Continuing with my attempt to lay out my new “incrementalist” theory of change, I’ll start with my previous definition: “a series of imperceptible changes to highly inter-dependent environmental factors, such that the new absurd world becomes obvious and the old obvious world seems absurd”.
This may sound a little like everyone’s favourite pop-business-management-book-factory, Malcolm Gladwell. While I enjoy his books for his ability to condense something everyone has heard of their whole lives into consumable and quotable morsels, Gladwell is not an original thinker.
There goes the neighborhood
“Tipping point”, for example, was borrowed from Thomas Schelling whose theory started out with a thought experiment in which each family in a hypothetical neighbourhood would have some arbitrary racial comfort level, expressed as the minimum percentage of the neighbourhood they required to be their own race, in order to feel comfortable. Schelling suggested that each new family of a different race that moved in would have only a tiny impact on the overall composition, but that at some point, every family of the original race would simultaneously become uncomfortable and an exodus would ensue. The model suggests that there are three possible outcomes- an all White neighbourhood, an all black neighbourhood, and a very transient and unstable equilibrium in the middle, which could go either way. The all-black and all-White worlds are called basins of attraction, while the state in the middle is called the “Tipping point”. Read more…