Malcolm explains, in a very understandable way, the law of the few; Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen. These are the three different personalities needed for a new idea to become epidemical. He talks about social epidemics. He then further explains the concept of stickiness factor, and the power of context.
What has this to do with things we are interested in? Graig Larman calls introduction of agile development methods a paradigm shift. When you introduce an idea of this magnitude, what you are doing, is asking people to unlearn much of their current knowledge. We of course know that the old knowledge is by no means useless, we just need to update it with some new knowledge. Never the less, introduction of agile methods and lean thinking is a novel idea in most organizations. The theories and concepts presented in The Tipping Point help us to understand the process of making this change and getting it to last. I have learned a long time ago, that it is not enough that you understand, you need to get others to get it as well.
Let's see what these theories in my opinion tell about agile intervention. In many cases, especially early in the decade, agile methods were introduced to organizations by younger champion developer, usually from position of no power. They just happened to be interested in learning and continuous improvement. They read a lot, they go to conferences, and they talk to fellow craftsmen. Furthermore they like to analyse the new things, and then tell these ideas to others. They are the Mavens. If things go nicely they will meet a Connector at some point. Connector knows everyone inside the organization, and knows who to talk to in order to get the change started. After the initial start, to make the idea of agile development really tip, we need extra ordinary people called Salesmen. They are the ones that can translate the ideas and experience reports so that we can communicate with lots of different people in order to get real structural changes to happen in an organization. Agile coaches and consultants are a good bet at this if you can not find someone in your organization fast enough. On top of that agile is a nice sounding word, and it can help to increase the Stickiness Factor. The first agile pilot project should have importance and wide enough commitment, creating the right Context for the intervention to tip.
Other literature (for example Pinchot, Intrapreneuring: Why You Don't Have to Leave Corporation to Become an Entrapreneuer, 1985) documents the same kind of process. Terms used elsewhere include 'Brain workers' who have the intellectual ability to think in novel ways and are able to argue their decisions. 'Intrapreneuers' are daring in using their vision of innovation regardless of for example political resistance. 'Gate keepers' have strong contacts to the organization's environment and have communicational competencies for making initiatives 'digestible' for the organization. Further a top management mentors, godfathers, or corporate angles are terms used for expressing the need for management commitment in such a venture.
Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push - in just the right place - it can be tipped.