FRAME: Emergence and Social Epidemics

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell
Introduction
The book takes a crack at explaining how
contagious behavior—like a fashion trend, or the
emergence of a bestseller—starts and grows in an
organic fashion, much like a virus does, without any
central control or master plan. It focuses in
particular on examples where little changes create
big effects (like when the temperature of fresh water
drops from 32.2 degrees to 31.9 degrees and all of a
sudden ice occurs). And it also tries to understand
when change happens not gradually, but
explosively. The “tipping point” from which the
book takes its title is that point in a system’s
development where a small change leads to a huge
effect, in a very rapid time frame, and spreads
through the system in a contagious fashion. Not all
systemic change is like this, but for those people
who want to foment rapid change, the principles or
components of the tipping point model are worth
examining.

Components of the Model

The Law of the Few
Contagious expansion of ideas or systemic changes
doesn’t rely upon thousands or millions of people
all rising up of one accord to create the change.
Instead, the rapid growth is usually started by a
handful of people who exhibit some kind of
exceptional behavior. In the propagation of
infectious diseases, there are often certain types of
people who by the nature of what they do or the
lifestyle they lead allow the growth of the disease to
tip so that it becomes an epidemic. The same can be
said for many other trends—a small number of
people (like skateboarders) have the ability to infect
a large number of other people with a new idea (like
a style of clothing or shoes). Within the law of the
few, there are three types of exceptional people who
tend to lend disproportional influence to make a
change tip and become a trend. They’re Connectors,
Mavens and Salesmen.
Connectors
There are some people who seem to know
everyone. As information travels through networks,
two things tend to happen. First, the information is
highly likely to come in contact with a connector—
much more likely than coming in contact with
someone who is not so connected. Second, if the
information engages the connector’s interest, he or
she will distribute it to a huge number of other
individuals in a short period of time, creating a
tipping point. There don’t need to be many of them
in a system to propagate a new trend.

Mavens
Mavens are information specialists. They’re the
types of people who know everything there is to
know about a certain topic. But they have one
additional feature that makes them different from
ordinary experts: they love to share what they know
with others. They’re not necessarily a hub in a
network like a connector is, but they are eager to
share what they know. Mavens are important as
tipping points because they’re on the leading edge
of acquiring new information. They know things
that the rest of us don’t. In a network of individuals,
they’re likely the first to know of a potential system
change. If they’re in touch with a connector, then
the change can get communicated very rapidly.

Salesmen
These people are the quintessential persuaders who
can get people to make decisions and take actions
Key Concepts: Visual and Narrative Models of Important New Thinking
FRAME: Emergence and SociaI Epidemics
The Tipping Point. How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell
Introduction
The book takes a crack at explaining how contagious
behaviorlike a Iashion trend. or the emergence oI a
bestsellerstarts and grows in an organic Iashion.
much like a virus does. without any central control or
master plan. It Iocuses in particular on examples
where little changes create big eIIects (like when the
temperature oI Iresh water drops Irom 32.2 degrees
to 31.9 degrees and all oI a sudden ice occurs). And
it also tries to understand when change happens not
gradually. but explosively. The 'tipping point¨ Irom
which the book takes its title is that point in a sys-
tem`s development where a small change leads to a
huge eIIect. in a very rapid time Irame. and spreads
through the system in a contagious Iashion. Not all
systemic change is like this. but Ior those people who
want to Ioment rapid change. the principles or com-
ponents oI the tipping point model are worth examin-
ing.

Components of the ModeI

The Law of the Few
Contagious expansion oI ideas or systemic changes
doesn`t rely upon thousands or millions oI people all
rising up oI one accord to create the change. Instead.
the rapid growth is usually started by a handIul oI
people who exhibit some kind oI exceptional behav-
Key Concepts: Visual and Narrative Models of Important New Thinking
ior. In the propagation oI inIectious diseases. there
are oIten certain types oI people who by the nature oI
what they do or the liIestyle they lead allow the
growth oI the disease to tip so that it becomes an
epidemic. The same can be said Ior many other
trendsa small number oI people (like skateboard-
ers) have the ability to inIect a large number oI other
people with a new idea (like a style oI clothing or
shoes). Within the law oI the Iew. there are three
types oI exceptional people who tend to lend dispro-
portional inIluence to make a change tip and become
a trend. They`re Connectors. Mavens and Salesmen.

Connectors
There are some people who seem to know every-
one. As inIormation travels through networks.
two things tend to happen. First. the inIormation
is highly likely to come in contact with a connec-
tormuch more likely than coming in contact
with someone who is not so connected. Second. iI
the inIormation engages the connector`s interest.
he or she will distribute it to a huge number oI
other individuals in a short period oI time. creat-
ing a tipping point. There don`t need to be many
oI them in a system to propagate a new trend.

Mavens
Mavens are inIormation specialists. They`re the
types oI people who know everything there is to
know about a certain topic. But they have one
additional Ieature that makes them diIIerent Irom
ordinary experts: they love to share what they
know with others. They`re not necessarily a hub
in a network like a connector is. but they are ea-
ger to share what they know. Mavens are impor-
tant as tipping points because they`re on the lead-
ing edge oI acquiring new inIormation. They
know things that the rest oI us don`t. In a network
oI individuals. they`re likely the Iirst to know oI a
potential system change. II they`re in touch with
a connector. then the change can get communi-
cated very rapidly.

Salesmen
These people are the quintessential persuaders
who can get people to make decisions and take
Connectors have
relationships with many,
many other indivi dual s
Mavens have
deep knowledge
about a
particular
subject and are
keen to share it
Salesmen can
i nfluence people
to take action
that they ordinarily wouldn’t take if left to
themselves. But these salesmen are not the type that
are reviled in popular culture—instead they’re
people who have the ability to persuade in part
because they can get the other person to root for
them in the same way that an audience roots for a
performer on stage. They also use their emotions as
contagious influences on other people. Their ability
to persuade makes them strong carriers of infectious
ideas, concepts, trends and changes.

The Stickiness Factor
Every advertising firm dreams of creating those
specific types of messages that capture the attention
of the public in such a way that the message
becomes ingrained into the culture. Xerox became
synonymous with photocopying. The Wendy’s
brand received a boost with the phrase “where’s the
beef?” Nike’s slogan became a mantra for a
generation: “Just do it.” But slogans are not the only
things that rely upon stickiness for success.
Teachers look for ways to provide stickiness in their
lessons. Television shows try to find ways to get
viewers hooked. People trying to make changes in
organizations hunt for ways of presenting the
change so that its features become contagious. The
trick is that there is usually one small element
within the design of the television show or the
strategic plan or the marketing idea that provides the
stickiness component. It’s not necessary that the
entire idea or that all of the components of the new
educational intervention be sticky. If only one
component is irresistible enough, it will bring the
rest of the components along with it. Some other
features that contribute to stickiness include:
participation, practicality, personal.

The Power of Context
The physical and social environment within which
an individual or group of people receives a
particular type of information can radically
influence whether the information sticks and gets
passed on. But it’s not necessarily that the
environment as a whole causes the contagious
behavior. Instead, it’s possible to take a trend to the
tipping point by tinkering with the smallest details
of the environment. An example can be found in the
“broken windows” experiment in New York City in
the early 1990’s. If a window is broken and left un-
repaired, people walking by will conclude that no
one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more
windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy
will spread from the building to the street on which
it faces, sending a signal that anything. New York
applied this principle in reverse, diligently playing
hardball on the little things like broken windows,
graffiti and panhandling in certain crime ridden
parts of the city. As attention to the little things
improved, residents felt more comfortable moving
about in their neighborhoods and criminals felt less
comfortable. Attention to the “broken windows”
caused the crime rate to tip and reduce in a radical
way.

There’s a social side to the power of context. It
seems that groups of up to 150 can serve as
incubators for contagious messages. They exhibit a
sort of joint memory system. One hundred fifty
people is about the maximum number of people that
a single human being can have a valuable
relationship with— a relationship that can serve as
an influence to individual behavior.
For more information contact:
257 Castle Glen Road
Walnut Creek CA 94595-2642
(925) 934-1786
Key Concepts: Visual and Narrative Models of Important New Thinking
actions that they ordinarily wouldn`t take iI leIt to
themselves. But these salesmen are not the type
that are reviled in popular cultureinstead
they`re people who have the ability to persuade in
part because they can get the other person to root
Ior them in the same way that an audience roots
Ior a perIormer on stage. They also use their
emotions as contagious inIluences on other peo-
ple. Their ability to persuade makes them strong
carriers oI inIectious ideas. concepts. trends and
changes.

The Stickiness Factor
Every advertising Iirm dreams oI creating those spe-
ciIic types oI messages that capture the attention oI
the public in such a way that the message becomes
ingrained into the culture. Xerox became synony-
mous with photocopying. The Wendy`s brand re-
ceived a boost with the phrase 'where`s the beeI?¨
Nike`s slogan became a mantra Ior a generation:
'Just do it.¨ But slogans are not the only things that
rely upon stickiness Ior success. Teachers look Ior
ways to provide stickiness in their lessons. Televi-
sion shows try to Iind ways to get viewers hooked.
People trying to make changes in organizations hunt
Ior ways oI presenting the change so that its Ieatures
become contagious. The trick is that there is usually
one small element within the design oI the television
show or the strategic plan or the marketing idea that
provides the stickiness component. It`s not necessary
that the entire idea or that all oI the components oI
the new educational intervention be sticky. II only
one component is irresistible enough. it will bring
the rest oI the components along with it. Some other
Ieatures that contribute to stickiness include: partici-
pation. practicality. personal.

The Power of Context
The physical and social environment within which
an individual or group oI people receives a particular
type oI inIormation can radically inIluence whether
the inIormation sticks and gets passed on. But it`s
not necessarily that the environment as a whole
causes the contagious behavior. Instead. it`s possible
to take a trend to the tipping point by tinkering with
the smallest details oI the environment. An example
can be Iound in the 'broken windows¨ experiment in
New York City in the early 1990`s. II a window is
broken and leIt unrepaired. people walking by will
conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge.
Soon. more windows will be broken. and the sense
oI anarchy will spread Irom the building to the street
on which it Iaces. sending a signal that anything.
New York applied this principle in reverse. diligently
playing hardball on the little things like broken win-
dows. graIIiti and panhandling in certain crime-
ridden parts oI the city. As attention to the little
things improved. residents Ielt more comIortable
moving about in their neighborhoods and criminals
Ielt less comIortable. Attention to the 'broken win-
dows¨ caused the crime rate to tip and reduce in a
radical way.

There`s a social side to the power oI context. It
seems that groups oI up to 150 can serve as incuba-
tors Ior contagious messages. They exhibit a sort oI
ioint memory system. One hundred IiIty people is
about the maximum number oI people that a single
human being can have a valuable relationship with
a relationship that can serve as an inIluence to indi-
vidual behavior.
The Law of the Few says
that trends can become
highl y and rapi dly
contagious based on the
i nfluence of only a few
people or circumstances
The Sti ckiness
factor says that
trends become
highly
contagious
because of some
small element
inside the trend
that makes it
stick wi th people
The Power of Context says that a
few components of the physical
and social envi ronment can
radically increase the contagi ous
nature of an idea.

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If a window is broken and left unrepaired.#&.*(&%#(#)*(#+8*( them in the same way that an audience roots #)!#(!.!'*(C/)*..(3$.'%(0'*(#)*$.*&#.(/!+'(%3(8.$.'(3%.Key Concepts: Visual and Narrative Models of Important New Thinking that they ordinarily wouldn’t take if left to themselves.!(3%.!&(:*"!4*(!(4!&#.*= Teachers look for ways to provide stickiness in "*$5*-(!(:%%'#(/$#)(#)*(8).+$&.*'(#)!#("%&#.0*&"*(#%($&-$= incubators for contagious messages.!&$J!#$%&'()0&#( within the design of the television show or the 3%.$.!#$%&')$8(/$#)9 seems that groups of up to 150 can serve as !(.(#)*(")!&.$"($&('0")(!(/!+(#)!#(#)*(4*''!.*'*&#$&.0*&"*'(%&(%#)*.#(%3( T%$&#(4*4%..#'(%3(#)*("$#+6(M'(!##*&#$%&(#%(#)*(.-(&.183.*(.(%3(8*%8.4*. The Wendy’s ?5*..+(PQQR1'6(K3(!(/$&-%/($'( :.(:*)!5$%.*(#)!#(!('$&.*6(M##*&#$%&(#%(#)*(C:.$*.(/$#)( #)*('4!.($-*!(#)!#( educational intervention be sticky.*#(5$*/*.'0!-*($&( contagious influences on other people.('#. One hundred fifty people is about the maximum number of people that a single human being can have a valuable relationship with— a relationship that can serve as an influence to individual behavior.*!4'(%3(".$&.*3#(#%( because they can get the other person to root for #)*4'*.. sending a signal that anything..$()$*"#$7"-.$#+(#%(8*. and the sense of anarchy 8.!33$#$(!&-(8!&)!&-.(#)*('#.*1'(#)*(:**3DE(their lessons.2$3.*&-'(!&-( specific types of messages that capture the attention ")!&.

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