The book review leads to creation 4 The Tipping Point / A book review by Takao Osawa, General Manager of Hitachi Design Division



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

A book review by Takao Osawa, General Manager of Hitachi Design Division 


For a small change to create a large current 

As the standard two-child family has declined in Japan, and the number of single resident households has become the majority today, lifestyle values have also diversified. In the marketplace, conventional value-zone products are not selling well, but high-end connoisseur products and low-price items such as those in 100-yen shops are, and moreover, as long tail business models have formed due to the advancement and diffusion of the Internet, consumers are now able to search and acquire the products they like. Large trends have become invisible as if they have undergone cell division and today’s trend has become such that there are numerous fine and minute currents like capillary vessels. However, there are cases in which small flows suddenly enlarge due to some trigger and emerge in front of us.

The author uses the term “tipping point” to indicate this dramatic moment of an idea, trend, or social movement suddenly overflowing the bank and spreading like wildfire. This book observes various events in which such small changes of something tipping suddenly spread like explosive epidemics and lead to great results. It introduces not only hit products, and popular TV programs, but also such events and phenomena as the success of the American independence revolution, and infections of HIV and syphilis. Gladwell analyzes these phenomena from unconventional angles and sheds light on the mechanism of infections and of propagation. 

Gladwell wondered whether it would be possible to intentionally infect the market with an idea or product in the way an epidemic spreads as the function of three factors: the pathogen carrier, the pathogen itself, and the environment in which the pathogen proliferates. He then assumes that the tipping point is first initiated definitively by the grapevine of a small number of people such as the connectors, the mavens who are familiar with the field, and salesmen. He also believes the message itself has to have an informational structure or expression that sticks in people’s memory, and discusses the effect of the environment and groups that cause changes in the behavior of people who receive the information.

Today, corporations are pouring great efforts and money into creating services that the consumers want and brands that appealingly convey their virtues as global competition escalates and product commodification progresses. However, by grasping the know-how to trigger the tipping point and cause a small change with a strong conviction in innovation, it may be possible to make things move in a more positive direction in a domino-type effect. Today, however, there are no such insightful connectors in corporations, and as long as such related divisions as planning, design, production and sales withdraw into their own roles and remain preoccupied by their bystander consciousness, their powerful driving force will be dampened and will not generate any substantial results. This book also provides many suggestions as a business guide that can steer projects towards success. (from AXIS vol. 134)

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