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

{original squeezed contributor: karl}


A “tipping point” is the point in an epidemic (where the term comes from), or any social phenomenon that doesn’t grow linearly (most don’t). It’s the inflection point in the classic “hockey stick” graph where the thing has gathered critical mass and takes off, growing exponentially.

The types of people that produce a “tipping point”:

  1. Connectors: people with wide social circles, especially those who move in many different groups and subcultures.

  2. Mavens: people who are experts, or at least very knowledgeable.

  3. Salesmen: those who are charismatic enough to influence other people. People that others “want to be like”, even if it’s not conscious.

  • “The Law of the Few”: the above types of individual are disproportionately more powerful in terms of social phenomenon. These exceptional people are capable of starting epidemics.

  • “The Power of Context”: small changes in context can make a big difference in “tipping”. An epidemic will not take hold unless the context is right.

  • The stickyness factor:

Mechanisms to make something sticky or memorable include reinforcement and repetition, refinement and distillation, celebrity, hooks and triggers, clarity and understandability of message, conveyance by narrative (story), suspense, and other ways of “packaging to make it irresistable”.

Tips for creating your own “epidemic”:

  1. Focus on the group of mavens who have the ability and desire to work on the idea and the connectors and salesmen who can bring your idea to a wider community.

  2. Test the message or idea with people to refine it and improve its packaging.

  3. Believe in your idea and its possibilities to radically change the world. With a small push in just the right place, the world can be tipped.


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