schrieiber was trying to communicate his family’s message of caring for a piece of land. So just what did the book say about the reasons why some ideas are communicated and thrive and others die? The book is full of fascinating behavioral tests that are revealing as to why some communication works, and most doesn’t, how intellectual exercise impedes the brain’s capacity to be open to “feelings,” and how “feelings” are critical to get someone to care. In the IP article, Don says, “Care is a critical part of the three-legged stool of belief and action – people need to believe, then care, then act.
The Six Principles of Stickiness from the book are:
Principle 1: Simplicity
Create ideas that are simple and profound. The Golden Rule is the ultimate model of simplicity: A one sentence statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning it.
Principle 2: Unexpectedness
For your idea to endure, you must generate interest and curiosity. For example: A bag of popcorn is as unhealthy as a whole day’s worth of fatty foods!
Principle 3: Concreteness
Naturally sticky ideas are full of concrete images because our brains are wired to remember concrete data. Example: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
Principle 4: Credibility
To make people believe your ideas, people must have ways to test your ideas for themselves – a “try before you buy” philosophy for the world of ideas.
Principle 5: Emotions
To get people to care about your ideas, you need to make them feel something. We are wired to feel things for people, not abstractions.
Principle 6: Stories
Whether you’re head of a company, a mom, a dad, or an Holistic Management Certified Educator, you have ideas that you need to communicate. And Don Schreiber really wanted to communicate that his passionate desire to save his ranch was for his grandkids. Earlier he always got caught up in lecturing the companies about environmental responsibility and stewardship. He gave them many salient facts from the 100+ page notebook he had compiled over the years. So at this meeting, with the knowledge gained from Made to Stick, Don’s wife, Jane, baked a cake decorated with the oil company logo in icing in one corner, their ranch logo on the opposite corner, and the letters “O-S-P-P” in the middle for “Open Space Pilot Project” which was their name for the idea that both the oil company and their ranch could have their cake and eat it too. Don went on with a very simple presentation of the history of their relationship with the oil company over the years that had never been satisfactory for either and concluded by posting large photos of each of his kids with a brief description of what each did for the ranch. He duct taped them into a line up on the wall, and said, “When you say ‘no,’ as you have done in the past, this is who you are saying ‘no’ to. Jane and I won’t be here that long. These kids, and their families, will be living with the surface destruction you cause.”
Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Stories. A cooperative resolution with a goal of preserving open space was agreed upon that day. Then they all sat down and had a piece of cake.