Approaches to Writing Business Books: Presenting the New Idea

In a nutshell: The author offers a new way of thinking or doing something; a new model or mode.

In the Presenting the New Idea business book, the new idea is usually broken down into several parts, each of which is explored in a single chapter. While each of the parts stands on its own, together they create a unified new approach. Unlike We’ve Got Trouble and Debunking the Paradigm, this approach focuses on improving the status quo.

The first chapter (or introduction) lays out a problem or situation and offers a new solution. Then, each of the many chapters that follow discusses one aspect of the new solution. Everything is neatly summed up in a final chapter or epilogue.

You can see this approach clearly in the New York Times bestselling Made to Stick: Made to StickWhy Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath & Dan Heath.[1]

The authors present their argument in the Introduction, asserting that the reader can “transform the way people think and act” and get them to buy more products by communicating via “sticky” ideas. The authors then present the six principles of “stickiness:” simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories.

These two authors also used the Presenting the New Idea approach in their Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.[2] However, their examination of each principle is spread over a couple of chapters, rather than confined to a single chapter.

In the first chapter, “Three Surprises about Change,” the brothers Heath argue that successful change requires that a leader do three things: change the situation rather than the people; understand that people resist change because they are emotionally exhausted and need fresh motivation; and recognize that people must be offered “crystal-clear direction,” since what appears to be resistance to change is often a lack of clarity.

When reading a book that uses the Presenting the New Idea approach, readers should get the feeling they are having an interesting chat with a friend who’s telling them about a wonderful new discovery or idea. The sky isn’t falling and paradigms aren’t being ripped apart. Instead, the readers are having a very pleasant learning experience.

In a sense, Presenting the New Idea is the flip side of We’ve Got Trouble; the emphasis is on the solution rather than the problem.

Continue reading entries in the “Approaches to Writing Business Books” blog series.

[1] Random House, 2007.

[2] Broadway Books,2010.