The one-sentence summary

To hatch a decent creative idea you need to have high quality stimulus, protect and nurture young ideas, and use unreasonable urgency to move rapidly to a prototype that will evoke a reaction.


  • You can start a creative revolution at work by thinking and behaving differently. The secret lies in simple, practical learning about how creativity works.
  • The authors set up arguably the first innovation company in the UK called What If? The book outlines their philosophy and explains a process, and related workshops and exercises that allow you to follow their approach.
  • It is something of a call to arms – encouraging companies to manage the human mind more effectively, to add value and uniqueness to what they do, and to liberate creativity and innovation.


  • You can easily follow the techniques for being more creative. They are:

1. Freshness: the quality of the initial stimulus has a direct bearing on how good the final ideas are. (River jumping exercises here include re-expression, looking at related worlds, revolution via challenging assumptions, and making random links)*

2. Greenhousing: young ideas need protection when they are at their most vulnerable. (SUN = Suspend judgement + Understand + Nurture, RAIN = React + Assume + Insist – this will kill most ideas immediately)

3. Realness: once you stop talking and start doing you can make real progress. (Bring the idea to life very early rather than keep talking about it)

4. Momentum: you need to dismantle barriers and generate ‘unreasonable urgency’. (Seek alignment, create crisis, say no to distractions)

5. Signalling: an enabling characteristic that strengthens and sustains ideas. (Navigate between the analytical and creative world, Tune in + Choose to act + Propose a response)

6. Courage: overcoming mediocrity and being brave. (Show your struggle, stretch your comfort zone, get convicted)


  • It’s a book but it’s also very much a brochure for the company.
  • The title of the original book was What If?, which seems more relevant than Sticky Wisdom (this barely gets a mention in the body of the book)

*Many of these exercises are similar to those in other books, such as Adam Morgan’s Eating the Big Fish (re-expression/reframing), The Brand Innovation Manifesto by John Grant (related worlds/category stealing), and Wayne Lotherington’s Flicking your Creative Switch (random links/random word). That’s not a crime, but it’s worth being aware of the connections.