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The Tipping Point – Book Review

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    The Tipping Point is well written and expertly researched. Malcolm Gladwell has triumphed in making his ideas accessible to all readers.

    The book is meticulous in its exploration of the ways in which ideas, trends and social behaviour spread through populations and the processes by which they cross a threshold or ‘tip’ and suddenly take off. He also examines why certain ideas or trends fail.

    So what is a Tipping Point and how can we define it? The Tipping Point is the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point. It is the name given to the dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change. This can be explained by looking at three main characteristics: 1.Contagiousness. 2. Little causes have big effects. 3. Change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment.

    The Tipping Point is useful in understanding the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves or the phenomena of word of mouth. Ideas, messages and behaviours spread just like viruses.

    The three rules of the Tipping Point; the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context offer a way of making sense of epidemics. They provide us with a direction for how to go about reaching a Tipping Point. I will explain these in very brief detail as they are the three rules that the book hinges on.

    Law of Few; this revolves around the nature of the messenger, the exceptional people in this world who are capable of starting epidemics.

    The Stickiness Factor; there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable; there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a big difference in how much of an impact it makes.

    The Power of Context; Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur. Take for example the Broken Window theory. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no cares and nobody 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 goes.

    The book is laden with interesting and colourful anecdotes that we can all apply to our everyday lives. Whether you are looking to progress as an educator, parent or business professional then this is a useful book. What makes it even more satisfying is that all the studies are backed up with robust data and very intriguing outcomes.

    This book is for people of all ages that can read to a standard level and have a desire to expand their understanding of modern sociological theory. Even though Gladwell is an academic he doesn’t patronise the reader, he explains complex ideas and theories in a simple and succinct way maintaining a relaxed rhythmic style throughout.

    The book is laid out in eight concise and comprehensive chapters with a clear introduction. The End notes and Index sections are very well referenced and rich in detail, allowing the reader to explore any further ideas or topics they might want to research.

    The two main ideas that I have taken away with me from reading the Tipping Point:

    1.Is that the world, as much as we want it to, does not accord with our intuition. Those who are successful at creating social epidemics do not just do what they think is right. They deliberately test their intuition.

    2.Starting epidemics requires concentrating resources on a few key areas. The Law of the Few says that key personnel are responsible for starting word of mouth epidemics, which means that if you are interested in starting a word of mouth epidemic, your resources ought to be solely concentrated on those people.

    Book Rating: C1

    Practical – theoretical rating

    Very practical book, but based on theory 4
    Mainly practical book 3
    Mainly theoretical but some practice 2
    Good on theory but not a practical book 1

    Easy – difficult rating

    An easy read D
    Reasonably easy read C
    Requires concentration B
    Longish or requires quite a bit of effort A

    Title: The Tipping Point (how little things can make a big difference)

    Paperback: 279 pages

    Publisher: Little Brown – 2000

    Language: English

    ISBN: 978-0-349-11346-3

    Author: Malcolm Gladwell


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