Discover why behavioural change can be infectious

You should know what your manager is reading: it helps you understand what they are thinking and explains why they are saying the things they do. If you are a senior manager you definitely want to know what your chief executive is reading. One book still topping the list is The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

What makes some ideas catch on and spread? According to Gladwell it all depends on whether they reach the tipping point. That is when something gathers so much momentum it multiplies like a virus, exploding like an epidemic and infecting a huge proportion of the population.

Wouldn’t it be useful if we could identify how this happens and then apply it to changing people’s behaviour, whether that is changing the culture within an organisation or persuading people to adopt a healthier lifestyle? Gladwell’s examples include changes in social behaviour - for example the drop in violent crime in New York.

But it is his example of the rebirth of Hush Puppies that gives the game away. The tipping point explains changes in social behaviour in terms the fashion industry would understand. Why do some clothes become fashionable when they do not have a big marketing budget? Answer: some fashion comes from the street, it catches on and spreads at grass roots level long before it is picked up by the fashion industry. How can you identify which items will catch on?

The book promises much but in the end it disappoints. Read the first chapter and you have it all - the rest is just padding.

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