The Tipping Point - How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference


Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Edition: 2002
ISBN: 0-316-34662-4

This book is about how trends are sparked and take hold. Gladwell assets that there are a number of patterns and factors that are at play. He uses the book to explain the mechanism in-depth. Based on his in- depth research he identifies three key factors that play a role in determining whether a particular trend will „tip‟ into wide scale popularity- Law of the Few, Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context.

The Law of the Few contends that before widespread popularity can be attained, a few key types of people must champion an idea, concept or product before it can reach the tipping point. Gladwell describes these key types as Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. If individuals representing all three of these groups endorse and advocate a new idea, it is much more likely that it will tip into exponential success.

Gladwell defines the Stickiness Factor as the quality that compels people to pay close, sustained attention to a product, concept or idea. Stickiness is hard to define, and its presence or absence often depends heavily on context. Often, the way that the Stickiness Factor is generated is unconventional, unexpected, and contrary to received wisdom.

The concept that Gladwell terms the Power of Context is enormously important in determining whether a particular phenomenon will tip into widespread popularity. Even minute changes in the environment can play a major factor in the propensity of a given concept attaining the tipping point. Also, Gladwell defines the term context very broadly, discussing the implications of small variations in social groups and minor changes in a neighbourhood or community environment as shifts that can cause a new idea to tip.

After identifying and describing these key concepts, Gladwell dedicates the remainder of the book to illustrating them and their interdependency in a series of compelling case studies and examples. An afterword included in the newest edition of the book updates some of Gladwell‟s arguments for more pertinent application in the era of widespread Internet connectivity.