Training your spouse like an exotic animal

When I read this fabulous Amy Sutherland piece in the Times last June, my Stickiness Radar started blazing. In fact, I wasn’t even aware that I HAD a Stickiness Radar until that moment. Much less that it could “blaze.” Does a radar “blaze”? Doubtful.

Sutherland discusses how, in the course of studying the methods used to train exotic animals (like elephants and baboons), she had a thought: Hey, I wonder if these methods would work on my husband. This piece is 6 for 6 on the principles of stickiness. After publication, she stayed on the Times Most E-Mailed List for what felt like 2 months. Now, bizarrely, she has re-emerged on the Most E-Mailed List, 7 months after the publication of her piece. That’s damn sticky. And it has given my blog post the veneer of topicality.

The Stickiness Aptitude Test

We worked with Guy Kawasaki (and the folks at Electric Pulp) to create a “Stickiness Aptitude Test.” It’s designed for entrepreneurs who want to assess the stickiness of their message. Check it out!

Also we had an interesting Q&A with him, including some discussion of the stickiness of products. In non-Made To Stick news, there’s a great blow-by-blow analysis of Guy’s LinkedIn page by two LinkedIn insiders. They’re essentially trying to make Guy’s page stickier (though they don’t use that language). Chip and I have been talking a lot lately about how to apply stickiness principles to personal promotion, as in a job interview situation. More to come.

The Great Bathroom Disempowering Project

I was in an airport bathroom recently, and here’s what I saw: A bunch of grown men, standing in front of a row of sinks, who were flapping their arms, contorting their hands, and waggling their fingers. Beseeching the faucet for water. Beseeching the dispenser for a paper towel. Often they succeeded. But at what cost to their vanity?

And it occurred to me, this scene is wrong. Deeply deeply wrong. How did we convince ourselves that simple bathroom controls needed to be yanked back from, and made inaccessible to, human beings? Somewhere, there is an MBA with a diabolical spreadsheet showing that airports would enjoy a NPV of $735 for switching to infrared faucets. That spreadsheet seemed sensible to the airport procurement officers of America. But nowhere on that spreadsheet, of course, appeared the “Liberty Value” of turning on a faucet for oneself and having water pour out, as scheduled.

We have been denied the simple joy of control over a tool. Why do we have to beg the Light for service? What have we reduced ourselves to? Why have we designed machines that make us beg them for service?

Let’s kill this idea. Resolved: People should be given the right to turn on a faucet. People should be trusted to turn on a faucet. How do we make this idea stick? Help me.

Diversity, felt

In Made To Stick, we talk about situations where communicators had to make people experience something, because talking about it was inadequate. We talk about an elementary school teacher who made her students experience prejudice. We talk about how HP got its engineers to experience the value its technology could bring to Disney. We talk about how the NBA made players experience the risk of AIDS.

The WSJ’s Phred Dvorak writes about the innovative training efforts of the French food-services company Sodexho Alliance. The training mission: To inspire respect and appreciation for diversity. Don’t roll your eyes yet. You haven’t heard this one before:

TWO YEARS AGO, Rod Bond, an executive at a U.S. unit of French food-services company Sodexho Alliance SA, accompanied female colleagues to a meeting of the Women’s Food Service Forum, where he was a rare man among roughly 1,500 women.

“That’s a profound experience,” says Mr. Bond, 57 years old. It prompted him to wonder how women managers of his generation had felt when they started their careers amid a sea of men. “I can begin to feel what it must have felt like to be different,” Mr. Bond says. …

Ms. Anand [Sodexho’s Chief Diversity Officer] asked Mr. Bond to sponsor the affinity group for women employees when it formed about four years ago. Mr. Bond, who runs the Sodexho division that serves public schools, says participating in the group helped him appreciate the concerns of women employees. One of the group’s first requests was for a lactation room at headquarters, where new mothers could pump breast milk. “It’s just one of those things I’d never thought about,” says Mr. Bond.

Working with the group also made Mr. Bond more sensitive to women’s feelings, he says. Recently, he found himself annoyed by a TV comedian making jokes about divorce, all at the wife’s expense. Mr. Bond says he has also changed the social activities he plans for his colleagues, arranging excursions such as dinner cruises instead of golf outings, which he thinks appeal primarily to men.

Being the only man in a conference of women. Contributing to the plans for a lactation room. That’s the way you make the value of diversity stick.