Have We Reached a Tipping Point?

Marketing Technology Insights posted an interesting article on tipping points, something we talk a lot about at Seven Stones Indonesia. In the article, Mark Seeman writes that for a business, a tipping point happens when things begin to scale up and if the right tools are harnessed, growth and culture can thrive. However, if they’re not aligned, Seeman suggests, a crisis is likely to develop.

So, what exactly is a Tipping Point?

Even though the term is most widely said to have its origins in the field of epidemiology, when an infectious disease reaches a point beyond any local ability to control it from spreading more widely (it goes viral) but in a non-laboratory environment, you could argue that tipping points hit the mainstream largely because of a book by Malcolm Gladwell; The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, which he adapted from an article he wrote about the AIDS epidemic, the drop in crime in New York City and the social movements that made it happen.

Gladwell demonstrates that tipping points “are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action” and they can apply to crime rates, diseases, TV shows, new ideas, businesses, advertising campaigns, political movements and even whole countries. It’s worth looking at how Gladwell breaks it down. He suggests there are three key components to tipping points:

1: The Law Of The Few

This dovetails in to the 80/20 Principle; a minority of causes, inputs, or effort (the 20-percent) usually leads to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards (the 80-percent.) There are three types of key people in this small minority, and it is these few that cause the success of any kind of social epidemic. These are Mavens, who motivate, educate and influence by sharing their knowledge with friends and family; Connectors, who know a lot of people and have social influence; and Salespeople who naturally possess the power of persuasion. They are charismatic and their enthusiasm rubs off on those around them.

2: The Stickiness Factor

This is a unique quality that makes things “stick” in the minds of the public and this ultimately influences their behaviour. Sticky things compel people to pay close, sustained attention to a product, concept, or idea.

3: The Power of Context

This refers to the situation or moment in history when a trend is introduced. If the context isn’t right, it is unlikely the ‘tip’ will happen. But if it is, like in Indonesia right now, that trend gains momentum.

Put this minority of people together in the right place and at the right time, so the theory goes, and the majority will follow.

In this day and age, a large part of what makes things tip is now digitally dependent and connected, so speed is of the essence.  Seeman says, leaders who are not aware of this tend to believe “that putting in new processes or platforms is in fact overkill and unnecessary.” Like a question of better the devil you know, so you end up doing nothing.

But being behind the digital eight ball in this respect, and at this time in our history, makes it real hard to get back on track and catch up. When popular expectations and needs are ignored, opportunities are missed and momentum is lost. A crisis could develop.

In the case of Indonesia, we’re witnessing an administration that seems to have avoided serious crises and been very much aware of the opportunities and the need to harness the right tools to lead the country into greater growth and prosperity and into Jokowi’s tipping point, which he’s labelled Indonesia’s Golden Age.

This is Asia Pacific’s Time

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report suggests Asia Pacific is changing. “The strong fundamentals, which dramatically improved prosperity and living standards across the region, can no longer be relied upon to address the inevitable continuous disruptions. The era of passive growth is over; it is now time to act. This is Asia Pacific’s time.”

PwC suggest Asia Pacific must now “build a resilient future on five pillars:

  1. advancing the digital economy;
  2. enabling regional enterprise growth;
  3. rebalancing supply chains and fostering innovation,
  4. future-proofing the labour force, and
  5. building towards a net-zero economy.”


If we bring this back to Indonesia and look at each of those pillars, it’s reasonable to come to the conclusion that they can identify the triggers that tip to success. And if we’re tipping, if not already tipped, a surge in momentum and development follows at an even faster rate.

Five Pillars

The administration’s allocation of significant financial and technical resources to advancing Indonesia’s digital economy, is not just to stay competitive. In many respects, it’s eventually intended to lead the way.

Indonesia’s is already the fifth largest country in the world for start-ups, with 2,346, including 2-decacorns and 8-unicorns. According to Jokowi, Southeast Asia’s digital economy is expected to reach USD 330-billion in value by 2025, is forecast to enjoy 20-percent annual growth, and will likely reach USD 146-billion by the same year. That’s just three years away.

Bank Indonesia (BI) is currently working on developing the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), which will be called the “Digital Rupiah,” to provide the public financial sovereignty, support the central bank’s mandate regarding the digital economy sector, as well as increase financial innovation and efficiency. There’s even talk of a Crypto Stock Exchange being established and regulations being set to focus more on local crypto entrepreneurs.

There’s a connection between this and enabling local enterprises to grow through a number of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships (RCEP.) Innovation is being encouraged, particularly digital innovation, and supply chains are being restructured. Earlier this year Tempo reported that during Jokowi’s seven-year term as President, 1,900-kilometres of toll roads have been built across the nation. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but to put it in perspective, that’s over 1,000-kilometres more than has been built over the last 40-years! And now with more than 680-airports (and growing) Indonesia is expected to be the world’s sixth-largest market for air transport in 2034, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA.)

Efforts are being made to re-skill and future-proof the country’s huge labor force with a strong emphasis on MSMEs, and organisations like OK OCE, for example, assist MSMEs with insights, community support, access to networks and mentorship.  Since its inception in 2016, OK OCE has created almost 300,000-jobs in DKI Jakarta and a little over 500,000-nationwide and is active in almost 200-communities across the country. And they’re growing.

While a totally net-zero economy might not be that practical in the short term, serious attempts are being made to move towards alternative energy and away from a reliance on fossil fuels. Hydropower and geothermal plants are being developed and Jokowi’s latest push for EVs, for example, and the increasing number of vehicle manufacturers building factories and facilities, is a sure sign of green things to follow. The (EV) revolution and green energy agenda has attracted some criticism for being too ambitious, but in just a couple of years, progress has been impressive, showing how these earlier policies and plans are now becoming a reality.

Are These Indonesia’s Tipping Points?

A strong, consolidated government, albeit with the odd cabinet reshuffle, has taken steps to centralize all licensing into one body, which was done through BKPM (Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board.) The Omnibus Law was passed. A positive Investment List replaced the negative one. And under a new cabinet, Indonesia has continued to reach out to many countries to develop mutually beneficial trade agreements. Australia, as a key partner, was one of them, EFTA another. And since then, agreements and efforts to improve trade ties have been signed with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China and Japan.  Most recently newswires have been reporting that Indonesia was working again with the EU towards a free trade agreement.

With all these positive steps forward, it was only a matter of time before Indonesia’s credit rating improved, and it did. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) upgraded Indonesia’s growth forecast to 5.4-percent this year, which is up from a previous forecast of 5.0-percent.

It’s arguable that if these steps hadn’t been taken, a crisis could have developed, but instead the opposite has happened. The World Bank has stated that Indonesia is not in a recession and has one of the strongest economies in the world. As if to prove that point, BKPM recently announced Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is at an all-time high.

Have we passed the point of no return and reached a tipping point? It’s worth talking about because these are exciting times for those who believe in Indonesia’s future and at Seven Stones Indonesia, we do. We believe in the power of a positive and creative mindset. We try to help businesses and partnerships grow; we encourage investment and we’re forging relationships with like-minded organisations; we encourage you to do the same. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch with us at Seven Stones Indonesia through

Sources: Thought.Co, Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, PricewaterhouseCoopers – Asia Pacific’s Time – We Must Act Now, 2020, Marketing Technology Insights, Tempo, Antara News, From The Desk of Terje. H. Nilsen Newsletter, OK OCE, ADB, Statista, IATA, Energy Tracker Asia, Bappenas


Published on Indonesia Expat and Seven Stones Indonesia

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