Part One: Introduction
Part Two: Sticky
Part Three: Unexpected
Part Four: Concrete
Part Five: Credible
Part Six: Emotional
Part Seven: Stories
Part Eight: Conclusion
The point: Sticky Ideas surprise and break patterns.
Have you ever watched the NOOMA film called “Luggage” (number 7 on Forgiveness; you can buy all 24 here.) ? It’s one of the memorable films of the 24-part series. It’s a hardcore teaching on forgiveness, but what most people remember is the ending. We follow this woman walking through an airport, obviously wrestling with forgiving someone. At the end of the film, she is driving her car from the toll booth, Rob says, “'Cause you never know when you’ll have another chance,” and as soon as she drives out onto the road, BOOM! Her car is crushed by a flying dump truck, and the film ends.
The shock is always evident the first time you see it, but you never forget it. Why? Chip and Dan Heath say that sticky ideas are unexpected.
If you reflect on moments in your life that you remember, how many of them were unexpected? I remember when I was 9 years old getting a Louisville slugger bat. We would go this open field called the Red Barn because it had…well, a red barn. There was a huge tree line in the back that stretched up to the heavens (at least we thought so because we were 9), and no one had ever hit a home run over the tree line. It basically involved a crushing of almost major league steroid proportions; even high-schoolers would consider it an accomplishment. I am proud to say on my 9th birthday, I became the first person to accomplish such a feat.
I remember that moment not because of the Louisville Slugger, but because of what happened after I hit the ball. I looked down at my bat, and like Roy Hobbs in The Natural, I cracked my bat. I only had one hit with it, and it was the best hit ever seen at the Red Barn. I don’t know if I would have remembered that moment as much if I didn’t crack the bat.
How many of our ideas involve some sort of surprise? How many memories involve something unexpected? How many of those surprises made you want to find an answer or resolve what you just experienced?
I like routine. I like rhythms. When those routines and rhythms are broken, our brains automatically start paying attention more. It’s like a hand on the hot-stove moment. The impulses in our brain shock us, make our hairs stand up, and break us out of our normalcy. The plain fact is breaking patterns gets our attention.
Now, it’s easy to get gimmicky trying to make our ideas surprising. An interest of mine is watching Super Bowl ads. Advertisers seem to get the most creative (probably because they have a lot more money invested with a bigger audience) in helping their products stick during the Super Bowl. I remember an ad a few years back with the “cat herders;” instead of herding cattle or sheep, the wranglers talk about herding kitties. It’s definitely unexpected, but for the life of me I can’t remember what company made the ad.
Contrast that with the Cindy Crawford ad from years ago. Cindy Crawford, a supermodel in her prime, getting a drink as two boys alleged display googly-eyes toward her. They comment on all of the features that seemingly talk about the model, but in the end you realize they were talking about the Pepsi can she was getting from the vending machine. Unexpected, and if you remember last chapter, simple = core. Pepsi used the surprise to enhance their core message. Buy Pepsi, it’s better than models. As much as I have problems with the morals of it, I remember the commercial and the company. Gimmicky surprises don’t reinforce your core message.
The Heaths then sum up these first two chapters in helping ideas stick:
“… a good process for making your ideas stickier is: (1) Identify the central message you need to communicate—find the core; (2) Figure out what is counterintuitive about the message—i.e., What are the unexpected implications of your core message? Why isn’t it already happening naturally? (3) Communicate your message in a way that breaks your audience’s guessing machines along the critical, counterintuitive dimension. Then, once their guessing machines have failed, help them refine their machines.” 
I think one of the problems in teaching is what goals we set. Many times, I have a bunch of information that I want to convey, and try to find creative ways of getting my point across. The Heaths tell us, “We need to shift our thinking from “What information do I need to convey?” to “What questions do I want my audience to ask?” 
I remember a teaching I did a couple of years back about how we are all-together, yet separate. Puzzle pieces are great concrete visuals to communicate this (which is next chapter). I told them how the body of Christ is like a puzzle (which I’m sure many of have used as illustrations…keep doing it!), and asked one question, “What puzzle piece are you?” I had a cute Winnie-the-Pooh puzzle, and I shared how I didn’t want to be Pooh’s face, I wanted to be an edge piece. So I cut Pooh’s face in half.
Putting together a puzzle is fun, but cutting Pooh’s face in half is memorable. Does it help others ask questions? In our youth ministry, we always give space at the end for student’s to ask questions. We have one core message we want to communicate, but we leave space for them to ask questions. What a great habit!
Keep your ideas simple, and surprise them.
Next: Sticky ideas are compact.