Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Tipping Point

I just finished reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell last week and it was a excellent read. this is a must read in my estimation and will require some serious thought, but thought that will be very beneficial. Here is my outline and implications from the book. (It ended up a bit longer that I would have liked.)


“Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.”

Three Characteristics: 1) contagiousness; 2) the fact that little causes can have big effects; 3) change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment.

One: The Three Rules of Epidemics

1. The Law of the Few:

Epidemics are a function of three things: 1) the people who transmit the infectious agent 2) the infectious agent itself; 3) the environment in which the infectious agent is transmitted.

Some people matter more than others. 80% of the people will do 20% of the work; 20% of the criminals will commit 80% of the crime; 20% of the beer drinkers drink 80% of the beer; this become even more extreme in relation to epidemics—a tiny percentage of the people do a majority of the work.

2. The Stickiness Factor:

Translates into the message making an impact. It is not only a matter of getting the message out there, but getting the right people to remember your message.

3. The Power of Context:

Epidemics are impacted by their environment. This is an exponential factor and human are much more susceptible to their environment that they seem.

Implications: 1. The community should expect a minority to do a majority of the work in building the body, but that does not mean that the minority does not participate. They will need leading in specific ways.

2. It is not necessarily who you are hitting with the message,, but hitting the right people in the right way.

3. If we are effected by context in more powerful ways that we realize then it is important to provide meaningful environments for believers and pre-believers.

Two: The Law of the Few: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen

1. Connectors –a small amount of people are connected to a large amount of people. They tend to “collect” people. It is very much ok for them to have many relationships where they rarely see that person. There is great strength in weak ties.

2. Mavens-connect people with new information. They are information specialist. They accumulate knowledge, but not in a passive way. They are passionate about sharing their new information with many different people. To be a Maven is to be a teacher.

3. Salesmen-has the skills to persuade us of what we are unconvinced of what we are hearing. Little things make a big difference in convincing a person, and a salesman knows what to do, when to say what, how to persuade and these skills can not be taught.

Three: The Stickiness Factor: Sesame Street, Blue’s Clues, and the Educational Virus

We catch much of what we don’t even pay attention to, especially if the material is in story form.

Implications: Be catchy and emanate what you believe. Tell stories about faith. Be a storyteller. And if we are not storytellers then we need to learn. Put the cookies on the bottom shelf and let the Spirit work.

Four: The Power of Context (Part One): Bernie Goetez and the Rise and Fall of New York City Crime

Implications: The little things matter. Start at the beginning and be dogmatic about maintaining the start of the epidemic. You can not let it loose ground. If there is no base then there will be no epidemic.

Five: The Power of Context (Part Two): The Magic Number of One Hundred and Fifty

“Once we are part of a group, we’re all susceptible to peer pressure and social norms and any number of other kinds of influence that can play a critical role in sweeping us up in the beginnings of an epidemic.” p.171

We can care for 10 to 15 people deeply and then after that we begin to overload. The larger the group gets the more complex. Humans naturally top out in the complexity of relationship at about 150 people. After that there has to be superficial organization put in place to maintain the organization. We can have a genuine social relationship (knowing who that person is and how they relate to us) with about 150 people. A group of 150 or less is controlled by personal loyalties and direct man-to-man contact.

Implications: Should we be building smaller churches or larger churches? Should there be a max? Does it come naturally? I can ask questions about this all day and I probably need to…

Six: Case Study: Rumors, Sneakers, and the Power of Translation

People can be grouped into four groups—Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority. The important thing is that they all play off of one another and feed into each other. The Innovators assume the risk, the Early Adopters are the opinion leaders in the community who analyze what the Innovators did and relay it to the community. The Early Majority is the mass of people and the Late Majority are the skeptical who see no urgent reason for change.

“What Mavens and Connectors and Salesmen do to an idea in order ot make it contagious is to alter it in such a way that extraneous details are dropped and others are exaggerated so that the message itself comes to acquire a deeper meaning.”

Implications: Who are you in the formation of the church and who should you be; Innovator, Early Adopter, Early Majority or Late Majority?

How does this relate to the Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen?

Seven: Case Study: Suscide, Smoking, and the Unsticky Cigarette

Our peer group is the most infectious community we belong to; not our family like has so long been believed.

Implications: Where you belong matters a great deal. Cheers theme song in the back ground and think of a group yelling out "Norm!"

Eight: Conclusion: Focus, Test, and Believe

*Word of mouth epidemics begin in modesty. .

1. “Starting epidemics requires concentrating resources on a few key areas. The Law of the few says that Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen are responsible for starting word-of-mouth epidemics, which means that if you are interested in starting a word-of-mouth epidemic, your resources ought to be solely concentrated on those three groups.”

2. You have to test your intuitions. The world does not think the way we think it does.

Implications: Focus and be intentional.

What are your thoughts?

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