Multiplication Center

Plagued with the Curse of Knowledge

December 17, 2007

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

It was about a year ago that I first picked up the book, Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and it stays at the top of the list of books I’ve read, not only in 2007, but in any recent year.

It is a business book, but has so much to say that is applicable to any organization in the business of communicating.

I  think this might be my favorite quote:

“This is the Curse of Knowledge: Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind.” (page 20)

Wow–this is useful.

  • The curse of knowledge makes many Sunday morning sermons irrelevant to the listener.
  • The curse of knowledge makes the church bulletin unhelpful to the newcomer. In fact, the curse of knowledge is the reason we call it a “bulletin” instead of a program guide.
  • The curse of knowledge keeps churches from hanging signs that will actually get someone to the bathroom.
  • The curse of knowledge assumes that people today will love the songs you grew up with.
  • The curse of knowledge puts blinders on your eyes when trying to communicate something that seems so simple to you.
  • The curse of knowledge causes you to be task driven and look past the people around you.

Tim Stevens

Recent Articles