Tipping Point

Today we conclude the re-read portion our tour through Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point by tackling both the conclusion and the afterword. The Tipping Point is a theory that viral change—epidemics, in Gladwell’s word—can be caused and shaped by few actions and people. The Law of the Few tells us that connectors, mavens and salespeople can affect whether or not a concept, idea or movement moves across the tipping point and becomes an epidemic.

Conclusion: (more…)

Tipping Point

Chapter 7 of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (remember to stop borrowing your best friend’s copy and buy a copy of the book for yourself!), is another case study. This time we explore the ideas of how tipping points happen by considering teen suicides and smoking. 

Let’s return to the subtitle of The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. In chapter 7 Gladwell uses the examples of teen suicide in Micronesia and teen smoking in the United States. The central idea in both examples is the role of permission-givers.  Permission-givers make a concept cool or interesting to a specific group of people through their actions. In the world of 2019, permission-givers leverage a wide range of social media platforms that were not as widespread when Gladwell wrote the book. The proliferation of social media has made the concept of permission-giving even more important to understand. In chapter 2, The Law of the Few, Gladwell described the role of the salesperson; a permission-giver is a specialized form of the salesperson. The salesperson/permission giver provides the connections to the people that can be most impacted by an idea which pushes an idea or activity over the tipping point. Permission is not a general invitation broadcast indiscriminately put a much more targeted communication to, in the case of suicide and smoking, to those that are most vulnerable. (more…)

Tipping Point

In Chapter Five of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (remember to stop borrowing your best friend’s copy and buy a copy of the book for yourself!), Gladwell uses the story of how the book Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood found its way over the tipping point as an example of the power of context.  Ya-Ya had a long glide path to a being a best seller, but once it started being read by groups such as book clubs or just mothers and daughters sales skyrocketed. The book evoked solidarity and linkages between groups of women. Gladwell links the explosion in sales to groups acting as super connectors.

In Chapter 2, The Law of the Few, Gladwell described how a connector could take an idea and spread it to many people.  Super connectors connect groups. Ya-Ya was the type of book that was read by groups (book clubs in this case) which made the book significantly stickier. Groups are powerful forces that act on how humans behave and think. Groups have social norms and apply pressure to hold members to the norms the group feels are important. The number of people in a group can impact how fast an idea moves is absorbed into the larger community.

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Tipping Point

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, Re-read Week 4 – Chapter 3: The Stickiness Factor

Chapter Three of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point is a reminder of why this book continues to be important and useful. The density of ideas in this chapter is amazing. Stop borrowing your best friends copy and buy a copy of the book for yourself!  

Chapter Two, The Law of the Few, describes the role of people in passing messages along.  Chapter Three tackles stickiness. Stickiness is the attribute that determines whether a message is heard and internalized. Messages that are heard and internalized stand a chance to be acted upon. In this chapter, Gladwell uses Sesame Street and Blues Clues as the vehicle to discuss how messages can be packaged to make them sticky.   (more…)

Tipping Point

This week we continue our re-read of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. In chapter two, Gladwell dives into the law of the few.  There are three types of people that are important to pushing an idea up to and over a tipping point: connectors, mavens, and salespeople.  All three are required. Remember to dust off your copy or buy a new copy and read along!

People are both the mechanism and the target for anyone trying either to understand why an idea crosses the tipping point or to push an idea across a tipping point.  Knowing who to influence or connect spells the difference between success and failure. Word-of-mouth is an extremely powerful effect, but just passing the information along one person at a time is not sufficient for getting an idea over the tipping point. People pass on all kinds of information all the time but only in rare instances does that exchange cause the idea to go viral. Gladwell theorizes that social epidemics happen because of the involvement of three types of people each with particular of social talents. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 531 features our essay on Balancing Control and Self-Organization to Avoid Heat Death.  Control and self-organization represent a classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears problem. We discuss whether there is a solution. Interested in more on this topic?  Other blog entries include:

Balancing Control and Self-Organization to Avoid Heat Deathhttps://bit.ly/2UnzfGu  

Balancing of Autonomy with Alignmenthttps://bit.ly/2Sg1xFy  

VUCA, Heat Death and Gray Goohttps://bit.ly/2RhlGq8

In the second spot this week we hear from Jon M Quigley who brings his Alpha and Omega of Product Development to the cast.  Jon discusses the impact of cognitive biases on product development. Fighting biases is an important role for product owners and developers alike. The fight is rarely easy.

Re-Read Saturday News
This week we begin our re-read of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. We are re-reading this book because it is important for any person involved in leading or participating in change (this is all of us).  Dust off your copy or buy a new copy.

Current entry:

Week 1 – Plans and Introductionhttps://bit.ly/2S8PPwc

Next SPaMCAST
SPaMCAST 532 will feature our interview with Julia Wester.  Julia returns to the cast to discuss her passion for the topic of spectrum thinking.  Rarely is using binary thinking the most effective path; however, it is rare to use spectrum thinking to address problems. Julia provides a path to more effective decision making.

 

A COE gone wrong?

Organizations implement Centers of Excellence (COE) for a variety of reasons. Not all reasons are created equal.  COE’s that are developed in a calm reasoned manner will tend to get the nuances right or discover and correct problems as they continuously improve. When COEs are put in place as a last ditch effort to save an initiative or generate an innovation that will save the organization, problems set in.  Typical indications that a COE will have problems (success anti-patterns) include:

  1. The COE is a hail mary pass (an act of desperation to achieve victory in the face of defeat).  As a general rule, hail mary passes rarely connect.
  2. The problem the COE is targeted at solving is not important to a substantial portion of the organization.  COEs are implemented as enterprise-wide

    initiatives.

  3. The COE is targeted at a localized problem.  COEs are most effective when used to fix an enterprise-wide problem.
  4. The COE and the solutions they develop do not have deep executive understanding and buy-in.
  5. The COE is underfunded. All types of COEs require resources, people, money and political capital to generate and guide change. Underfunding will also impact the caliber and quantity of the people that are part of the COE.  The bottom line, goal (stated or unstated) of all COEs is to affect change; change is not free. Note: In some very rare cases I have seen passion overcome funding (however the probability of this happening is lower than the average hail mary pass).
  6. The COE is viewed as an administrative necessity rather than a business imperative.  Administrative COEs will be buried deep in an organization rather than being elevated to the leadership levels of the organization.
  7. A lack of a demonstrable return on investment. COEs need to identify and measure their impact on the organization and, if possible, on the product/service the organization brings to market.  WIthout a demonstrable impact, the countdown clock for the dissolution of the COE is running.
  8. The COE’s goals, process, and collaboration approaches are intransigent in the face of a dynamic business environment.  COEs that lack the capability to evolve are more akin to timeboxed taskforces and will become irrelevant when their goal is achieved or changes.

COE’s, like any formal group within an organization, are political in nature.  They need a goal, they need to be able to show progress and impact, and they need to make a difference. Each of the seven items in the list is enough to critically wound any COE.  At the same time, being able to tick each box does not assure success. COEs must have the right people, the right political acumen and the passion to achieve their goal. The COE must demonstrably improve either the product or the process of building and delivering that product to survive.