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“Made to Stick” Chapter One, Simple

In the book, “Made to Stick- Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die”, Chip and Dan Heath discuss the idea of “simple”. Simple does not mean to dumb it down. They begin with discussing how military missions need to be very goal oriented not procedure orientated  The military can not plan for every scenario that will happen with the enemy. They must get their goal stripped down to the core.  “if we do nothing else during tomorrow’s mission, we must ________.” “The single, most important thing we must do tomorrow is _____. This way on the battle field the officers can make split decisions without wondering if it is what they should be doing. Therefore “simple” means “finding the core of the ideas.”

“Finding the core” can be tricking. You must get rid of superflous information, but keep to the most important goals. The example they use in the book is Southwest Airlines. Their goal is to be “THE lowfare” airline. Every decision they make must adhere to the goal of staying “THE lowfare airline” When they want to change anything they ask if the change would make them “THE lowfare airline.” Southwest has done this for 30 years and been successful at it and it is known as a great place to work. That is their core.

“Step 1 is to find the core, and Step 2 is to translate the core using the SUCCESs Checklist. That’s it. . . So simple means the “Inverted Pyramid” described as the most important info is the widest part of the pyramid at the top. This started during the Civil War when reports used telegraphs to transmit stories. The reporters knew that they could be cut off an any moment  “so they had to send the most important information first.” If as a reporter you get to detailed and convoluted it is called “burying the lead”. Readers will not want to spend even minutes searching for  what is most important.

I love the explanation is SIMPLE = Core + Compact. Proverbs are a great example of this,  Core and Compact. “When you say three things, you say nothing” was a famous line from the Clinton Campaign. They really wanted Bill Clinton to concentrate on the economy. The authors also want you to use what’s there. If you need to explain what a pomelo is, you might want to start with a grapefruit.  People have neer heard of pomelo but most have heard of a grapefruit.

They end this chapter with reminding you that “finding the core” is worth the hard work.

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