The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell


The subtitle of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, is really what the book is about. Most events start out with little things and then a step at a time a point is reached when big consequence follows.  At the point that the little things cause change, the tipping point is reached. The question that follows is how to identify when that point will be reached.

Gladwell says that the three components of the Tipping Point, or three agents of change, are “The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor, and The Power of Context”.

 "The Law of the Few" is really the 80/20 principle where 20% of the people involved in a project will bring about 80% of the results. Gladwell says that the key is in understanding the skill sets of the 20% and if enough individuals with the needed skill set is working on the project.

“The Stickiness Factor” has to do with the message of the project.  What is it about a message that will makes it memorable. Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues use of repetition in their characters and the result is an enhancement of retention. 

“The Power of Context”, Gladwell says, has to do with influences on human behavior and the changes as one moves from birth through adulthood. Age, genetics, thoughts, feelings combine to reveal attitudes and values.

The tipping point looks for those times when an idea, trend, or social behavior spreads like wildfire. It is the boiling point, when ideas take off. Gladwell takes this phenomenon and shows how he thinks it is changing the way people think about change.

Quotes by Malcolm Gladwell

“There is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is find it.”

 “Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not, With the slightest push — in just the right place — it can be tipped.” 

“The idea that epidemics can rise or fall in one dramatic moment — is the most important, because it is the principle that… permits the greatest insight into why modern change happens the way it does.” 

 “When it comes to epidemics, though, this disproportionality becomes even more extreme; a tiny percentage of people do the majority of the work.” 

“To create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.”