SPaMCAST 756 welcomes back Paul Gibbons. In this visit, we discuss his new book Change Myths: The Professional’s Guide to Separating Sense from Nonsense which he co-authored with Tricia Kennedy. I have described Paul’s new book as a Trojan horse. While it dispels myths it more importantly provides the tools for critical thinking which will allow you to tackle new myths as they appear.

Pau’s bio:

Paul Gibbons is an author, academic, speaker, and business consultant He has authored numerous books, including Change Myths: The Professional’s Guide to Separating Sense from Nonsense and The Science of Successful Organizational Change, He lives in the Denver area with his two sons and enjoys playing poker, chess, and other mind sports. 

Play Now!

The Podcast this week features my interview with Unmesh Srivastava. We talked about organizational culture and disrupting health care through development that is customer-focused. We also spent time discussing the need for empathy in order to find critical business needs. Unmesh points out that many times technologists think with their technology before they think with their hearts. 


One of the classic change anti-patterns from time immemorial is the pronouncement from on high that “we are going to be  _____” — you fill in the blank. I have seen this pattern repeated over and over across my career.  I will even admit to having been a participant in programs based on this antipattern. Reflecting on pronouncement driven change, I would suggest that most of these changes have no long term staying power. Almost every change in this category declared “done” failed as soon as leadership attention moved on. The force of the pronouncement that “we are agile” was never enough to sustain change. Legitimacy is a critical component for why change programs or transformations flame out or survive after the victory party.


Tugboat in the Chicago River

Tugboats have to be dependable and reliable.

While I was contemplating the discussion of the second of the three core capabilities for teams to prosper after the COVID-19 lockdowns are lifted, I got an email from a friend asking why I did not think the business environment would return to where it was a few months ago. While reading my friend’s email, I got a breaking news text reporting the World Monetary Fund saying they expect one of the steepest recessions on record.  Last evening I read a piece from Goldman Sachs discussing whether the slowdown would follow a V or U pattern (the U pattern will take longer to recover). The experts all agree that the future will be different. In any scenario, there will be dislocations and a new reality; that new reality will require teams to prosper. Teams that focus on an outcome of efficiency, dependability, and effectiveness will have the clearest path. One positive is that all of the core characteristics are demonstrable.  (more…)

Direct Playback
Subscribe: Apple Podcast
Check out the podcast on Google Play Music

SPaMCAST 582 features our interview with Paul Gibbons.  We discussed his new book IMPACT: 21st Century Change Management, Behavioral Science, Digital Transformation, and the Future of Work (Leading Change in the Digital Age). The interview started by exploring the high-level factors that influence change and then spun down into areas such as the future of work, biases, and de-biasing. This is the second book in the series he began with  The Science of Successful Organization Change which we discussed on SPaMCAST 480. The ideas that Paul shares are thought-provoking and will improve how you think about change.  

Pau’s bio: (more…)

Book Cover


This week we re-read Chapter 3 of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. One of the core themes in this chapter is the concept of ego depletion.  Ego depletion is a theory that self-control, as a form of system 2 thinking, draws from a finite pool of mental resources. When the pool is low, so is self-control. I did some research on the topic and the evidence is mixed whether there is an ego depletion impact. Regardless, from the point of view of Chapter 3 the idea is that heavy mental and physical loads on a person spread their ability to think and make decisions thin is not a stretch (and we should not expend a significant cognitive load on the topic). Whether the triggering mechanism is ego depletion or something else is not as important as the observable impact – when people are under mental stress they don’t always make the most thoughtful decisions.    (more…)

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.


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…)