Making It Stick

Made to Stick - Duct Tape
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I’ve been really struggling with my last post on decision training. Since writing it, I’ve wrestled with my articulation of the ideas and concepts.

Thankfully, I received a lot of good feedback – liking, disliking and otherwise – the post. And, I was able to chat with others as I traveled to get their perspective. (Thanks all for your feedback!)

I managed to carve sometime out for myself yesterday and went to one of my favourite hangouts… the bookstore.

My intention was to grab some books on team builders and ice breakers. (If you have any good ones, do share… I’m still looking.) Instead, I ended up walking by a book that I’ve passed on numerous occasion. It’s called Made To Stick by Chip & Dan Heath. I swore not to pick it up because I probably have a good 50 books on deck at home waiting to be read. Funny enough, it was the duct tape on the front cover that compelled me to grab it. It looked so real.

Now, I’m glad that I did. Here are a few ideas from it that resonated with me…

Be Open To New Ideas

How do we get people to believe in, or at least, be open to shaking around a new idea?

In the book, they talk about drawing on a source of credibility. External credibility (e.g. utilizing respected celebrity endorsement) doesn’t work as often as it’s thought. Similarly, drawing on internal credibility – such as carefully outlining years of personal experience, published statistics, research and detail – still can often be ignored. The most impactful source is an audience’s credibility.

Audience credibility is impactful because it says: “Experience this for yourself. Then, we’re going to draw the lesson out from your own experience.” See it, hear it, feel it, smell it… yourself.

This is why I *love* discovery games so much.

To give you an example, Made To Stick talks about what the NBA and the NFL had done as a part of their rookie orientation programs; which attempt educate rookies about the pitfalls of life in the League. (And, there are many!)

One year, as shared by the authors, the NBA took a new approach to warning guys about the dangers of HIV/AIDS…

The location of the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program is always kept a secret. The players are ‘held’ in seclusion. No cell phones, iPads, wives, family, entourages and so on. Well, this particular year, word leaked out. And, as is often the case, women began to congregate in the hotel bar… scantily clad, looking to draw attention. They got what they were looking for. The players dutifully flirted and made plans to link up with them later in the week.

The next morning, when the players showed up for their morning session at RTP, they were surprised to see those same girls sitting at the front of the room. The women introduced themselves one at a time: “Hi, I’m Sheila and I’m HIV positive.” “Hi, I’m Donna and I’m HIV positive.” Down the line, same thing.

Make An Idea ‘Real’ Before Rational

Bang! They got the player’s attention. The idea was real for them. And because of that, everything that took place in their orientation going forward stuck with the players. They could relate to what was being discussed because they had personally discovered, through their own experience, how one rash decision could quickly change the course of their lives.

Now, compare this approach to what the NFL did.

One year at the NFL rookie orientation, they had the players put a condom on a banana. They then brought some women – former groupies – to talk about how they would seduce and coax players in an effort to get pregnant.

The NFL’s approach was good. They chose to use internal and external credibility to make their point; whereas the NBA used the player’s experience to establish (audience) credibility.

So What’s Most Likely To Stick?

I think this is where I fell short in explaining philosophy on decision training. I used the wrong form of credibility.

In Made To Stick, the authors go on to say: “It’s not always obvious which wellspring of credibility we should draw from … external validation and statistics – aren’t always best. A few vivid details might be more persuasive than a barrage of statistics. An anti-authority might work better than an authority. A single story … might overcome a mountain of skepticism.”

What’s Your Coaching Style?

Think for a moment about which coaching style (or styles) you use. Which have been most effective? Do you ever ask your athletes what resonates with them?

Have you ever witnessed the yeller, screamer, do-it-cuz-I-say-so style? What about the repeater? This is the coach who just keeps echoing the same commands: “Play hard!” “C’mon guys, get tough!”.

What level of style of credibility are they using? Internal, external or audience derived? Is it always the same style or do they vary?

Does it work? Or, is it just a short term thing?

More questions than answers… story of my life.

Either way… coach creatively!