By Sam Korsmoe
Madison County Economic Development Council
More than 10 years ago, Malcolm Gladwell, a journalist and author, wrote a book called “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.” It’s a highly informative book and a great read because it documents how the tiniest efforts can sometimes lead to incredibly positive (and sometimes negative) outcomes.
The people or person who made the small effort generally had no clue as to the eventual outcome of their effort. These tiny efforts that can lead to big outcomes can be applied to consumer trends, politics, business growth, capital campaigns and even the spread or stoppage of communicable disease. I know a bit about this phenomenon because it happened with the Madison Valley Hospital capital campaign, Fish Out Of Water, the Madison Marathon and other development projects that our office has managed.
Little efforts can make a difference. If we ignore the smallest of efforts or consider them inconsequential and not worth doing, we risk losing momentum. Potentially, we tip backwards and lose the entire project. We always have to keep pushing.
As most of you know, we are a finalist to be selected as the home community for the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. We have already had one tipping point and it eventually became anything but a tiny effort. Tony and Amie James, the new owners of the Hamilton Ranch, have agreed to donate the Doncaster Round Red Barn plus 30 acres of land near Twin Bridges as part of our final proposal. This incredibly gracious gift has set us up to win.
However, even this effort started with a simple phone call inquiring if it was too late or not to consider a new land option. That phone call tipped Madison County into a position to win this competition when it may not have had much of a chance. In visual terms, we are now like a needle standing straight up at a 90-degree angle. We can either tip forward into the winning column or tip backwards as an also-ran.
Right now, I like our chances. If I were the development director in Livingston, Big Timber, or Big Sky, I would want to be in Madison County’s boots. Yet, I would also be looking for new tipping points to make my community more competitive to negate the strong position of Madison County and the other competitors.
This is where you come in. What’s your tipping point? What is the effort that you are ready to put forward for our community to tip us into an even stronger position? These efforts can be as simple as a letter of support, an offer of some kind of service (e.g. a horse training seminar), a letter writing campaign among your group or club members (e.g. a batch of letters from 4H members), a pledged donation, an actual donation, or anything else. The beauty of the tipping point phenomenon is that you never know what might be the tipping point that leads to success. The most important part of the tipping point idea is that you never stop working.
Please send me your tipping point ideas. Thank you.