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Book Review: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

October 27, 2002

The Tipping PointThe 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 person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. Mr. Gladwell, in a very well written and compelling book, has changed the way we think about the root-cause of social epidemics, mob “psychology,” and institutional growth.

Through clear examples and studies of well known and familiar marketing “phenomenon,” we come to realize that we often misdiagnose both our successes and our failures when it comes to understanding why certain social changes stick. We are given the “real analysis” of why Blue’s Clues and Sesame Street are great successes while other more deliberate attempts at “hooking” our children on educational TV failed. We find out why the New York City crime rate was drastically reduced by cleaning up graffiti on the trains and arresting the squeegee men at the toll booths. More importantly, we learn how to challenge the status quo in our ideas of why products and services might take off or fail in our business and non-profit organizations.

We also learn why growing an organization from 100 people to 150 people presents no difficulty, but growing that same organization from 150 to 200 is all but doomed to fail. Mr. Gladwell explains why context matters in our quest to understand the social trends around us. And we learn why telling medical students to rush makes them calloused citizens despite their normally compassionate tendencies. All of this information is important to those of us working to grow our institutions and manage our company cultures. Change management is doomed to fail without a deep understanding of the “Tipping Point” as clearly and eloquently explained in this excellent book by Malcolm Gladwell. This is a must read for anyone serious about understanding why little things can make a very, very big difference!

Click to see it at Amazon.

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