The Power of the Second Person


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One way or another, one person initiated everything.

Perhaps, you’ve heard about this before – In every successful business, or campaigns or movements, you need a “critical mass”. In social dynamics, critical mass is a sufficient number of adopters of an innovation (idea) in a social system so that the rate of adoption becomes self-sustaining and creates further growth.

Christian Gmelin (GIZ Bonn) & I conducted a workshop in Berlin last week on the topic of “Learning & Social Media”. One of the examples we used for the workshop is this video.

This video is quite an entrainment.  But it also holds a powerful message. It shows the graphics of leaders and followers. One way or another, one person came up with the idea of doing something, but built on several kind of of people to become self-sustained and promote further growth.

The guy in the video obviously looked weird in the beginning. The idea of dancing in the middle of no-where in a broad daylight seems all crazy. Well, at the end of the video you could see that the whole crowd joined the dance and create a dynamic atmosphere out of the crazy idea of one person.  But this couldn’t happen without the second person who thought this idea isn’t totally weird, but doable.

This invisible “first follower” is the most important person in this video. He is the first person who believed in the idea as much the first person did. When the first guy stands and start dancing, everyone thinks “why a crazy guy dancing half naked”. But once the second guy joins, people see the scene, the potential, and the fun. The second person gives a sense of assurance that something might actually work.

Check out this TED video for more elaboration on this subject.


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