Ideas that Stick – Part 2

So a “sticky” idea is simple, that is both stripped to its core essence and yet profound.  In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath share further principles that can bridge the gap from the business world to homiletics.  How can we craft main ideas that will stick?

Principle 2 – Unexpectedness.  Surprise increases alertness and focus, it grabs attention.  Consequently, when an idea can incorporate an element of unpredictability, it can generate both interest and curiosity.  This is not to suggest that an idea needs a gimmicky element.  The profound nature of a proverb resists the tacky nature of a gimmick.

Principle 3 – Concreteness. The authors again draw on the concept of a proverb (in their case, they are using proverbs such as “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” rather than Solomonic statements).  Concreteness suggests that profound truth be communicated in terms of human actions, sensory information, concrete language.  In our circles we might refer to communicating as low on the ladder of abstraction as possible.  After all, life is not abstract, so relevant truth need not be presented only in the abstract.  Some might take this to mean putting the cookies on the lower shelf, but that may miss the point and merely dumb down an idea.  It’s more about presenting an idea concretely – cookies and shelves, rather than taking a feast of biblical truth and turning it into a quick sugary snack.

In part 3 we will finish the list.

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