Book review entries

October 12, 2011

Book review

Book front cover
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Malcolm Gladwell
Not rated

The author begins the introduction of the book giving examples of some companies so that we can understand what is meant by critical point and tipping point.

Brief summary of the book:

Specifically states that the Hush Puppies shoes were now past when he suddenly began to be known in fashion and sales to soar to new heights. This is because some young men began to wear because nobody did it, without trying to promote those shoes. Then it moved into two fashion designers and slowly became the new trend. The shoes have passed a certain point in popularity and reached its peak, they tipped.

When in New York the cities began to look like ghosts, murders and serious crimes where very high, suddenly within 5 years were overthrown. Crime dropped significantly and cities began returning to normal. What happened was that there was a decline in crime.

The rises of Hush Puppies and fall in crime rate in New York are purely examples of epidemics in action. The features are: a) Transmissibility, b) small changes produce large effects and c) they occurred at dramatic moments, very fast. A dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change with one is called the tipping point.

Epidemics are an example of geometric proportions. The probability of sudden changes is in the center of the concept of critical point and could well be the most difficult of all to accept.

Furthermore the author analyses the three rules of epidemics: the law of the few, the stickiness factor and the power of context. The idea of ​​the importance of assimilation to the reversal has huge implications for how we regard social epidemics as well. It means that a message has an impact and you can¢t forget it. It remains in your memory. The stickiness factor says that there are specific ways you can make a contagious message memorable. The strength of the frame says that people are much more sensitive to their environment than they may seem.

The law of the few: It is a critical factor in epidemics that examines the nature of the messenger. The messengers that some specific characteristics can be either Connectors, Mavens, Salesmen and either can cause epidemics through word of mouth communication. The word of mouth communication is the most important form of human communication and the most convincing. Nevertheless it remains mysterious.

Also, the author describes some experiments and introduces concepts such as the concept of 6 degrees of separation. The 6 degrees of separation means that a small number of people connected to the rest with a few steps and the rest of us are connected to the world through those few special people. The social circle we are not really round but pyramid on top is only one person is responsible for most friends and acquaintances that make up our lives. These people are Connectors, people with special gifts that connect the world. Students do not have such a great circle known as the forties have. Between the ages of 20 and 40 the number of people which we know is almost doubled. In every social network there are some Connectors. The bonding push is one of many personal traits that distinguish one human being from the other. The point about Connectors is that by belonging to many different social worlds can bring them together, to link them.

Mavens are people who accumulate knowledge and they are somehow experts to a topic. Mavens are not passive collectors of information, are individuals who have information about many products, prices and locations and they like to talk with consumers and respond to requests. Also, they are socially motivated and they are frantic readers. Mavens are people who want to solve the problems of others by solving their own and opposite. They can start an epidemic because of their knowledge but will be particularly important in how they attract the attention of others to get their message across.

Connectors can give advice on the market but few will accept it, and when Mavens give an advice, then all those who have been told they will accept it. Mavens are data banks but cannot persuade. Even though there are good teachers and good students as well. The Connectors are social glue and disseminate information. Of course, both have the power of word of mouth.

On the other hand we have the Salesmen who have a kind of physical overabundance and have the ability to persuade. A person can persuade through the expression of his face and through the movements of his body. The characteristics that make Salesmen so effective are: a) small things can, obviously, make a difference as large so they make the same efforts towards achieving them, b) non-verbal cues are as important as verbal, i.e., the physical movements and observations can have a profound effect on how we feel and think and c) persuasion often works in ways that we don¢t appreciate. So, what makes someone persuasive is not only because of the obvious features but also of some thin, hidden and irrational features.

The author introduces, also, the concept of the interactive mechanism. This means that in a conversation that moves from all the parts of human body, are synchronized and work in harmony as if they are dancing. When someone has a strong personality and conviction you can lure others to his own rhythms.

Another concept is the motor mimicry. People tend to imitate the faces of people who see e.g. smile, grin. This is empathy, in other words we imitate the emotions of others as a way to communicate with them. Imitation is, also, a way to broadcast your feelings. Emotions are contagious. If you transmit a feeling like smile, then you make others feel happy, but only gifted people can influence the emotions of others.

Then, author analyses the second rule of epidemics, the stickiness factor which says that ideas must be memorable and to move us into an action so they can be saved in our mind. The content of the message is as important as messengers. The messages are remembered well when they move people into action. Children continue to watch a program when they have an interest and when they understand it, but they look elsewhere when they are bored and confused. The participation, repetition and long pauses are important components so that can be stick in the children mind the message that we try to pass to them.

The third rule of epidemics is the power of context (the strength of the frame). Epidemics are sensitive to conditions and circumstances of the times and places involved. We are more than sensitive to environmental changes.

The impetus for participation in a particular kind of behavior does not come from specific types of people but by the characteristics of the environment. The theory of broken glass coincides with the theory of the frame. In other words little things are those which have real value. No need to solve the big problems to solve e.g. crime, but solving the problems of small individual you would succeed. The essence of the power of context is that the same things are true for certain kinds of environments. When we think only in terms of innate traits and forget the role of circumstances, then deceive ourselves about the real causes of human behavior. The reason that most of us have a consistent character is because most of us are good to control our environment.

When we are trying to make an idea or an attitude or a product to tip then we are trying to change our audience, i.e. we try to pollute people, to put them in the epidemic, we convert them from hostility to acceptance. Small changes in our framework can be equally important in creating epidemics, even if this violates some of the most well-established assumptions about human nature. The strength of the frame says that the critical points or tipping points can be as simple and trivial everyday items such as disturbance. Once we understand that the framework assumes that the specific and relatively small elements in the environment can serve as tipping points. The characteristics of the immediate, social and physical world play an important role in shaping who we are and how we act.

According to the Rule 150, if you want the groups to broadcast messages then you should keep them below 150. Passing the critical line of 150 there will be structural barriers to the ability of the consensus group.

Developing relationships is often viewed as a process of mutual self-revelation. When people know each other well then they create a possible shared memory based on a perception of who is most likely to remember what kind of things. The shared memory is part of intimacy.

In conclusion, Malcolm Gladwell in his book tries to explain that major changes happen when things reach a critical point. There is a simple way to collect information under appropriate circumstances to make the message compelling. But you have to find it. It also gives information about how advertising would be effective and in general, marketing. Through many examples of companies, television programs, psychological testing, etc., he is trying to convince us about the three rules of epidemics that he supports. Of course, it's a little hard to understand that a critical point can bring a change.

I agree on several points raised by the author as the need to see the world differently, i.e., from different angles, that the environment affects the individual, that small things and small incremental changes can make a difference because according to Badaracco within the organization small changes can change the culture of the organization. I got enough and I enjoyed reading the book but there are many ideas and concepts that I lost the true meaning and the idea that he wants to pass and how all these are related to stick something in the consumers¢ minds.

There are lots of staff that businesses can do to communicate a message to the consumer, but it is important to notice how they would stick the message to mind because it is likely to engage in immoral acts and seduction of the public. Nobody wants to watch a program or an advertisement in the television and magnetized by them. Companies should choose fair and ethical ways to promote their products and consumers should be more critical.

Also, the author, according the examples that he mention in his book, analyses the factors he sees that affect a company or a program or crime. I would like to know, also, the other factors that existed because it might be a set of factors that led to reversal over the years. I would expect even more examples to convince myself on the rules that the author analyses in his book. Nevertheless I would suggested to readers to buy the book because there are several strong points and things the readers might not know or not be linked in their minds in the way that the author did. I think it's important to know in which angle some people perceive and interpret different situations.

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