(A similar version of this post was released out of sync with it;’s part 1. Apologies for those who got it, bjut I will duplicate with some amendments, giving its importance)
In part 1 I referred to sources that attempt to establish a threshold of number of people needed in order to shape a new culture, literally flip to a new regime. This topic is relevant to management and leadership in organizations, particularly those that have decided that enough is enough of top-down change and communication systems. Here today I’d like to enter into a more nuanced territory in which those published magic numbers (3%, 10%, 25%) are met by context and perspective.
For me the key for the ‘flipping’ ( to a new culture) is the synchronization of several factors, that the Viral Change Mobilizing Platform plays with. For example, a particular type of storytelling may accelerate the ‘intake of new behaviours’ if people feel some level of ‘social proof’ (read: it is happening already, we don’t need to wait). So that magic threshold, if there was one, changes. Acceleration may also come from particular interventions from leaders, what we call Backstage Leadership™.
Out of sync over-communication, may actually decelerate the pace (channels saturated; translation: here we go again, I am switching off) so we pay a lot of attention to the amount of World I (information push) that needs to be visible, sometimes reducing it, not increasing it!
In the macro-social world, or social change in the public domain, such as our programme with the Health Service in Ireland, digital activism (orchestrated used of social media) changes all parameters. I doubt anybody can put a number in the threshold/tipping point. Sophisticated mathematical models (of the type I am not equipped to perform) could get us to some approximation about thresholds and numbers.
From outside the arena of Network Sciences/Viral Change™ it is impossible to ignore the work of Nassim Taleb on ‘minority rules’. One of his chapters from ‘Skin in the Game’ can be downloaded here: The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority. It says for example: It suffices for an intransigent minority –a certain type of intransigent minorities –to reach a minutely small level, say three or four percent of the total population, for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences. He gives lots of examples an actually seems to give a pretty low threshold.
Where to go for the learning?
No single discipline today can explain complex large scale social change whether inside the organization or in the external world. Individual psychology (eg. personality of the activist) is hopeless to predict anything. Social psychology understands groups and grouping, but likes snap shots of phenomenon and pseudo-mathematical analysis of its research. The late Polish, then British Prof Stanislav Andreski wrote a gem of a little book in 1972 entitled ‘Social sciences as sorcery’. Just saying. Behavioural Economics has lots and lots to say about human behaviour and how it can be ‘nudged, but they don’t understand networks and ‘networks effect’. Network Science does, but they don’t understand human behaviour. Political science is probably ahead of the game and ahead of anybody else, but is shielded by its very own focus (‘we don’t do politics in business, this is not a political party’, and then we switch off). Social movements theory and history is the one that has more to say but it requires patience and understanding since the literature is colossal. You’ll find Human Rights and #meetoo all in the same shelves.
If I wanted to be proud of what Viral Change™ has done over 20 years us that we have invited all of them for dinner and got the secrets of how they cook things. Viral Change™ is truly what is called a meta-discipline which main expertise is the bridge between disciplines otherwise not entirely talkative to each other.
Tomorrow Part 3, if you can bear it. The key conclusions and practical implications for us mortals in organizations, shaping our internal cultures. And I will include also some red herrings