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This archive will stay here - but you can find new posts (as well as this archive) at my new website which is at It's the new home for Stuart Eglin Online - including the blog, musings, and details of the publications and services which I have available. Take a look - it's worth a visit!

Tuesday, 6 July 2004

The Tipping Point

I promised a review of 'The Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell. It's a magnificent book - one of those books that you find yourself quoting bits from to people through the course of the day. It describes the phenomenon whereby things can grow from nothing to a craze in an unbelievably short space of time. He attributes this to a number of factors, issues which are important to understand if you are interested in building communities of interest, marketing an idea or just want to understand why something goes from being unfashionable to being the 'must have' without any apparent involvement from 'marketeers' or sellers.

Gladwell covers a set of key principles and issues, looking at the roles of different types of people in building networks, communicating messages etc. He also looks at the importance of numbers - the maximum numbers for a circle of intimate friends, and for our circle of influence. He talks about the number 150 as key to manageable groups, organisations and societal sections. This is really interesting. What about the current trend towards ever bigger schools and hospitals? Is it any wonder that these organisations become dysfunctional when they are not organised around core units of 150 with strong identities for each.

The case study which looked at policing in New York, and the way they turned that city round from a lawless chaos to one where things were rapidly coming under control again, is fascinating reading. I hadn't seen it that way - a different and convincing view is always worth looking at.

The book is light on references, and attributes for the theory underpinning the work. But I think it is a better book for that - it is so readable.

I will never look at Hush Puppies the same way again.

Go get it! And enjoy it, I'm sure you will.

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