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Paperback The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Book

ISBN: 0316346624

ISBN13: 9780316346627

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

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Book Overview

Uncover the captivating science behind viral trends in business, marketing, and human behavior in the breakthrough debut -- named one of the best books of the decade by The A.V. Club and The Guardian -- by Malcolm Gladwell, the bestselling author of The Bomber Mafia. The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Learning How to Grow Faster from the Metaphor of Epidemics!

Tipping points are those places where geometric increases follow, that are temporarily unbounded by other limits. For example, when lily pads cover a little more than half of a pond, the rest of the pond's surface will soon follow. That last doubling will cause almost more surface to be covered than all of the prior growth, but will take only a fraction of the time. Although this book focuses on tipping points, it is really about systems dynamics -- how related phenomena build on each other in feedback loops (for example, how adding food to the environment for rapidly growing species expands their populations). This subject is an essential part of books like The Fifth Discipline, The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, The Dance of Change, and The Soul at Work. Because the book never makes that connection to systems dynamics, most readers won't either. That's a problem because you will need the tools from these other resources and disciplines to apply this book's thesis of pushing the tipping point. Missing this connection is the book's main weakness.For people who are interested in how to start (or stop) trends, this book is a useful encapsulation of much of the best and most provocative behavioral research in recent years. Unless you follow this subject closely (someone the author would call a Maven), you will find that much of this is new to you.On the other hand, if you have been involved in the marketing of trendy items or stopping medical epidemics, this will seem very elementary and old hat. I found the book to be a pleasant and quick read of how behaviors move from equilibrium into disequilibrium, caused by some factor that creates the tipping point to expand or decrease the behavior. If you are like me, I suspect you will, too.If you want to apply these lessons, you will probably find the book's explanation of the concepts to be just a little too general for your real needs. A good related book to fill in your sense of how human behavior works is Influence by Robert Cialdini. Essentially, the book's thesis is that trends grow by expanding the base of those who will spread the word of mouth and be listened to, aided by powerful messages that stick indelibly into the mind and an environment that psychologically encourages the trend. The weakness of that argument is that it fails to fully address the physical needs that might be served to support the trend. Sure, psychology is important, but so is physiology. To the author's credit, the examples clearly deal with physiology (such as the smoking and children's television sections), but the book's thesis does not really do so. It is a strange omission. I think some people will be confused about what to do as a result.Clearly, this book is about identifying what causes behavior through careful measurement. The examples are especially interesting because the common sense causes are seldom the right ones. For example, some children do not seem to pay much attention to a given educational televisi

A thought provoking, interesting and potentially useful book

This relatively short book is a very pleasant surprise. Usually I am quite skeptical of new theories and concepts that attempt to explain human behavior, since the thinking, embedded in pompous language, often proves shallow and the primary goal seems simply to grab attention and book sales. Instead I found Gladwell's book well written, fast paced, interesting and thought provoking. Subject to translating its ideas successfully into practical actions, I believe it is potentially very useful in social sciences and business. Gladwell's use of examples from very different fields adds to the interest in and credibility of the factors that contribute to a sudden "epidemic" - good or bad - of a behavior, an idea, a product or a belief. I am particularly intrigued by his concept that the true underlying causes and explanations for what we perceive as extremely complex social issues, for example, can be "tipped" with simple, direct actions in the right place at the right time. All too often governments and companies try to solve their big problems with excessively expensive, but ineffective programs or projects. I agree with him that attempted solutions frequently fail to address basic motivational factors and that the best solutions are often counterintuitive.For those of us in business, I think the concepts in this book, properly applied, could make us more effective. Gladwell's business examples, his linkage to Geoffrey Moore's "Crossing the Chasm" and his brief discussion of the "magic 150" make the book worth reading. Far from being a "how to" handbook, considerable thought will be required to apply it practically, which I believe will be a good learning experience.As I read the book I realized that many analogs of this concept exist in the physical world. There are many examples from stereo amplifiers to martial arts in which relatively small forces or energy inputs at the right place and time cause large differences in outcomes. Why five stars? The book gave me a new perspective for thinking how and why things happen in society and business. It presents interesting observations and information about trends that affect us. I think it will be useful in my business. It is well written. And, it is unpretentiously short.

Brings 'Sticky' Ideas to a Nexus

I read this book in part of one day - it's a good, quick read. Unlike some of the people who didn't care for the book - I never read the New Yorker article. It may be that the book doesn't add enough new info to excite folks who have read that article. But to me the book threw out a good number of new ideas and concepts very quickly and very clearly. I found his ability to draw a nexus between things that, on the surface seem very divergent, was very interesting, and he did it smoothly, without jumping around a lot. The thrust of the book is that there are three things that can converge to bring about dramatic and perhaps unexpectedly fast changes in our society. These are the context (the situational environment - especially when it's near the balance or 'tipping point'), the idea, and the people involved. His point is that very small changes in any or several of the context, the quality of the idea (which he calls 'stickiness', ie how well the idea sticks), or whether the idea reaches a very small group of key people can trigger a dramatic epidemic of change in society. "In a given process or system some people matter more than others." (p.19). "The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts." (p.33). He divides these gifted people into three categories: Connectors, Mavens and Salespeople. "Sprinkled among every walk of life ... are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. They are Connectors." (p. 41). "I always keep up with people." (p. 44 quoting a "Connector"). "in the case of Connectors, their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy." (p.49). "The point about Connectors is that by having a foot in so many different worlds they have the effect of bringing them all together." (p.51). "The word Maven comes from the Yiddish, and it means one who accumulates knowledge." (p. 60). "The fact that Mavens want to help, for no other reason than because they like to help, turns out to be an awfully effective way of getting someone's attention." (p.67). "The one thing that a Maven is not is a persuader. To be a Maven is to be a teacher. But it is also, even more emphatically to be a student." (p.69). "There is also a select group of people -- Salesmen -- with the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing." (p. 70). He goes on to describe an individual named Tom Gau who is a Salesman. "He seems to have some indefinable trait, something powerful and contagious and irresistible that goes beyond what comes out of his mouth, that makes people who meet him want to agree with him. It's energy. It's enthusiasm. It's charm. It's likability. It's all those things and yet something more." (p. 73).H

Great Insights into Mass Behaviors

Despite an earlier reviewer poo-pooing this book for shallow insights, I beg to differ. This book is a fascinating and original take on what makes people behave in a certain way en masse. Tying together Paul Revere, Hush Puppies and many other very accessible ideas makes this book, that is in some ways very academic, read like a thriller. I read it in three sittings. It has an impact on several levels. One, as a marketer, it gave me insights into how word-of-mouth really works. I'll be experimenting with these concepts for years. Second, as a member of society, I gained insight into why I am pulled this way and that by trends. If you enjoyed this, you'll also enjoy the groundbreaking book by Robert Cialdini called "Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion." It makes some of the same points. Finally, it makes me think that some savvy activists will find some ways to use these principles to start societal epidemics that will ultimately have a positive effect. I believe Gladwell has introduced a concept, "the Tipping Point," that will have a wide-ranging impact on how we view the world and human behavior.

Multidisciplinary Mastery

I've taught psychology at a university for twenty years, and was prepared to be dubious about Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point"; he is, after all, a journalist, not an academic. Despite his highly readable style, though, I was amazed by the level of sophistication and scholarship that he brings to his subjects. You can cavil about details, but the vigor and intellectual energy of the book is formidable. "The Tipping Point" assembles sometimes arcane findings from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the Journal of Consumer Researcher, Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, American Journal of Sociology, International Journal of Criminology and Penology and other scholarly resources. It explains and builds upon research by such major social-science figures as Marc Granovetter, Jonathan Crane, and the legendary Thomas Schelling. And the project is infused with an interdisciplinary ease: a special pleasure is the unexpected juxtapositions of research in linguistics, medical science, social psychology, marketing, political science, and mathematics All of which is to say that the erudition and theoretical sophistication of this work is truly impressive. It may be aimed at "civilians," but the guy can teach us scholars a few things
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