The following article was influenced by the famous journalist, Malcolm Galdwell’s first book ever written—The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point”. Once an idea reaches the tipping point, the idea spreads like wildfire. He explains that ideas and products and messages “tip” or spread the same way viruses create epidemics — or pandemics. The book attempts to answer the question of: Why is it that some ideas or behaviors or products start epidemics and other’s don’t. And what can we do to deliberately start and control positive epidemics of our own?
For an idea to reach it’s tipping point, Gladwell points out 3 different laws and ways in which they do so. The first law is linked to the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule. Which states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes (the “vital few”). So in our case, 20% of the idea “carriers” or messengers cause 80% of the spread of the idea. He calls this “The Law of the Few” where principally, 3 types of people are responsible for spreading ideas: (1) Connectors: who are people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions
(2) Mavens: who are “information specialists”, or “people we rely upon to connect us with new information.”
(3) Salesmen: who are “persuaders”, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, which makes others want to agree with them.
These three kinds of people are responsible for the spread of ideas or behaviors or products.
The second law is “The Stickiness Factor”: Stickiness is what is meant by how sticky an idea is. Specific traits in ideas and products that make their impact memorable. Unless you remember what I tell you, (Even if I’m a Connector, Maven or a Salesman) why would you ever change your behavior or buy my product or go to see my movie? Make your message stick with people. Let it be remembered easily always and stick to people’s minds. If your idea isn’t sticky, no man can ever convince another to adopt your idea or message. That’s why brands with sticky slogans such as “Just Do It.” and “i’m lovin’ it” are so significant and those taglines mean so much, even as a customer (even though the slogans weren’t the only reasons for the success of Nike and McDonald’s).
The third law is “The Power of Context” that means that Human behavior is sensitive to and strongly influenced by its environment. If we change the immediate environment of normal people from good schools and neighborhoods, we will powerfully affect their behavior since character is a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests which in turn are all dependent on our immediate surroundings, circumstances and context. So to change someone’s behavior and views on an idea, we should understand their environment and context of their lives first.
In complete summary, and also as the title says, to make an idea or behavior or product or trend tip and spread like wildfire, that dramatic moment, the tipping points wasn’t the effect of some huge plan or strategy enacted upon but rather the little things—The Stickiness Factor, smart people advertising your idea and the huge magnitude of power of context and immediate environment—that made the big difference. And they are what make ideas tip
The Tipping Point, first published in 2000—and with all the change of technology and new ways of business and advanced platforms—still holds true today with it’s incredible laws and methods of spreading ideas and products. If you liked this, be sure to read “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell.
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