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…)

Direct Playback

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

Listen on Spotify!

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.

Listen Now
Subscribe: Apple Podcast
Check out the podcast on Google Play Music

SPaMCAST 503 features our essay “Culture: The Knife’s Edge of Change.”  I have often heard the line, culture eats change for breakfast. Culture, culture, culture – the success of every change that is considered or implemented balances on the knife edge of culture. Aligning cultures so that change is possible requires seeing the differences and then minimizing enough of those differences to allow change to happen.

We also have an installment of the Alpha and Omega of Product Development with Jon M Quigley.  In this installment of Jon’s wonderful column, we discuss the muda of underutilizing people. Muda, waste, is not just generated through process or transforming raw material.  

We conclude with a visit with Gene Hughson.  We discuss an entry from his Form Follows Function Blog titled: “When asked for the time, don’t explain how your watch works”. Communications between the user and technical domains is fraught with difficulties. A problem? As Gene always says,  “exactly!”

Re-Read Saturday News

We will complete our re-read of Turn The Ship Around next week with a few final thoughts.  The next book in the series will be The Checklist Manifesto  (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) by Atul Gawande. Today we complete re-reading the chapters in  L. David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around!  Chapter 28, 29 and Afterthoughts complete Marquet’s reflection on the leader-leader model and his journey of discovery.

Current Installment:

Week 18: A New Method of Resupplying and Ripples  – https://bit.ly/2mgVFtI (more…)

Bottles of bacon and chicken wing soda

Bacon and Buffalo Chicken Wing Soda – things have to change!

Culture is a reflection of how the people within an organization act. The culture is protected by peer pressure and the processes, procedures and policies teams and organizations enact and enshrine. Overall organizational culture is difficult to change. Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick, would call culture “sticky.” One major reason culture is sticky and generates defense mechanisms is that once a culture is entrenched those people that are inside the culture become comfortable. They understand how to make the culture work.  Organizations also find how to make culture work. Alignment to culture fosters higher worker satisfaction, more employee engagement, higher productivity and employee retention. Cultural fit matters to organizations and to individuals.  The dark side of cultural alignment (all forces need to have balance) is that cultural alignment can lead to stagnation and low levels of innovation. As we have noted in the past, “culture eats change for breakfast.”  New organizations establishing a culture and organizations and cultures that have generated hardened boundaries will have several levels of defense beginning with hiring for culture. Culture guides information sharing, how work is done and how individuals and groups interact therefore directly impact value delivery at a team and organization level. Cultures that generate prescriptive processes, procedures, and policies and then make adaptation difficult make change and innovation hard. (more…)

Edge and point of a knife

The knifes edge!



Culture, culture, culture – the success of every change that is considered or implemented balances on the knife edge of culture. Culture not important enough?  Then remember, culture guides what work gets done and how that work is done. Culture is a summation of all of the things we use to distinguish one group from another.  The more significant the difference is perceived, the more drastic we will perceive the culture difference. Differences invite comparison which reduces trust and generates resistance to change   Aligning cultures so that change is possible requires seeing the differences and then minimizing enough of those differences. Culture is shaped or shapes many common organizational attributes, including: (more…)