I recently read the Tipping Point and was struck with the
deflation of many of my assumptions about how major
changes happen in society. As I read the book, I kept
asking myself the question, "How can I cultivate a
'tipping point' for small groups I facilitate, for
individuals I coach, or for my own personal change?"
Can I use these same principles Mr. Gladwell has uncovered
to get my own life to "tip" so to speak by
making small but smart changes? I'm not completely
sure how that might work, but I thought it might be fun,
and maybe even enlightening, to invite a few of you into a
teleconference to discuss this concept for an hour to see
what we might come up with.
I'll start by offering a brief review of the book, then
we'll brainstorm ways to apply this stuff to individuals
and small groups. Please
click here to register and to
receive bridge information. But hurry, my bridge can
handle only 30 callers.
A short book review is included below. I look forward to
seeing you on the call.
best way to understand the dramatic transformation of
unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage
smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number
of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday
life," writes Malcolm Gladwell, "is to think of
them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and
behaviors spread just like viruses do." Although
anyone familiar with the theory of memetics will recognize
this concept, Gladwell's The Tipping Point has
quite a few interesting twists on the subject.
For example, Paul Revere
was able to galvanize the forces of resistance so
effectively in part because he was what Gladwell calls a
"Connector": he knew just about everybody,
particularly the revolutionary leaders in each of the
towns that he rode through. But Revere "wasn't just
the man with the biggest Rolodex in colonial Boston,"
he was also a "Maven" who gathered extensive
information about the British. He knew what was going on
and he knew exactly whom to tell. The phenomenon continues
to this day--think of how often you've received
information in an e-mail message that had been forwarded
at least half a dozen times before reaching you.
Gladwell develops these and
other concepts (such as the "stickiness" of
ideas or the effect of population size on information
dispersal) through simple, clear explanations and
entertainingly illustrative anecdotes, such as comparing
the pedagogical methods of Sesame Street and Blue's
Clues, or explaining why it would be even easier to
play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with the actor Rod
Although some readers may find the transitional passages
between chapters hold their hands a little too tightly,
and Gladwell's closing invocation of the possibilities of
social engineering sketchy, even chilling, The Tipping
Point is one of the most effective books on science
for a general audience in ages. It seems inevitable that
"tipping point," like "future shock"
or "chaos theory," will soon become one of those
ideas that everybody knows--or at least knows by name.