Today I’m reflecting on tipping points. If you’ve read the Malcolm Gladwell book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, you get some idea of how things bubble along and then their importance grows, seemingly overnight.
Normally I don’t bring numbers into this blog, but to illustrate this point I need to show you a graph. You have read about the IPO of Facebook (unless you’re off the net). This is the largest technology IPO ever. Why are people so entranced by the stock? Several reasons. The first is, to people like you and I, it’s personal. We use it and have a sense of the value of its service. For the professional investors, it’s more like, “I don’t want to be left out.”
The real dynamic that has the attention of many is their user growth. Some who say the price of the Facebook IPO is exaggerated focus on the slowing of the growth rate. That’s actually understandable when you look at this graph. What has my attention is the “tipping point” that began in August of 2008. For the next 12 months, Facebook users increased from 100 million to 300 million.
Why is this important to talk about? Two reasons. Many of you are either entrepreneurs or part of businesses that want to grow. Growth requires patience. During 2006, for instance, Facebook grew by 6.5 million users. Facebook listened to their users, kept offering them something they liked, and took the long view.
If you want to grow your business, start with clarity about who your customers are and how satisfied they are with what you are offering them. Know that their satisfaction is based upon today’s expectations and will change tomorrow. Facebook, and many other companies, are adept at meeting this continuously changing customer environment.
The second reason that this conversation interests me is more metaphysical. We live in a really small world when we consider how connected we are to each other. The original Six Degrees of Separation study of social psychologist Stanley Milgram in 1967 showed that we are no more than six steps away from each other. New research of Twitter users shows that this separation is 4.67.
Why is this so? There is a lot of study and no agreed upon conclusion. My sense is we are energetically connected in ways we don’t yet understand. These connections are not just with each other, but with everything in the universe (lots of good quantum physics on this). We are at a time when we can positively shift the dynamics of the world, through authentic and purposeful connections. The impact of these connections is amplified in ways that are important and that we don’t understand.
So remember, you may be the one person who makes a difference.