The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is a bestseller. It’s also got some major heft in both ideas and weightiness. (My paperback edition clocks in at just under 300 pages.) It’s not “a little light reading” kind of book, though you might think so since it’s about “that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior cross a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire“. I mean, that’s not a difficult concept to understand. Am I right?
Most of us have heard of “The Butterfly Effect” and believe it. We already know that little things can trigger bigger things. We know about the “Six Degrees” theory. We understand that when we toss a pebble in a pond, the ripples can be felt far beyond where the pebble sinks. Even I have talked about what I call, “The Before and After,” which is very similar in that things are one way until they hit a “tipping point” and then they’re very different.
Ah yes, but… take the notion a little (a lot) deeper, and you get this book.
“The three rules of the Tipping Point—the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, the Power of Context—offer a way of making sense of epidemics. They provide us with direction for how to go about reaching a Tipping Point.” –―
Let’s begin with the idea that there IS such a thing as a “Tipping Point” and that we’re all on board.
Next, we must define the “Three Rules”:
- LAW OF THE FEW – “Success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts”. Specifically, Gladwell characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people. My thoughts: These days, it takes well over that number to get fellow socializers (for lack of a better term) to really care (i.e. to stick, see next rule).
- STICKINESS FACTOR – “The quality that compels people to pay close, sustained attention to a product, concept, or idea.” Think Trump or Oprah <<< my suggestion, not Gladwell’s.
- POWER OF CONTEXT – “Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur”. Not to sound like a broken record, but once again, think Trump or Oprah. If people aren’t in “the place – emotional space or otherwise* – to hear, grasp and take in the message, they will not “hear it”. Again, my thoughts.
Finally, things will go a lot easier if you believe that social trends = epidemics. The word is used that way throughout the book.
Gladwell’s book is excellent if you like this kind of thing.
I’ll be honest, I find the subject fascinating but the … uh … zillions of case studies … and scientific stuff a little heavy-handed. This is probably because I’m one of those gullible people who simply believe what you tell me. Bottom line it for me! No need to explain! I don’t want to know what my water went through to make it drinkable. I just want to turn on the tap and be assured that I can safely drink it. Know what I mean? And yes, it’s gotten me in some trouble… all throughout my life. But I digress.
I have a few books by Gladwell and have given away a couple, too. I know when something’s wonderful but “not really for me” and this is one of those books. But… it’s got the wow-factor and maybe, one day, I’ll pick it up again and really get into it.
PS: Probably not, but I can dream.
PSS: I notice that water has been featured throughout this post. It’s been on my mind a lot lately.
PSS: Yes, this is what ADD looks like.