Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Tipping Point vs Jumping The Shark

The Tipping Point, and Jumping The Shark. Gotta love pop culture, don't you. Explaining why things turn good or go bad is the oldest thing in the book, but its often such an interesting topic. I find The Tipping Point to be Malcolm Gladwell's best work, a thought that I know many people share. Plus, who doesn't jokingly know the exact moment when their favorite tv show or movie series jumped the shark?

The interesting thing is that as different as these ideas are, they're both the same. They're both created to show the exact point when a specific instance happens. Yeah, Tipping Point is a good instance, and for the most part Jumping The Shark is a bad instance, but they really do come about the same way. Often times, these two things can be indentical, or very close in timing. Some people have said that they are one in the same - the instant something tips and becomes popular, it has jumped the shark, and will never be better than it was previous to that moment.

The thing that links these two ideas is unpredictability. The examples given in The Tipping Point are some of the most random things I have ever seen, and there is no way I could have, or just about anyone could have predicted it. Jumping The Shark is rather unpredictable as well. Maybe you can see it coming, for instance if your television show hired Ted McGinley, but I digress.

Unpredictability. Its the bane of many a businessman's existence. How else can you explain the Pet Rock? Beanie Babies? Real Men Of Genius? Reality Television? Its a wonder all people who work in marketing or advertising haven't gone insane by now!

To do this kind of thing, you need to thrive on the unpredictable. Take everything you do as the biggest damn thing in the world, because you know what? It might be. You won't know unless you go for it.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Wow, Mark, you link two concepts in a way that I haven't thought of before. Nicely done!

    What's really interesting to me is when you compare The Tipping Point to a book like Made to Stick. You'd think the latter -- orange cover, duct tape on it, cool concept -- would be a bigger hit. It's a good read, but it's no Tipping Point; and it's penned by two smart guys.

    Sometimes the counter-intuitive ends up being the most intuitive.

    Long Live Ted McGinley,


  2. Thanks for the comment Dave! I'll have to look up Made To Stick, I don't think I have that one.

    Going against the grain can definitely be the way to go on occasion, the key is to find that occasion and take advantage of it.