My Bookshelf: Switch and Made to Stick (and Decisive!)

These two books by the Heath Brothers are essential reading for the social justice communicator, and I can barely contain my excitement at the announcement that these two pros have another book coming out. But let me start with the my two favorites.

Made to Stick cover Made to Stick is an easy, enjoyable read about what makes some stories “sticky” — memorable and ultimately effective in shaping behavior. As social justice activists, we assume that any idea that is reasonable can win people over, but ultimately, new ideas need to be “sticky” for people to be able to see them as relevant and understandable before they ultimately adopt them.

The book shares great examples of what makes a good idea “stick” that is based on six simple principles, all presented with a great understanding of human nature. Take their “SUCCESS” chart and put it up on your wall: it’s a great framework for evaluating your messages. Remember: it’s not enough to be right, we have to also be compelling and memorable.


The brothers followed it up with Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard in 2010 — also packed with great thinking and stories. Their four-step process to facilitate change is useful and easy to comprehend — although not as easy to implement (after all, if the changes were easy, they probably would’ve happened on their own already!). It’s a relevant and insightful framework. It reflects my own experiences with facilitating change, but it also has edged me to think more concretely about how I approach creating change.  Years after first reading it, I’m still working on how to apply the framework to my own work with organizations and social justice leaders.

But don’t just read the books: join the cult of the Heath Brothers on their website, where you can also avail yourself to their prodigious resources section. Catchy audio clips, concise charts to put on your wall, and situational applications of their frameworks (I’ve recommended “Presentations that Stick” to several clients.) You have to submit an email address to get into the members section, but it’s painless and worth it.


We’ll have to wait a couple more weeks for Decisive, their new book. They’ve posted the first chapter, and I was sold on this book by page 10 as they started on the first of the “four villains of decision-making.” They may be covering some of the ground that Malcolm Gladwell did in Blink, but what the heck? I loved that book too.

I’ve written about books for communicators before on the blog I did at MRG, and I’ll keep posting to the bookshelf here as well. One thing about being a communicator is that we have to keep learning.

Feel free to suggest books or comment on the ones I recommend. Happy reading and/or listening!

My Latest Tweets