Inflection Points

The Tipping Point

The critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place


Inflection Points. The Tipping Point.
The critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place. Graphic.

inflection point


Inflection Points - Overview

Inflection points occur when there is build up of forces, a critical mass, that lead to a spontaneous and often irreversible change of direction.

The word "inflection" is derived from the Latin "inflectere", meaning "to bend."

Example of inflection points are:

  • In business the point at which an issue, an idea, a concept, a product, crosses a certain threshold and achieves significant momentum that is triggered by some small factor or change.
  • In medicine, and taking the covid-19 pandemic as a good example, the point at which a minor development precipitates a crisis, such as every infected person brings us closer to the tipping point, when the outbreak becomes an epidemic.
  • In physics, the point at which an object is no longer balanced, and the addition of a small amount of weight causes it to topple.
  • In relationships, the point at which the accumulation of a number of negative behaviours and factors reaches a point of no return and one party terminates the relationship.


Shane Parrish of the excellent Farnam Street which focuses on mental models says:



    "Sometimes it can seem as if drastic changes happen at random.

    One moment a country is stable; the next, a revolution begins and the government is overthrown. One day a new piece of technology is a novelty; the next, everyone has it and we cannot imagine life without it. Or an idea lingers at the fringes of society before it suddenly becomes mainstream.

    As erratic and unpredictable as these occurrences are, there is a logic to them, which can be explained by the concept of critical mass. A collaboration between Thomas Schelling (a game theorist) and Mark Granovetter (a sociologist) led to the concept’s being identified in 1971.

    Also known as the boiling point, the percolation threshold, the tipping point, and a host of other names, critical mass is the point at which something (an idea, belief, trend, virus, behavior, etc.) is prevalent enough to grow, or sustain, a process, reaction, or technology.

    As a mental model, critical mass can help us to understand the world around us by letting us spot changes before they occur, make sense of tumultuous times, and even gain insight into our own behaviors. A firm understanding can also give us an edge in launching products, changing habits, and choosing investments.







Inflection Points in Groups Of People


mother jones

People in groups or crowds behave differently to how they behave as individuals.

Being part of a group causes people to be less inhibited, more rebellious, and more confident. This effect is also referred to as "mob behaviour".


Crowd Psychology And Change

The 19th century psychologist and sociologist Gustav Le Bon author of "The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind"  looked at the formation of critical masses of people required to ignite a change. Le Bon proposed the idea of a collective unconsciousness whereby individuals in a group become as “a grain of sand amid other grains of sand which the wind stirs up at will.”

Le Bon suggested that there are 3 key elements which create the critical mass required to ignite a change:

  • Anonymity
  • Contagion
  • Suggestibility

When all three elements are present, he proposed that a group loses its sense of self-restraint and behaves in a manner he considered to be more primitive than usual.

He also proposed that the strongest members (the early adopters] have power over the rest of the group.

Popular journalist Malcom Gladwell author of "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference"cites The Pareto Principle in which I looked at the famous 80/20 rule and made the point that within the critical change-making 20% there is smaller subset who are most responsible for instigating the change.


1% Of A Group Can Account For Over 50% Of The Effect On the Total Population

I referred to this as the Fat Tail Fractal Factor which basically means that the 80/20 rule can be applied to itself twice - which in this context means that 1% of a group can account for over 50% of the effect.

Gladwell states that there are 3 categories of people who are instrumental in the creation of tipping points and will likely fall within the 20%:

  • Connectors - These are highly gregarious, sociable people with large groups of friends. Gladwell defines connectors as those with networks of over one hundred people.
  • Mavens - These are the trusted experts who share their knowledge and insights who share information and pass on knowledge on through word of mouth.
  • Sales people -  The charismatic, slightly manipulative people who can, and do, persuade others to accept what they say.

10% Of A Population Is All That's Needed To Create A Critical Mass

According to research conducted by Professor Boleslaw Szymanski of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute the percentage of a population necessary to create a critical mass is 10%, he says:

"When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority. Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame."


The Intransigent Minority

Nassim Taleb writing about complex systems  takes this point a stage further with his thoughts on the "intransigent minority" and the "dominance of the minority"and proposes that this minority need be no larger than 3 or 4% of the whole population.

I put more weight behind his views than those of Le Bon and Gladwell because Taleb is [amongst other things] a mathematical statisitician. Interestingly, his 3 to 4% falls illustrates the point made above about the Fat Tail Fractal Factor - specifically the 80/20 rule applied to the 20% i.e. 20% of 20= 4%.


In Summary, All It Takes Is Between 4% and 10% Of Opinionated, Intransigent People To Form A Critical Mass and Create A Tipping Point In A Population

So to conclude, however you "slice and dice" this, somewhere between 4% and 10% of dominant, intransigent, opinionated people who contain some good communicators amongst their number is all it takes to effect a major change in a whole population - whether this constitutes a large group, a whole country or a group of countries.

In my view this is well illustrated by the influence over the past 10-20 years of the so called "liberal elite", and in more recent times "woke thinking" as epitomised by the "cancel culture" that is both endemic and systemic within Western universities, government and public life

Another example is the current dominance of the minority group "Black Lives Matter" who have hijacked and subverted the race agenda with their skewed viral narrative of the George Floyd tragedy.

N.B. You are perfectly entitled to disagree with me on any of these points as I am perfectly entitled to express my view on my own website.






Inflection Points in Personal Relationships


viva

Inflection points in personal relationships affects us all.

How many times in your life have your reached a tipping point in a relationship with someone where you finally decide that "enough is enough"?

In "Knowing When To Quit" I discussed 3 key questions to help you decide when to quit a job or a relationship:

  1. How much time are you willing to spend?
  2. How much money are you prepared to spend/lose?
  3. How much pain are you willing to put up with?

My personal view is that there is an important difference between quitting a project or a job and quitting a relationship:

  • Quitting a project or a job is about opportunity cost
  • Quitting a relationship is to do with toxicity

Over the years I have found that the point at which a personal relationship becomes toxic is the point at which to quit.

We all have different thresholds of what we find acceptable and can tolerate in relationships. Here are 3 examples of toxicity in relationships that I have experienced or observed up close.


Have predefined boundaries and "when to quit points"



    The best approach to anticipating your inflection points in personal relationships, and consciously knowing when to quit, is to have a predetermined set of "quitting criteria" which sets out certain key limits and boundaries beyond which you are not prepared to go.







Broken hearts and shattered dreams....



    The greater the potential benefit we stand to gain the longer we will consciously postpone the tipping point, and avoid taking action, by rationalising the other person's toxic behaviour.



Examples

He has the capacity to further your career or business interests.

# Ask yourself - has this relationship reached a level of toxicity where the pain outweighs the potential commercial gain?






She is so lovely and beautiful that you can't face not having her in your life.

# Ask yourself -  if this woman was physically unattractive how long would you tolerate the kind of behaviour she is inflicting on you?


 





You are in a situation where the sunk cost fallacy applies. In essence you feel that you have invested so much time, energy, money and/or love in someone and the longer you have been together the harder it is to break up... and it becomes a fallacy when it’s pushing you to do things that are making you unhappy or worse off.

# Ask yourself, if he/she had behaved like this in the early stages of your relationship - would you be still be together  now?






This one applies in mentoring situations and/or situations where your protective and supportive nature is heavily invested and your natural courtesy and your values keep you going longer than you should....

# Apply the "3 strikes and you quit" rule. If the other person has persistently continued with their toxic behaviour despite your requests for them not to behave like this then their behaviour shows their true current priorities, and to mix our metaphors, I would suggest that you stop "casting your pearls before swine".

[i.e. you are wasting your time by offering something that is helpful or valuable to someone who does not appreciate it or understand it.]





As a footnote, I have found that the older I get the less tolerant I become as I have seen it all before and recognise the patterns of behaviour earlier, plus life is so short and I want to optimise my time, my energy my friendship and my love.





Return from "Inflection Points" to: Mental Models



English Chinese (Traditional) Russian French German Italian Spanish Vietnamese


LATEST ARTICLES

  1. The Challenges Of The Road Less Traveled

    Issues You'll Face When Playing The Long Game. The challenges of the road less traveled is loosely based around the phrase popularised by M.Scott Peck with his book "The Road Less Traveled". This arti…

    Read More

  2. How To Benefit From the Unseen Margins - 5 Key Tips For Success

    These Unseen Margins Can Have A Very Dramatic Impact On Your Life. To understand how to benefit from the unseen margins we need to start by understanding what they are and where we find them. In this…

    Read More

  3. The Art Of Thinking Clearly - How To Do More Than Just Survive And Reproduce

    3 Key Tips The art of thinking clearly starts with the sobering realisation that our brains are designed to achieve two things: Survival and Reproduction! 98% of our thinking is unconscious, automatic…

    Read More

  4. Algorithms to Live By - 5 Useful Rules Of Thumb

    5 Useful Heuristics From Algorithms To Live By The thesis of the book "Algorithms to Live By" is that algorithms developed for computers can be used by people in everyday life in a wide range of situa…

    Read More

  5. Finding Signal In The Noise - How To Avoid The Noise Bottleneck

    The Art Of Being Wise Is The Art Of Knowing What To Overlook. We are blessed and cursed to live in the digital age. We have access to more information than we can possibly handle yet we struggle to fi…

    Read More

  6. The Checklist Manifesto - Your Personal Safety Net

    A Checklist Is A Safety Net That Encourages Better Results And Prevents Avoidable Mistakes. The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correc…

    Read More

  7. How Not To Be Stupid - 4 Key Tips

    How To Avoid The 7 Causes Of Everyday Stupidity. We are all capable of everyday stupidity as we undertake routine tasks in our business and working lives and also in our personal lives. This is not ab…

    Read More

  8. Beginners Mind And The Voice Of Experience

    Only The Experts Survived Evolution. "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." These are the famous words of Shunryu Suzuki in "Zen Mind, Beginner's Min…

    Read More

  9. The Art Of Being Alone Is A Skill

    Let's Make Today A Good Day. You may not have chosen the condition of being alone, and it may have been imposed upon you by circumstances beyond your control, but your response to the situation is wit…

    Read More

  10. Intuition & Anxiety - Are There Angels Or Devils Calling Here?

    How To Tell The Difference Between Intuition and Anxiety. How do you know whether the voice of your intuition is real or just the product of your inner anxiety? We all struggle with these inner voices…

    Read More

  11. Like A Prayer - Life Is A Mystery

    It Isn't The Process Of Prayer That’s The Problem, It’s The Way It’s Framed. Regardless of what we feel about Madonna or her song the topic of prayer often arouses strong reactions. Usually, it is som…

    Read More

  12. Fear Of Missing Out - "I'll Have What She's Having!"

    We Follow The Herd - We Mimic Other People's Choices. Fear of missing out - or FOMO as it is popularly referred to - is the feeling that everyone else in your peer group is having much more fun than y…

    Read More

  13. Free - Self Improvement Resources

    Exercising Balance and Discernment. I have just updated these self improvement resources with a number of additional sources of material that are practical and can help you change your life. Check it…

    Read More

  14. Your Higher Self - Your Hardwired Portal To The Universe

    This Is The You That Is Beyond Your Thinking Mind. This is the big you, the transcendent you, the you that is often referred to as your higher consciousness or higher self. This is the you that acts a…

    Read More

  15. The Power Of Gratitude - It's Good For You!

    Gratitude And Attitude Are Not Challenges, They Are Choices. The power of gratitude quite simply is that it is good for you! Many of us were raised by parents who instilled in us the social niceties o…

    Read More

  16. Living With Your Thoughts - 4 Tools To Help You

    Develop A Good Working Relationship With Your Mind. The first step in living with your thoughts is to understand and develop a good working relationship with all areas of your mind. The key to develop…

    Read More

  17. You Are Not Your Thoughts - How To Escape This Ferris Wheel Of Suffering

    The 4 Stages To Dealing With Your Thoughts. You are not your thoughts, at least that's what your rational mind tells you most of the time, but that's definitely not how it feels at 3 am when you have…

    Read More

  18. Finish What You Start - Action Will Destroy Your Procrastination

    4 Key Tips To Help You Finish What You Start. So why do you fail to finish what you start? Or in my case, why do I fail to even get started? There is a wealth of information out there about how to avo…

    Read More

  19. Going The Extra Mile - The Power Of One More

    Life Is Non-Linear, Which Makes The Rewards Of Continued Effort Disproportionately Big. In the pursuit of a long term goal you have to go countless extra miles to set yourself up for a big success. Go…

    Read More

  20. Tao Te Ching - Connecting To Your True Source Of Power.

    How To Be Lived By The Tao. The Tao Te Ching is one of those books that many people read, few understand, and even fewer put into practice. The only way to know the Tao is to experience it, and it is…

    Read More

  21. Dying To Self & Dropping The Ego

    Everything Does Not Revolve Around Me. The two phrases dying to self & dropping the ego are Christian and Buddhist expressions of the same fundamental truth - the need to correct the inbuilt, hardwire…

    Read More

  22. The Confident Mind - 4 Keys To Peak Performance

    Peak Performance Is Meditation In Motion. Peak performance is grounded in the Tao practise of Wu Wei which means "doing with out doing". This is all about how you take action by being so immersed in p…

    Read More

  23. Going With The Flow - The Balance Of Being And Doing

    Steer The Boat Each Day Rather Than Plan Ahead Way Into The Future. Going with the flow is about learning to become comfortable with uncertainty, and learning how to exploit the potential hidden withi…

    Read More

  24. 8 Principles For Success

    A Timeless Foundation On Which To Build Your Success. There are Universal laws and processes that work to support us and guarantee that we achieve all our goals. But first we need to know what they ar…

    Read More

  25. The Loving Father

    A Love That Will Not Let You Go. I had a loving father. I knew that I did, but I never felt it. My father was a good man but very damaged and unable to show his feelings. So I grew up knowing in my he…

    Read More

  26. Your Ebenezer Stone Of Help

    How To Stay Connected To Your True Source Of Power. Approximately 2,500 years ago the Israeli town of Kafr Qasim was close to the site of two battles between the ancient Israelis and their neighbours…

    Read More

  27. The Stockdale Paradox

    How To Deal With The Attrition Factor. The Stockdale Paradox is named after the late James Stockdale, former vice presidential candidate, naval commander and prisoner of war during the American-Vietna…

    Read More

  28. Embrace Your Fear Of Failure And Uncertainty

    We Celebrate Success And Ignore Failure. Numerous studies have been undertaken on successful people to understand what it was that they did to become so successful, how they did it and when they did i…

    Read More

  29. The Wilderness Years - 3 Keys To An Exit

    How You Got Into The Wilderness Matters Less Than The Lessons To Be Learnt There. The wilderness years can be described as any lengthy time, longer than a year, that is spend aimlessly; without an imm…

    Read More

  30. Boredom – Your Greatest Threat to Results

    We Live In A World That Glorifies The Results And Not The Process. We all know what we should be doing, but the trouble with that is that sooner of later we get bored. The enjoyment fades, the excitem…

    Read More



Get new posts by email:









Zen-Tools.Net





Support This Site