How to Make Big Things Happen

Damon Centola

Publisher: John Murray Press, 2021, 343 pages

ISBN: 978-1-529-37337-0

Keywords: Change Management

Last modified: Oct. 5, 2021, 5:45 p.m.

'This book is about change. How it works and why it so often fails. It's about the spread of unlikely innovations, the success of fringe movements, the acceptance of unpopular ideas, and the triumph of contentious new beliefs. Through the hidden power of social influence, the network around us shapes how we respond to an innovation, causing us either to ignore it or adopt it. This process has given rise to a new science for understanding how change happens and how we can help make it happen.'

From the spread of Covid-19 to the rise of political polarization, from implicit bias to genetically modified food, from NASA to Netflix — it's time to think differently about how change works.

Damon Centola is the world expert in the new science of networks. His ground-breaking research across areas as disparate as voting, health, technology and finance has highlighted powerful and highly effective new ways to ensure lasting change. In this book, Professor Centola distils over a decade of experience into a compelling new theory that challenges previous assumptions that new ideas are either contagious or not. The real story of social change is more complex and much more interesting. When we are exposed to a new idea, our social networks guide our responses in striking and surprising ways.

Drawing on deep-yet-accessible research and fascinating examples, Change presents a paradigm-shifting new science for understanding what drives lasting change, and how, by recognizing our blind spots, we can alter the world around us.

  1. Pervasive myths That Prevent Change
    1. The Myth of the Influencer: The (Un)Popularity Paradox
    2. The Myth of Virality: The Unexpected Weakness of Weak Ties
    3. The Myth of Stickiness: Why Great Innovations Fail
  2. The Changemaker's Playbook
    1. How Change Happens: The Discovery of Complex Contagions
    2. Complex Contagions in Action: Memes, Bots, and Political Change
    3. Contagion Infrastructure: The Importance of Wide Bridges
    4. The Principle of Relevance: The Power of People Like Us and Unlike Us
  3. The 25 Percent Tipping Point
    1. In Search of a New Normal
    2. Wittgenstein, #MeToo, and the Secret of Cultural Change
    3. The Blind Spot in the Mind's "I": Unexpected Triggers for Tipping Points
  4. Discord, Disruption, and Discovery
    1. Optimizing Innovation: Social Networks for Discovery
    2. Bias, Beliefs, and the Willingness to Change
    3. The Seven Fundamental Strategies for Change