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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
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September 2020: Psychological > [Poll Ballot] The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - 4 stars

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Joy D | 4055 comments The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell - 4 stars - My Review

This book deals with epidemics, both medical and social. It explains the principles of epidemic transmission. Gladwell uses examples such as syphilis, suicide, AIDS, teenage smoking, and crime reduction. He looks at how and why certain products “catch on” in popular culture. He examines advertising methods and receptivity to new ideas.

Gladwell explains the differences between connectors, mavens, salesmen, & translators. I am particularly interested in psychology and sociology, and this book relates the results of a variety of studies. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the psychological concepts behind childhood learning, and how the concepts of stickiness and context were used in the creation of Sesame Street and Blues Clues.

Published in 2001, it is a little dated, with references to letters, fax machines, 1-800 numbers, and Rolodexes. The author includes an Afterward to address some questions he has been asked since publication. It could use further updating, especially with regard to the pervasive use of social media. It would be interesting to find out what Gladwell thinks about the current pandemic.


message 2: by NancyJ (last edited Sep 20, 2020 09:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5692 comments Great review. This book had a strong impact on my thinking when it first came out, and it helped nudge my research and my career in a new direction (toward change management). I loved the epidemiology ideas applied to the spread of ideas, attitudes, and beliefs. I think he was talking about social networks (with connectors, translators, etc.) before the term "social networking" was applied to the internet. (I have several books about social networking and social capital that have nothing to do with facebook, etc.)

I would love to read an updated book with newer examples, but sometimes we can learn a lot from how things changed in the past. I would also love to read a book like this with examples of major social changes, such as attitudes about civil rights, suffrage, and gay marriage. 100 years ago, some suffragettes reached out to politician's wives. In the 1970's ecologists made strides by working with teachers and children. We're seeing broader acceptance of ideas relating to Black Lives Matter, and even the Football league is finally on board, supporting tv specials on the topic. What else needs to be done to translate public support into concrete changes in policies, training, management practices, and systems. What could they apply by learning about Trump's election?

So many of us were shocked by Trump's election. I wondered when/how a tipping point occurred in his popularity. I learned a lot since then about the role of Russian hackers, Cambridge and Facebook, but there had to be a lot more happening that many of us ignored. Many of us are assuming he will not win the upcoming election, but we were confident about that in 2016 too.


Joy D | 4055 comments NancyJ wrote: "Great review. This book had a strong impact on my thinking when it first came out, and it helped nudge my research and my career in a new direction (toward change management). I loved the epidemiol..."
Thanks, Nancy. We have something in common - I worked for a while in change management, which is where I became interested in books such as this one. I am planning to seek out info from Gladwell and others to see what may be available on some of the current topics you mention.


Joy D | 4055 comments Thank you for the suggestions, Nancy. I will check them out.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5692 comments They might be too specific to OD work though. They don't have the broad applications of Tipping Point. Have you read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman? (His work was discussed in Covert Processes.) I put it off long enough. I need to read it in early 2021.


message 7: by Joy D (last edited Sep 24, 2020 11:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy D | 4055 comments NancyJ wrote: "They might be too specific to OD work though. They don't have the broad applications of Tipping Point. Have you read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman? (His work was discussed in ..."
Yes, I have read Thinking Fast and Slow. It has lots of good content. I've read a number of OD type books. I tend to space them out a bit. I took advantage of the psychological tag to read some of the Gladwell books I had been meaning to get to.


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