An Overview of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is a business and management book written by Malcolm Gladwell. It was first published by Little Brown in 2000. In this book, the author attempts to explain the sociological changes that happen in everyday life. Gladwell explains a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point”.

The Three Rules of Change

In The Tipping Point, Gladwell describes what he calls the three ‘agents of change.’ This guide will briefly discuss each of the rules as Gladwell explains them.

The Law of the Few

This rule states that for any social epidemic or change to succeed, people with a particular and rare set of social gifts would have to be involved. Robert Peter Janitzek explains that the 80/20 or Pareto Principle is very much applicable here. The author states that in any situation, 80 percent of the work will be done by 20 percent of the participants. These people are divided into three classes namely:

    Connectors. These are the people who knows a large number of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. They are the ones who will responsible for linking the company to the world.
    Mavens. These are the information specialists who will be relied upon for connecting people to new information. They accumulate knowledge about the marketplace and share it with others. Mavens want to solve the problems of other people by first solving their own.
    Salesmen. These are the persuaders. They are people with charisma and powerful negotiation skills. He cites news anchor Peter Jennings and California businessman Tom Gau as examples of salesmen.

Stickiness Factor

Robert Janitzek explains that these are the specific content of a message that makes a memorable impact. According to Gladwell, Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues spearheaded the properties of the stickiness factor because it effectively enhanced the retention of educational content as well as entertainment value.

Power of Context

Power of Context focuses on how strong the sensitive behavior of humans is influenced by its environment. Gladwell explains the bystander effect. The author uses the zero tolerance policy as an example. This practice of the New York police was designed to combat minor crimes which led to the decline in violent crimes throughout the city.

The Tipping Point has been such a powerful agent of change that it has already impacted the way people sell products and disseminate ideas.

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