The Tipping Point

What small factors separate an incident from an outbreak?

Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point; How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” made it to my list after I found “Blink” such a nice read.  Actually “Outliers” is on there as well, but I found this title on a library shelf first;-)

In it, Gladwell talks about what makes an event a phenomena and how seemingly small things can greatly influence its success.

Let me take you through a bit of it and leave you with a question.



I’ve grown fond of Gladwell’s style of writing – in part because he pulls in great examples to drive his point home.

From Paul Revere and the other not so vividly remembered rider from Boston, to Airwalk sneakers, to New York City Crime Statistics – each adds color and clarity to the point Gladwell is making.

Three factors

Gladwell takes great effort to show how three factors come into play and carry heavy significance on the success of an event.

  1. The Few
  2. The Stickiness Factor
  3. The Power of Context

A few people can have a huge influence on the outcome of any event. Gladwell describes the roles of three “specialists” (Connectors, Salesmen, and Mavens) in great detail and explains why they have such a large influence. If you’re working on a project, you’d like to have some of these types of people on your side.

Stickiness is about taking a product, advertisement, or program to the next level – with detailed improvements and changes that accentuate the positives and capture the viewer’s mind. It isn’t just another offering, it’s one that makes an impact and you want to hang onto. You’d like your project to stay in the mind of your audience.

And context considers unique factors in relation to what’s happening all around. Think of the potential positive results if you’re able to release your ground breaking product while everyone’s attention is on your market…

Creating a phenomena

For most of the way through the book, I had the following thought in the back of my mind – How do these points apply to the areas where I’d like to see success?

And that does seem to be the point of the book – showing us how these phenomena are created and how we can apply that knowledge to the projects that we really care about.

Do you influence, or are you influenced?

When you go about what you normally do, are you thinking about what you can do to influence others?

Or are you the one that others are influencing?

Are you adding to the wave, or are you floating along with it?

Bears some thinking, doesn’t it…

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