Monday, 4 August 2008

The creation of social tipping points: Rethinking influence (Part 2) – from the second edition of Viral Change™ (2008)

The next blog entries over the next weeks will feature some added pages to Viral Change – Second edition which will be in the market towards mid August. This is part 2 of these series

In my experience, there are four main mechanisms to create social tipping points:

The Opinion Leader model. Social infection starts with a small group of people who have a high level of influence through what they say, how they say it, the rationale behind it and what they do. At macro-social level, these people can be found, for example, in scientific communities where, as I have described before, a Matthew Effect is obvious. Similar models can be found in community leadership, religion or political life. Within the organisation there are always ‘opinion leaders’, even if those opinions are exercised in the post room or the cafeteria. In some cases you can jot down the names easily; in others, ‘opinion leaders’ are more subtle and perhaps hidden. The Change Champions described in the next chapter fall under this criterium. In Viral Change™, we use this model extensively, ‘creating’ a Change Champions’ engine by finding its membership. In the Opinion Leader model, social tipping points occur when a critical mass is influenced and ‘changed’ by the Change Champions’ activity (their endorsement of the changes needed, their articulation of the facts, their activist behaviour and their viral leadership – see later in the book). In a simplistic way, the change equation here is:

Opinion Leaders X Critical Mass = Change

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