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Effective mental models to understand the World hypesInflection and tipping point logic

The tipping point can be a moment or factor that causes a situation to gain momentum quickly, or it can be a time when a significant or unstoppable change occurs. To better understand the origin of the tipping point, it is good to recall the literal meaning of this idiom, which has to do with physics. In physics, a tipping point is when an object becomes unbalanced, and even a slight effort can cause it to tip over or tip the scales in favor or against. By the way, the analogy with the bowl of scales can be found as early as in Aristotle’s Politics work of political philosophy, written in the 4th century B.C. The phrase has expanded beyond its original meaning. It has been applied to any process, from economics to human ecology, in which after a certain point, the rate of the process increases dramatically. It can also be compared to a phase transition in physics or the spread of populations in an unbalanced ecosystem. Regime change belongs to that paradoxical class of inevitable but not predictable events. However, it is almost impossible to predict when that change will occur. Often, many people want change and yet fear the consequences or lack the information necessary to join forces. A revolution occurs only when a critical mass of people’s desire for change overwhelms their fear. One example occurred in China in 1989. While the desire for change was almost universal, the consequences felt too dire. When a handful of students protested for reform in Beijing, authorities did not punish them. Those few students who protested were the critical mass. Other examples are currency inflation, strikes, migrations, and revolutions. In retrospect, such events are explainable and even super-determinable. However, it is impossible to predict their timing and nature in perspective. Such events seem to be coming closer and closer but do not occur even when all conditions are ripe – until they occur suddenly.

Why is an inflection point important? Inflection points are super interesting without getting too technical because they signify a specific point on a graph where the trend fundamentally changes. In a simple situation, you might think about an inflection point as “the point of no return.” It is where the forces directing the trend have been totally turned upside-down.

What’s the difference between inflection point and tipping point? In principle, very little in general usage. It is possible to choose one or the other, depending on how specific it is to be said. An “inflection” is generally used to refer to specific types of changes in a somewhat neutral or even technical manner. “Inflection point” therefore lacks the connotations of failure and might be used in any case when an identification can be made of the moment and cause of a particular change. However, the phrase “inflection point” also has specific technical definitions outside the general conversation.

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In the course of human life and society, moments occur that lead to a loss of control over the situation. In personal, political, or social matters, things happen to work that have not happened before, that is, a situation arises when the present state no longer responds to the action being taken as it once did. At this time, the catchphrase “Something has changed!” may come to mind. This transition period is challenging and deceptive; besides, no alarm is turned on in advance to draw attention to the beginning of this transition. The impact of such a transition on any area of life and activity is enormous, and how one handles it will determine its future. This phenomenon is the tipping point or the inflection point of the curve.

A similar process occurs in the development strategy of a society or business. A tipping point occurs when the old strategy gives way to a new one, allowing the changemaker to rise to the top. However, if you do not get past the tipping point, a decline is possible after passing through the highs. It is at such tipping points that one feels the most confusion and begins to think, “Things are different now. Something has changed.”

In other words, the tipping point is the moment when the balance of power changes: the old structure, the old ways and models of life, work, and thinking give way to new ones. Before the strategic tipping point, everything went more like the old way of doing things; after the tipping point, everything operates mostly in a new way. This is the point at which the curve has subtly but significantly changed. After that, it will never take the same shape.

How to identify inflection points before they happen? Why is it that some ideas, including stupid ones, take hold and become trends while others bloom briefly and after disappearing from the public eye? In most cases, the realization comes in several stages. At first, there is an anxious feeling that something has changed. Things aren’t working the way they used to, or attitudes toward you have changed. Organizations, things, or perceptions of a situation that were once doing a great job can no longer offer what everyone and everything used to be okay with. Or the slogans you used to use for a long time now seem strange. Then there is a growing discrepancy between what you think about what is happening and what is actually happening. By the way, such a discrepancy between familiar statements and practical actions points to more serious chaos than what you are used to. What follows is a new frame of reference, a new understanding, new patterns of action. It is as if the right direction has been found, although it may take a year or a decade. Finally, new valid statements are developed. People will divide into groups according to their ideas about the right direction. The different views are usually defended firmly and forcefully. People begin to work energetically to follow their beliefs, and often, where previously constructive and cooperative, conflicts will play out.

Critical mass, which is sometimes referred to as tipping points, is when something as an idea, belief, trend, or virus is prevalent enough to grow, or sustain, a process, reaction, or technology. This is one of the most effective mental models to understand the world. The concept can explain everything from viral videos to why changing habits is so hard. Sometimes it can seem as if drastic changes happen at random. One moment a country is stable; the next, a revolution begins, and the government is overthrown. Or an idea lingers at the fringes of society before it suddenly becomes mainstream. As erratic and unpredictable as these occurrences are, there is a logic to them, which the concept of critical mass can explain. As a mental model, critical mass can help us to understand the world around us by letting us spot changes before they occur, make sense of tumultuous times, and even gain insight into our own behaviors. This understanding can also give us an edge in changing habits, launching products, or choosing investments. The complexity theory makes it possible to see that significant changes can emerge from small actions. Indeed, things often get worse before they get better as systems change creates resistance to and pushback against the new.

Unfortunately, there is no way to determine the time for the necessary actions, for the changes that will save the whole rebuilding situation. But you can’t wait until it’s obvious, either. The right timing is everything! If this tactic is applied to the working moments and if these changes begin while the system or company is still healthy, that is, while the current strategy, policy, or work creates a protective shell within which to experiment with new ways of doing things, there is a much better chance of maintaining the strategic position and all that comes with it. But it also means starting to act when everything is not yet known when the data have not yet arrived. Even those who take a scientific approach to organizing things need to rely entirely on instinct and their own judgment. Surprisingly, when you find yourself in a cycle of strategic tipping points, only your own instincts and common sense can get you out of it. The tipping point can be real-time to wake up and listen. And also, by tracing this mechanism, learn to notice the different signals. They may have existed all along the way, but as usual, we don’t see them.

The concept of “Critical mass”

The concept of critical mass is crucial for adopting new technology. Every piece of technology which once was or is now a ubiquitous part of our lives was once new and novel. The value of networked technology increases as the size of the network itself does. As a general rule, the more a new technology depends upon a network of users, the faster it will reach critical mass. This situation creates a positive feedback loop. PayPal was an excellent example of this. It was needed to attract a critical mass of at least a million users for PayPal to work. The key to the breakthrough lay in the original solution to pay people to sign up. Each new customer received $10 for signing up and a further $10 each time a friend was brought to sign up. This provided hundreds of thousands of new customers and exponential growth.

When enough people, as a critical mass, think about and truly consider the plausibility of a concept, it becomes a reality and so shows us this term in sociology. In larger societies, particularly those with a great deal of control over people, the figure must usually be high enough for a change to occur. In other societies, just a handful of people can change prevailing views. For a long time, it has been known that groups of people behave differently than individuals. Curiously, once a critical mass of people shares and comment on a piece of content online, it reaches viral status. Its popularity then grows exponentially before it fades away a short time later. The difference between viral and mainstream media is that the former is more interactive and is shaped by the people who consume it.

According to journalist and public speaker Malcolm T. Gladwell’s research, there are three main factors in creating a critical mass of people necessary to induce a sudden change. The first is the Law of the Few which states that specific categories of people are instrumental in creating tipping points. The second factor is the stickiness factor what makes a change significant and memorable. The social web is sticky because we want to keep returning to see what is being said about and to us. The more sticky something is the slower its decline. And the third factor is the specific context, where time and place must be right for an epidemic to occur. It takes a tiny number of people to kickstart the tipping point in any sort of epidemic. Economists often talk about the 80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation, roughly 80 percent of the “work” will be done by 20 percent of the participants. Or in most societies, 20 percent of motorists cause 80 percent of all accidents. When it comes to epidemics, though, this disproportionality becomes even more extreme: a tiny percentage of people do the majority of the work. Understanding how a tipping point works can help clarify the critical mass concept. One big question is: what percentage of a population is necessary to create a critical mass?

How minority beliefs change majority opinion

Researchers from a private research university, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which focuses on science and technology, asked what part of the population is needed to detect the tipping point when minority beliefs become majority opinions. In this way, modern technology explores the fundamentals of community structure and how these structures have been altered. The aim is a deeper understanding of communities and the identification of a clear scientific basis for the recently emerged field of study of the science of social networks. Computational and analytical methods based on the study of social cognitive networks were used. The study results revealed an important aspect: the percentage of adherents of an opinion required to influence the majority does not change significantly, regardless of the adherents’ communities. In other words, the percentage of adherents of an opinion required to influence society stays at about 10 percent, regardless of where and how a particular opinion originated and spread in society.

The researchers created computer models of different social networks to draw the final conclusions. In certain groups, scientists introduced a few deeply convinced people who had fully formed opinions and had no intention of changing them in any way. As soon as these deeply convinced people began interacting with those who held traditional views, the majority opinion began to change. A general trend was established, showing that usually, people do not feel entirely comfortable if they do not share a common opinion, so they begin to look for a compromise. If the “listener” had the same opinion as to the one who started the conversation, it reinforced the former’s beliefs. If his opinion was different, the “listener” would begin to think about it and talk to the other person about it. And if that person shared that new opinion, then the “listener” began to share the same views.

The study results showed that when only 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their opinion will always be accepted by the majority of society. In other words, when the number of supporters of an idea reaches only 10 percent of people, the beliefs begin to spread with cosmic speed, and now even in different people or people with a conservative outlook will start to accept the minority idea as acceptable enough for themselves. It is worth noting an important point that when the number of adherents of any view is less than 10 percent, there is no apparent progress in spreading ideas. It usually takes an incredible amount of time for a minority opinion to become public. Do you think 10 or 15% (or even 20!) numbers are unattainable to create unanimity in a society created by a convinced minority? Probably not.

The research has also shown that the 10% can comprise anyone in a given society. What matters is that those people are set in their beliefs and do not respond to pressure to change them. Instead, they pass their ideas on to others. The potential use of this knowledge is tremendous. Now that we know how many people are necessary to form a critical mass, this information can be manipulated — for good or evil. The choice is yours.

The point of no return in the thinking process

Cause-and-effect relationships in the existing world connect everything around us. If necessary, it is correct to begin with the effect and progress to the root causes to understand why it manifests itself? As we go deeper into our thinking, we can reach points that we cannot verify or clarify. Sometimes one encounters something that probably exists but knows about it because of logic rather than one’s immediate senses.

Likewise, in the exact sciences, when one delves into the search for the causes of a phenomenon, one reaches depths that cannot be navigated using direct experience. And here, it is necessary to be very careful because if direct observations cannot confirm the existence of something, it is very easy to sink into the logic of a closed circle, which is the point of no return in the process of clear thinking. It is worth noting that this surrounds modern man to such an extent that he stops even noticing. It occurs at almost every turn and is also heard regularly in the media. For example, someone will say, “You do not feel joy, because you suppressed it in yourself.” This begs the question, “What makes you think I suppressed joy?” In the end, you are likely to hear the well-known answer, “Isn’t it obvious? You suppressed joy because you don’t feel it.” This is the face of closed-circle argumentation, the so-called tautology. Apply it once, and you’ll permanently block your way to finding root causes, sinking into fiction instead. The problem is that the arguments of the closed circle sound convincing enough that when we cannot verify them for ourselves, we are often inclined to take them seriously.

But the logic of the closed circle does not mean that the cause in question is wrong. It merely indicates that a causal relationship has not been established, contrary to the first, superficial impression. So how can the use of closed-circle logic be avoided? There are plenty of explanations to find plenty of other “becauses,” and to get a better insight, more information is needed, that is, not to stay on the surface of things. The solution, in the end, is simple – once the true cause is established, then a way out of the impasse is possible. This usually requires only unconventional, original thinking beyond the framework into which we drive ourselves.

Hype, or the scarity principle

The essence of the scarcity principle is this: the value of something positive in our eyes is significantly increased if it becomes unavailable. Whatever is scarce is the best. Everyone knows the effect of this principle, and yet it is no less effective. One of the most famous studies of scarcity, initiated by the social psychologist Stephen Worchel in 1975, with a relatively simple technique, showed the following. He and his colleagues offered participants cookies in a jar, with one jar containing ten pieces and the other containing only two. Participants were more likely to choose the jar with two, even though the cookies themselves in both jars were completely identical in appearance and taste. When something is rare, it becomes valuable. Why is this the case? It comes from a fear of missing out on the benefits for the most part. When collectors of all sorts of things, from baseball cards to antiques, determine the value of an object, the principle of scarcity has a powerful influence on them. As a rule, if an object is a rarity, it is more valuable. The phenomenon of precious defects is particularly revealing. Spoiled objects-a smudged postage stamp or a coin minted the same way on both sides-are sometimes considered the most valuable of all. There is irony in this: defective items that would otherwise pass as trash turn out to be valuable possessions when they bear the stamp of appropriate scarcity. The thought of potential loss has a more significant impact on people than the thought of acquisition. The threat of potential loss has a strong influence on decision-making. It seems that the possibility of losing something is a stronger motivation than the possibility of acquiring something of equal value.

Retailers often use the principle of scarcity in advertising. Sometimes the information about a limited quantity of goods is correct, and sometimes it is false. In each case, however, the sellers intend to create some sort of trend of hype for the item of interest and thus increase its value in their eyes. Although there are thousands of different tactics used to get consumers to agree to a product or service, most of these tactics fall into a mere six main categories. Each category corresponds to one of the fundamental psychological principles underlying human behavior: the consistency principle, the reciprocal exchange principle, the social proof principle, the authority principle, the disposition principle, and the scarcity principle. How exactly does each principle compel people to say yes without thinking? Nor is it wrong to assume that modern life’s rapid pace and information saturation will contribute to the increasing prevalence of nonthinking compliant behavior in the future. It will be essential for society to understand the mechanisms that automatically influence human behavior in this matter. As a rule, and as their life experience shows, people, rely on stereotypical thinking that reflects the most rational problem-solving approach. In fact, automatic, stereotypical behavior prevails in people because it is the most appropriate or simply necessary in many cases. Instead of thinking hard and taking the time to identify signs that indicate the true value of products, services, or relationships, people take shortcuts and focus on only one factor, such as price, as the only criterion for quality.

Psychologists confirm that we use several thinking stereotypes in our everyday judgments. In most cases, the mechanism of action of thought stereotypes has much in common with the mechanism of action of the rule “expensive = good”. The tendency to simplistic thinking tends to be very helpful but often leads us to make serious mistakes. We are repeatedly urged to believe what we are told or to do what we are told. One prime example of a stereotype rule: if an authority figure says so, it must be true. Numerous laboratory studies have shown that people tend to respond meaningfully to information when they are both willing and able to analyze it carefully. Otherwise, people usually prefer to react according to one type of stereotype or another.

The principle of scarcity affects the evaluation of objects and experiences and the assessment of information. Research shows that restricting access to information makes people especially eager to obtain that access in full and makes them relate more favorably to that information. Restricted information is more persuasive. At first glance, this conclusion seems surprising. In the case of censorship, this effect occurs even when no information is received at all. When this information is finally received, it is more valuable. Analysts have also found that every stage in developing a company offering the world a new technology, or the presentation of a significant new product, is characterized by a certain level of information hype around the innovation. By analyzing the media’s reaction, it is possible to judge the developer’s situation.

The hype cycle is a graphical representation of specific technologies’ penetration, adaptation, and social impact. The term was introduced in 1995 by Gartner, an American company specializing in information technology market research, to describe and evaluate the enthusiasm that the emergence of new technological solutions generates among users. There are five stages in the Hype cycle, through each of which a reference innovation passes over time.

The emergence of the technology and the beginning of a discussion of its prospects in narrow circles of professionals and developers is the exit to the first stage of technology trigger. Then the involvement in the discussion of enthusiasts and fans of trying everything new – as the popularity of the innovation grows among such people, the advertising hype and excitement grows. There comes the moment of peak of inflated expectations when everyone is already talking about the technology. The third stage thought of disillusionment reveals that the technology is full of weaknesses, shortcomings, limitations.

Disillusionment arises and often comes to recognizing the technology as a failure, both on the part of consumers and the media. The slope of enlightenment shows that outstanding technology, after some adaptation, finds its application. As a rule, if at least 5% of the potential audience accepted the innovation, the second” updated and amended” generation of the product is released. Criticism in the media decreases significantly because other innovations have appeared, and everyone is busy praising them (a repeat of the second stage). The developers correct their mistakes, and the technology becomes more convenient, its real audience grows, and eventually, there is interest in the product again, though less than in the peak times. As a result of detailed work on mistakes, the last level of plateau of productivity is reached. The technology has won its place on the market, has become a convenient tool or solution in a specific area, a kind of given – it is used by at least 20% of the target audience. The media mostly brings up such technology to compare the next innovation with it. Well, here we are at 20%! How to use hype cycles? As with many analytical tools, everything is ambiguous here. Perhaps by intuition, experts understand the stage of the life cycle of this or that technology, product, or social concept is in, and the hype cycle is just a bright and beautiful marketing tool for technology developers. But the relative positioning of various related or competing technologies and feedback from analysts and experts on their viability and speed of adaptation is a handy tool for decision-makers.

Affiliate marketing

The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice, and patented by American entrepreneur and inventor William J. Tobin. The idea of revenue sharing as paying commission for referred businesses predates affiliate marketing and the Internet. The translation of the revenue share principles to mainstream e-commerce happened in November 1994, almost four years after the origination of the World Wide Web. Amazon.com launched its associate program in July 1996 and was not the first merchant to offer an affiliate program, but its program was the first to become widely known and serve as a model for subsequent programs.

Affiliate marketing is becoming more and more popular nowadays. It belongs to the performance marketing group and is therefore primarily focused on activity. Its principle, in short, is that partners bring customers to the end merchant through various promotional materials. Affiliate marketing is based purely on performance. As a rule of thumb, the principle that 20% of affiliates bring 80% of all conversions through affiliates works. The best thing about affiliate marketing is running it on a larger scale. A typical retailer usually only sells products from a single company. However, in affiliate marketing, you can promote products from many different companies and receive commissions from all of them. The added value of affiliate marketing is that advertisers can collaborate with hundreds of partners, the affiliates, without engaging in direct communication with them. Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.

Harvard Electoral College

Modern society is constantly evolving and thus requires new skills, knowledge, and abilities. Education is one of the conservative social institutions due to the specifics of society’s tasks, the necessary transfer of social experience to new generations. At the same time, it is a sphere of human activity in which we are constantly searching for new content and different approaches to learning that meet the spirit of the time and the educational needs of the individual and society.

Nowadays, universities are considered essential players in transferring knowledge, innovation, and technology to the economy. As a response to today’s challenges and trends, educational institutions must lay the foundation for a new system of education – one of quality, sustainability, and fairness. Radical changes induced by the new way of working, globalization, and rapid technological change are forcing universities to reconsider their role and the value of their education to their students and society.

Using social cognitive network methods, implications for learning and the impact on social interaction have been found to depend on factors ranging from the diffusion of new technologies to political preferences.

Changes in education are based on the practical introduction of various modern technologies for greater academic success. One such area is elective courses, which is understood as a course of the student’s choice offered during the educational process. Elective courses act as one of the ways to form a socio-cultural aspect of vocationally-oriented education. This form, of course, has various tasks such as creating additional motivation for learning the subject, intensifying students’ cognitive activity, satisfying interest, and focusing on the choice of further professional activity. Also, to improve informational and communicative competence of students; to develop the ability to use different sources of information; to create conditions for self-education and the acquisition of skills of independent work, solving practical problems.

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About James Kellner

I am James, I care of the government forms and types, their behavior, and the effect on economics and citizens. I analyze government systems that include international politics, world-wide policies, political sociology, and crisis management.

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