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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000)

by Malcolm Gladwell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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19,368304162 (3.84)222
New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell looks at why major changes in our society so often happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Ideas, behavior, messages, and products, he argues, often spread like outbreaks of infectious disease. These are social epidemics, and the moment when they take off, when they reach their critical mass, is the Tipping Point.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 297 (next | show all)
All creators want to see their finished products get broad attention. This book investigates that illusive point where things fall in line, momentum begins to build and success is inevitable. Like with other Gladwell books, The Tipping Point is peppered with stories that seem unrelated at first, but are always brought back to the central theme (something I wish I was as good at). It's an entertaining book, and an informative book, but I felt it was missing a way to FIND a tipping point. ( )
  adamfortuna | May 28, 2021 |
A colleague recommended this book to me many years ago but you know how it goes - it was ages before I spotted it one day in a secondhand bookshop and bought it, and even longer before I decided to dust it off the TBR shelf. It's now 20 years old, which makes me wish I'd picked it up earlier so the content would have felt a little more 'now', but nonetheless it makes for a very interesting read.

In this book Gladwell investigates why small things can hit tipping points which have a big impact, and he determines that at least one of three rules must apply: The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context.

The Law of the Few focuses on connectors and the notion that a small percentage of people who are serial connectors are pivotal in creating change and tipping points. If Gladwell was writing this book today there's no doubt that his example mavens would include social media influencers, but back in 2000 Instagram and Facebook were yet to be thought up so Gladwell's examples includes the good old days of street trends when a handful of cool kids in East Village and Soho were responsible for transforming the almost dead Hush Puppies brand into the new must have footwear of choice with annual sales of over 1 million pairs. I liked that example - it made me feel nostalgic for my youth when we were influenced by the cool kids rather than some Botoxed tanorexic off some crap reality TV show.

The Stickiness Factor says that there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable through relatively small changes in presentation and structuring of information. This chapter focused on what made Sesame Street work a game-changer in the world of children's education via TV in its day, and also the new learnings from child psychology that eventually made it redundant. This chapter I found less engaging than the others - there's only so much Sesame Street talk I can handle before I glaze over.

Finally, the Power of Context looks at how people's behaviour is a lot more sensitive to their environment that most of us realise. An example given is the murder of Kitty Genovese when 38 people watched her being attacked from their windows yet not a single one called the police. The argument of the Power of Context is that it is because 38 people were watching that no one called the police. Everyone assumed that someone else would, and ironically if only 1 or 2 people had witnessed her attack the chances of the police being called would have been much higher.

Another fascinating example was the sharp decrease in crime in New York in the 1990s, which resulted from a number of small changes. One theory which resulted in a massive drop in crime was the law of broken windows, which states that if one broken window is left unreplaced this will create an environment that makes it more acceptable to break further windows. The New York subway was transformed by implementing policies on the back of this theory, replacing graffiti covered cars with new carriages which were inspected each time they reached the end of the line and taken out of service until every piece of new graffiti had been removed. Other changes were implemented in the subway as well (such as cracking down on fare dodgers), and collectively a new message of zero tolerance resulted in a rapid decrease in subway crime.

I really enjoyed this book; it was interesting to read about why new ideas do or don't become contagious (and relevant for my work). Although Gladwell's examples are not current, the principles behind them are still sound, and his case studies were still hugely interesting.

4 stars - informative and thought-provoking analysis that is well researched and thought out. ( )
  AlisonY | Mar 24, 2021 |
In this book, Malcolm Gladwell explores the concept of the "tipping point", that moment when an idea, a product or a mode of behaviour becomes suddenly - and sometimes spectacularly - successful. Gladwell identifies three elements which he believes are necessary for this to happen : (i) influential individuals who "spread the word" (what he calls "the law of the few") (ii) an attractiveness intrinsic in the "message" or idea (its "stickiness") (iii) the environment or "context" which can, in subtle and effective ways, lead to a "tipping point". Gladwell then delves into each of these three elements, illustrating them with several examples and anecdotes taken from the fields of social psychology, history, economics and anthropology.

This is not the book I'd generally read. However, it was given to me as a Christmas present (together with another two Gladwell books) and I surprised myself by eagerly lapping it up in a couple of days. Are Gladwell's theories "verifiable"? I honestly don't know, and there might be other writers out there who hold very different views. However, the book's arguments are certainly laid out lucidly and convincingly. And Gladwell does know how to tell a good story, making what could have been a dry, theoretical book really "stick". ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
Sheesh, I so enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's books, and this might be my favorite yet. Maybe in just a few small ways, he makes this mysterious thing called life a little bit more understandable.

If you're new to Gladwell, he has a particular style. Specifically he weaves the most captivating stories together to come to important sociological conclusions. It's so much fun!

In The Tipping Point Gladwell explores the "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point" where big changes occur. In other words, why things become viral. And he explains why. (Wikipedia has a pretty good summary actually.)

In short there are three rules:
1. The Law of the Few: where he looks at connectors (super well connected folks), mavens (informed specialists), and salespersons (charismatic persuaders).
2. The Stickiness Factor - how impactful a particular message is. In particular he explored Seasame Street and Blue's Clues for being sticky for children.
3. The Power of Context - here he looks at how context influences behavior, namely the "bystander effect," group influences (John Wesley and the Ya-ya sisterhood), and the "rule of 150."

The particular things from the book that stand out are his theory for why New York City had such drastic reduction in crime. Basically, the city spent billions to make the subways cleaner, which makes people less likely to commit crimes. It sounds oversimplified, actually my description is wildly inadequate. (Search for "the broken windows theory" for more.) That said, the idea that beauty begets beauty sticks for me.

Second - he looked at the epidemic of teen suicides in micronesia, and in the afterward compares it to school shootings in the US. Definitely the most compelling theory for mass violence I've heard.

All-in-all, a wonderful, enlightening read that I may read again. His books aren't ones that I'd buy though, partly because every library in world has one, but they feel like a novel almost or maybe a compilation of short stories that are strung together to form big ideas. ( )
  nrt43 | Dec 29, 2020 |
Gladwell considers spread of trends, disease, social problems, and social problem fixes as epidemics. Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen are needed to spread the word to the masses. ( )
  Mike_B | Oct 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 297 (next | show all)
I wish Malcolm Gladwell had chosen to use his considerable skills as a journalist to describe more examples of actual tipping points. In reaching instead for theory, he reaches well beyond where he, or anyone else, can safely travel.
 
What Mr. Gladwell has to say is instructive. If he hasn't got all the answers, he certainly offers a fresh way of looking at the problems.
 
Gladwell's narrative voice is so chummy and seductive, it's easy to get drawn into his worldview.
 
But still: $1 million ... Here's a tip: Don't believe the hype.
 
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is both interesting and engaging. It is a medicine chest of a book, full of seemingly unrelated concoctions, each available for strategic application to manipulate the equilibrium.
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gladwell, MalcolmAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gladwell, MalcolmNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sandin, GunnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my parents,
Joyce and Graham Gladwell
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For Hush Puppies -- the classic American brushed-suede shoes with lightweight crepe sole -- the Tipping Point came somewhere between late 1994 and early 1995.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell looks at why major changes in our society so often happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Ideas, behavior, messages, and products, he argues, often spread like outbreaks of infectious disease. These are social epidemics, and the moment when they take off, when they reach their critical mass, is the Tipping Point.

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Hachette Book Group

5 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0316346624, 0316316962, 1586217453, 1570427933, 1600240054

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