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Making your ideas “sticky”. Paul Sewell NATO School Jan 17, 2013. Ever been inspired??. Knowledge is the ammunition we use every day. We are all knowledge workers. Raw data information knowledge. knowledge. We are all knowledge workers.

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making your ideas sticky
Making your ideas “sticky”
  • Paul SewellNATO School Jan 17, 2013
we are all knowledge workers
We are all knowledge workers

Raw datainformationknowledge


we are all knowledge workers1
We are all knowledge workers

We are more effective when we can communicate our ‘message’ clearly and with impact

We each have

a core message

  • Background of the “Made To Stick” (MTS) model
  • Explain each of the model’s 6 principles
  • Apply them to your final project and beyond
made to stick principles
Made To Stick principles


  • S
  • U
  • C
  • C
  • E
  • S





= more sticky


the curse of knowledge
The Curse of knowledge!!
  • Use of jargon and special terminology
  • Too abstract
  • Unable to see beyond our own knowledge

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

s simple
S - Simple
  • Essential first step
  • What is your core message?
  • How can you communicate this?
nedp final project checklist
NEDP final project checklist
  • What is the core of your project? Do you have one main message or many?
  • Do you have a catchphrase or soundbite you can use?
  • Is your main message clear or is it buried in the text?






typical attention grabbers
Typical attention grabbers
  • Call us NOW to find out how you can make $50,000 a month at home
  • Coming right up...the facts about real estate your bank doesn’t want you to know
  • Find out what you’re feeding your children thatis slowly poisoning them
surprise grabs their attention
Surprise grabs their attention
  • Humour
  • Violate people’s expectations
  • Only temporary
interest holds their attention
Interest holds their attention
  • Unravel the story using mystery & suspense
  • Draws upon their curiousity
u unexpected
U - Unexpected
  • Create gaps in people’s knowledge
  • Ask questions to evoke curiosity
  • Unravel the story
nedp final project checklist1
NEDP final project checklist
  • What questions can you pose that will keep the audience engaged?
  • What pre-conceived ideas about your topic can you break?
  • Can you unravel your presentation in a way that keeps them engaged?


Abstraction makes it harder to understand an idea and remember it.

Beware the

Curse of Knowledge.

c concrete
C - Concrete

«Let’s work towards maximising our productivity by increasing efficiency across many departments»

Kill two birds with one stone

How can you take your topic area from the abstract to the concrete?

c concrete1
C - Concrete
  • Use concrete terms
  • Give real examples
  • Keep it culturally neutral

The tough general test

nedp final project checklist2
NEDP final project checklist
  • Can you use a real-world example to explain the importance of your data?
  • Can you use a metaphor to simplify the concepts?
  • What’s the common ground between your research and the audience?
  • Are there any areas in your work that suffer from the curse of knowledge?
c credibility
C - Credibility
  • Who is more credible?
    • 3 star General or a Private?
  • Consider the context
  • What credibility do you have?
c credibility1
C - Credibility
  • Use your own expertise and credibility
  • Use statistics & numbers but they must have context and meaning
  • Importance of Leadership championing an idea

Why Lessons Learned?

”There is no reason to send troops into the fight and get them killed when a lesson learned the month before could have been used for training.

We’re in the kind of war where an untrained man is a bigger threat to his shipmates than he is to the enemy.”

General Mattis

Former Supreme Allied Commander (Transformation)

Jan 2009


nedp final project checklist3
NEDP final project checklist
  • What sources of credibility can you use to highlight the importance of your project and/or solution?
  • What sources of credibility do you as a team have for this project?
  • Is there credibility in your data?
e emotions
E - Emotions
  • People care about people, not numbers
  • WIIFY?
  • We must make people feel something
  • Put your information in human terms
nedp final project checklist4
NEDP final project checklist
  • How can you make people care about your project?
  • How can you inspire your audience to take action?
  • What element of the NATO identity in the audience can you appeal to?


Stories are told and retold because they contain wisdom.

Sources of Power - Gary Klein

s story
S - Story




Religious texts


  • Stories are everywhere
  • Story vs. SOP?
  • What stories can you tell about you/your area of knowledge?
3 key plots
3 key plots
  • Challenge (to overcome obstacles)
  • Connection (to get along or reconnect)
  • Creativity (to inspire a new way of thinking)
nedp final project checklist5
NEDP final project checklist
  • What stories can you tell in your presentation?
  • Can you use a story or vignette to explain any of the concepts?
  • Can your presentation link up with any other larger NATO stories?
quick test
Quick Test


  • S
  • U
  • C
  • C
  • E
  • S





= more sticky


succes helps people
SUCCES helps people:

See the key message


  • S
  • U
  • C
  • C
  • E
  • S


Pay attention


Understand, remember


Believe & agree





value of the mts model
Value of the MTS model
  • Limitless application
    • Consider each of your roles and their influence
  • Applying the principles
    • Visible everywhere
    • Start slow
    • Start with one principle and expand