Succes. No, that’s not a typo. Succes, or SUCCES, is the acronym used by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, the latter a Duke University professor and the former a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, in their bestselling book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2007). For two years, Made to Stick was on the bestseller list for BusinessWeek which makes it not very surprising if you have heard of this great book by now.
What does SUCCES stand for? It stands for six principles or traits that the Heath brothers have identified as essential to making an idea “stick.”
Sticky ideas have these traits – sticky ideas are remembered, easily understood, and they also change something. The recommendation is, that by using these six traits, or most of them at least, when communicating ideas and strategies, one can make those ideas “stick.”
Simple – Strip the idea to its core
Unexpected – Getting attention and keeping it
Concrete – Easy to accept
Credible – Creating credibility without having authority
Emotional – Making people care
Stories – Telling it like a story
Dan and Chip Heath use a combination of funny, fictional stories/urban legends and case studies, some of which cover memorable events, figures and companies in recent history. Through this, they show how certain principles were employed in their respective moment and how the reader can do something similar.
One of the many tips and tricks that the authors provide is the idea of using people’s own memories to pitch ideas. These “memory schemas” could be used by Hollywood movie producers, for example, when they pitch ideas by putting the new idea in perspective with a hit movie that already came out. When pitching the idea for the 1979 sci-fi thriller, Alien, a producer could say “Alien will be Jaws on a spaceship,” which came out 4 years prior to Alien.
A big takeaway from this book is that a person who is sharing an idea, be it a CEO, manager, or politician, has to consider that they already possess knowledge that their audience does not. The audience is unable to frame the issue in the same way that the idea sharer can. In all, this is where making ideas sticky comes into play.