Tipping Point Computer Simulation

At its heart, an organization change is an idea about getting work done faster, better, or at lower cost. The Tipping Point simulator leverages the fact that ideas become contagious and spread when people advocate them. The best advocates are people with expertise in the area affected by the change who also have experience with it and enthusiasm for it. Leaders who support these advocates by making their own commitment clear, providing needed tools and information, recognizing efforts, and rewarding successes create the context for the new idea to spread.

The Tipping Point model of change links employees' attitudes toward a change with the Seven Levers of Change. The computer simulator embodies the theory. Used in the Change, Dialogue, and Action workshop, the simulator provides a platform for friendly competition and focused dialogue, which makes these ideas come alive and allows participants can see them in action.


The Tipping Point simulation has had impact on how I view strategies and which levers within the organization need to be pulled. I have the themes and ideas in my mind as I think about the best ways to achieve roll out of a strategy.
—Richard Stubbs, Business Development, NHS, UK

History of the Simulation Development

The Tipping Point simulation is grounded in both a solid theoretical foundation and testing in real-life organizational settings. This explains its unique strength, validity, and applicability to a wide range of change initiatives.

First, it includes existing theories of organizational change, relying substantially on the work of Kurt Lewin, Marvin Weisbord, William Bridges, Daryl Conner, and John Kotter.

Second, it draws on lessons learned from public health, leveraging the analogy between the spread of epidemics and the spread of ideas, and explored in books by Everett Rogers, Thomas Schnelling, and more recently by Malcolm Gladwell.

Finally, it also has deep roots in theories from systems dynamics, especially the work of Peter Senge and John Sterman.

Making the Simulator Real

Expertise from the real-life experience of change leaders was needed to actually put numbers to the theory and create the computer simulator. Initial development leveraged the know-how of a small group of people who had been responsible for implementing a number of change initiatives and who had well over seventy-five years of change management know-how among them. Their knowledge was used to define the interrelationships in the simulation.

The prototype then underwent field testing with academics, students, and organizational change leaders before final development of the simulation.

The Tipping Point has what social scientists call “face validity.” Anyone familiar with change management will recognize the results as reflected in their own experience, but it is not meant to be a predictive tool.

What You Get

It would be nice to have a computer simulation that gives the exact recipe for implementing any change. However, all organizations and all changes are different, and there is no single recipe for change. So no single simulation can provide specific answers for every change.

Nonetheless, the Tipping Point simulation’s structure and dynamics are comparable across organizations and changes, and the actions that leaders can take, represented by the levers of change, have parallels across a wide range of organizations and change initiatives.

Some examples are putting a six sigma program into practice in an engineering company, improving throughput in a manufacturing floor, streamlining customer service in banking, implementing a career management process in a health care environment, or revamping the supply chain management system in a high-tech manufacturing company.

The Tipping Point simulation has been very helpful, during such transformative times. It provides us with a common language when discussing how to move forward with necessary changes.
—Sebastian Wilson, City of Seattle, Parks and Recreation

Why It Is Relevant

The Tipping Point simulation offers a way for workshop participants to experiment with the dynamics of change and the change levers in a safe, low-risk environment. It fosters dialogue among team members and helps them learn from one another and create a shared mental model of what is needed to implement a change.

A shared mental model combines knowledge of each team member to create a richer, fuller understanding. There is an old saying, “All of us together are smarter than any one of us alone.” A shared mental model draws on the knowledge and experience of all team members, helping teams create a more effective implementation plan that addresses interactions that might otherwise have fallen through the cracks.

By using the Tipping Point simulation, the Change, Dialogue, and Action workshop excels in its capacity to foster experimentation and dialogue that creates shared understanding among team members creating a stronger, smarter team.


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Seven Levers of Change
Tipping Point Simulator
Change, Dialogue, & Action
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More about the Workshop
Creating Advocates
Applying the Tipping Point
Workshop Flyer
Certification Flyer
Book Flyer
Dance of Change
People Side of Change
The 'Infectious' Spread...
Applying Lessons
Creating Contagious Commitment Introduction



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