Sunday, April 08, 2007

Book Notes - The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point - How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Malcolm Gladwell
[I know I'm late to reading this, but this was a fascinating read. Gladwell is a great story teller and there are some pretty significant principles in this book about leadership, movements and change.]

::: Law of the Few
Connector - they know lots and lots of people, different kinds of people that they know, manage to occupy many different worlds and subcultures and niches, social glue.

Maven - information broker, not just passive collectors of information, but they are delighted to pass that information on to others as well, wanting to help for no other reason than they like to help, data bank.

Salesmen - skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced.

Also, idea of emotional contagion - how emotions are transferred person to person.
Mimicry is also by one of the means by which we infect each other with our emotions. In other words, if I smile and you see me smile and smile in response - even a micro smile that takes no more than several milliseconds - it's not just you imitating or empathizing with me. It may also be a way that I can pass on my happiness to you. Emotion is contagious.


::: Stickiness
Fear experiments - free tetanus shots - included a map and appointment times that made the difference

Sesame Street
Virtually every time the show's educational value has been tested - and Sesame Street has been subject to more academic scrutiny than any television show in history - it has been proved to increase the reading and learning skills of its viewers. There are few educators and child psychologist who don't believe that the show managed to spread its infectious message well beyond the homes of those who watched the show regularly... They discovered that by making small but critical adjustments in how they presented ideas to preschoolers, they could overcome television's weakness as a teaching tool and make that they had to say memorable. Sesame Street succeeded because it learned how to make television sticky.

Blues Clues
- active involvement
- repetition -
"So the driving force for a preschooler is not a search for novelty, like it is with older kids, it's a search for understanding and predictability."
Tinkering for Stickiness
We all want to believe that they key to making an impact on someone lies with the inherent quality of the ideas we present. But in none of these cases did anyone substantially alter the content of what they were saying. Instead, they tipped the message by tinkering, on the margin, with the presentation of their ideas... The line between hostility and acceptance, in other words, between an epidemic that tips and one that does not, is sometimes a lot narrower than it seems.

::: Power of Context - I
Bernie Goetz and the Broken Windows theory [there is something foundationally important we should explore on this one - more later]

::: Power of Context - II
John Wesley and community
The Rule of 150 -
[British anthropologist Robin] Dunbar has combed through the anthropological literature and found that the number 150 pops up again and again. For example, he looks at 21 different hunter-gatherer societies for which we have solid historical evidence, from the Walbiri of Australia to the Tauade of New Guinea to the Ammassalik of Greenland to the Ona of Tierra del Fuego and found that the average number of people in their villages was 148.4.

WL Gore factories and work teams, Hutterite colonies

::: Case Studies
Airwalk sneakers and the diffusion model

Suicide in Micronesia -
... a group of researches in England in the 1960s analyzed 135 people who had been admitted to a cetrnal psychiatric hospital after attemping suicide. They found that the group was swwrongly linked socially - that many of them belonged to the same social circles. This, they concluded, was not coincidence. It testified to the very essence of what suicide is, a private language between members of a common subculture... If suicide in the West is a kind of crude language in Micronesia, it has become an incredibly expressive form of communication, rich with meaning and nuance, and expressed by the most persuasive of permission-givers.

Teenage smoking -
Yet all signs suggest that among the young the anti-smoking message is backfiring. Between 1993 and 1997, the number of college students who smoke jumped from 22.3 percent to 28.5 percent. Between 1991 and 1997, the number of high school students who smoke jumped 32 percent. Since 1998, in fact, the total number of teen smokers in the United States has risen an extraordinary 73 percent. There are few public health programs in recent years that have fallen as short of their mission as the war on smoking.


::: Principles
1. Starting epidemics requires concentrating resources on a few key areas - Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.
2. Those who are successful at creating social epidemics do not just do what they think is right. They deliberately test their intuition. What must underlie successful epidemics, in the end, is a bedrock belief that change is possible, that people can radically transform their behavior or beliefs in the face of the right kind of impetus... We are actually powerfully influenced by our surroundings, our immediate context, and the personalities of those around us... Merely by manipulating the size of a group, we can dramatically improve its receptivity to new ideas. By tinkering with the presentation of information, we can significantly improve its stickiness. Simply by finding and reaching those few special people who hold so much social power, we can shape the course of social epidemics....In the end, Tipping Points are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action. Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push - in just the right place - it can be tipped.
::: How About It?
- Keep on the lookout for Connectors, Mavens and Salespeople.
- The Law of the Few reminds me of StrengthsFinder Connectedness, Relator, Woo and Includer, but seems to go even deeper than that. Not everyone is one of these but when social change is concentrated on these three types, that is when things tip. Could it be that these are the 2% required to change a whole population? Also reminds me of the principle of reaching leaders and not just followers - these three wield a lot of influence.
- Emotions are contagious.
- Experiment with our SPACE experiences not only in content but in environment and architecture to make them sticky.
- Context and culture are significant.
- Was the apostle Paul a Connector, Maven or Salesperson? I think at least one.
- What makes Christianity sticky to a suburban, American teenager ?

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