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The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The full title of this book by Malcolm Gladwell is

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

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book Three Stars.

Here is my review.

An extremely padded version of how ideas can build slowly and suddenly take-off

I started this book several times but it seems a conundrum about why a book about viral ideas wasn’t able to hold my attention when everyone else was rushing to read it.

The main idea is that ideas, trends and social behaviours can cross a threshold. Before the threshold, growth is slow but after the threshold – or tipping point – growth becomes exponential.

The three critical concepts that the Tipping Point are based on are:
1 – The law of the few – how connectors (people who know a lot of other people), mavens (trusted experts) and salesmen (evangelists) can spread ideas quickly and effectively.
2 – The stickiness factor of the idea – how well the concept is able to stay true and pass from one to another.
3 – The power of context – how the idea fits with the prevailing environment.

The book is certainly wide-ranging from innocent activities like educational TV for children through to how syphilis, crime and drug taking spread through disadvantaged communities. For me that was part of the problem. I was reading the book to learn about how business ideas can spread quickly and effectively. The book tells the story of Hush Puppies and Airwalk sneakers but I wanted more.

The heart of the book lies in the three factors which are little more than common sense. It is packed with thought-provoking studies of many different social issues but for some reason I found it much easier to put down than to pick up.

A book about compelling ideas should have been much more compelling to me but it has taken about five years to complete and about four sequences of starting and stopping. I finally took the book away on holiday with me, confident that such a popular book must contain secrets that I needed to know. Sadly after reading it, I don’t think it does.


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