I just finished reading (for the second time) Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.”
It’s a great examination of the factors that make new ideas into runaway successes – or cause small outbreaks of the flu to become an epidemic.
There’s a point at which time something gains enough mass that it simply tips – it spreads like wildfire.
Gladwell identifies key types of people who are needed to move things from seed to epidemic: the Connectors (those people who just know a lot of other people – and introduce or connect people as a matter of their day); Mavens (those people who love to research new products and share what they learn with you – and you respect their opinion so much that you follow their advice whenever possible); and Salesmen (the ones who can simply sell an Eskimo a freezer – they have the knack for explaining, building a relationship and convincing you of a real need they can help fill).
I enjoyed this second reading of the book because I see the tipping point effects in my own company.
When we first started offering online courses, many states wouldn’t let Administrators get their continuing education courses online. It was classroom or nothing. Many Administrators didn’t have access to a
computer, let alone caregivers.
We’d get calls with questions about using the mouse. “OK, I’ve picked it up; I’m pointing it at the screen, but nothing is happening.” Honest.
We could just about guarantee that for every 10 online courses we sold, we’d get at least 5 phone calls for assistance.
Today, we’ve tipped in a major way.
Most Administrators not only have access to computers, they have a distinct preference for online courses to meet their CEU requirements. Sure, they love conferences when they can go, but for those last few CEU classes, just point me to the nearest online website.
Most care communities and companies have computers for staff use today, too. The “pioneers” in online staff training would set up a computer learning station in their entry way and let staff come up front to take their courses. Visitors were impressed; staff felt important and empowered. Now, learning centers filled with computers are available in communities throughout the country. Companies have discovered that offering their staff more opportunities to learn means that more people will, in fact, learn more. Skill level overall increases; engagement and motivation rises; quality of care improves; word-of-mouth spreads like an epidemic of good news.
Meanwhile, this tipping effect has led, in turn, to efficiencies on our end. Since we no longer have to explain the basics of using a mouse, our team can focus on building even more courses, with even more interactivity and opportunities for “aha” moments. We have automated many of the processes that took hands’ on time, and we’ve been able to build our client base substantially without adding significantly to our overhead.
That means we can now, for the first time, offer pricing structures that work for even the smallest operator – the one who wants to offer all the benefits the larger companies do, but still keep a keen eye on their bottom line.
I remember my old friend Ralph Bellande saying, “The pioneers all got shot; the settlers were the ones that got the land.” His point was that it was rarely the first to market that succeed. It’s usually the second ones, who watch what us pioneers do, and then come in and avoid all of our mistakes, who really succeed.
There have been times in this process I could feel the arrows aimed at my back. I’m happy to say that now, I’m seeing a healthy harvest from all the seeds we’ve sown over the past 4 years.
It feels like we’re finally reached that tipping point of our own. Little things, indeed, do make a big difference!
Friday, December 16, 2011
1 year ago