Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tipping Point 1: Usual Tipping

Tipping Point Part 1: Usual Tipping
This story runs into two parts. Click Here for part 2.

Marla Singer. I, once again, got reminded of Marla Singer. But I resisted playing Marla this time. I was standing opposite to Bangalore City railway station and I needed to cross the road to make it to the station. In less than two minutes, more than twenty people gathered at either sides of the road and they were in the same mindset – “jump cross the road as soon as rush of speedy vehicles gets a break.” And it never happened.

Few more moments of wait and someone decided to commit suicide and started walking casually – well, the suggestion worked, everyone joined him and it tipped –a momentary halt in racing vehicle as if there was a red signal.

Power of Suggestion makes it possible to tip an event – Tipping Point says so. I have some non-utterly-boring incidences where I think I can relate what I read in the book, Tipping point. They all point to power of suggestion part of the book.

Uncontrolled Traffic: There are quite a few very deadly crossroads on Poonamallee High Road, Chennai with overloaded traffic, self-assumed-smart vehicle drivers and thinking-over-smart pedestrians and this phenomena tip almost in every 4 of 10 red signals.

Red signal is yet at 35 second in down timer, at this moment there was a momentary slack in orthogonal traffic and a daring self-assumed-smart bike rider zips through it – A suggestion. Now tipping point, every one joins the bike rider and crisscross, honk-honk, shout-shout…

The same thing happens at 09:50 onward at night but with one difference, the suggestion is a commonly known fact that traffic lights will be in yellow-mode (that means see-and-cross, decision is yours) at 10 o’clock. And 09:50 PM is the tipping time for all non-major traffic signals.

Real Boring Habit can Tip: I lived 10 months dwindling in different private hostels in Chennai. The arrangement is like this, the hostel is nothing but a 2 bedroom, one hall, one kitchen (basically all except restrooms are converted to bedroom) apartment which is so strategically situated that no one wants to buy this or accept as rent. People who stay have one of the two main reasons to accept this. One, they do not have money and two, they have one or more attributes like they are ultimate lazy, totally unplanned, short stay or have no friends in Chennai.

No matter what the reason is, once in hostel they realize that they have been paying more for less, feel cheated. So, how to recover? Simple, utilize resources to the maximum – watch TV 24 hours, take bath two times (well, that’s a requirement sometimes), over eat et-cetera.

I read book occasionally. Reading anything was assumed to be most miserable thing to do in hostels – people become sympathetic to you. The other activity that we used to do, when not wasting resources, was, to talk – and we talk a lot. During one of the discussions, I kept on quoting different books wherever required. For some unknown reasons, people really liked it. And within a week, TV hours reduced, people started going to Landmark (bookshop) with me, borrowing books and most of them started a book. Phenomena tipped. The readers in the hostel had shot from one occasional reader to one occasional reader plus five enthusiasts, from 12.5% market share to 75% market share.

The reverse happened as well. Enthusiast dropped as quickly as they adopted. It happened something like this. I paused reading for one very busy month. I could see no one’s bookmark had shifted a page. I, finally, shifted to a new place and whenever I go back to the hostel – the bookmark still stays where it was, when I left the place.

This story runs into two parts. Part 2 >>


Anonymous said...

good observations man!! i look forward to more insights ..

Nishant Neeraj said...

To Ramesh: Thanks. Sure thing.

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