Notes on “Cascades” by Greg Satell

Power Principles:

  • Power is easier to get and harder to use or keep than it used to be
  • Power has shifted from the top of hierarchies to the center of networks
  • Digital communication has changed these power relationships
  • Hierarchies are often too slow to fulfill their intended functions
  • Small groups, loosely connected and united by a common purpose, can create large, short-term effects called “network cascades”

Change movements:

  • Not all movements are successful
  • A lot of noise is not synonymous with lasting change
  • Effective movements have identifiable characteristics
    • Usually have pre-developed strategies, planning & discipline
    • Are clear about intended achievements
    • Engage a large portion of the population
    • Establish wide and deep linkages among networks
    • Train activists to avoid violence and to defend both sympathizers and detractors
    • Identify key potential supporters and win mainstream allies
    • Undermine foes
  • Movements often take years or decades before a cascade is triggered by a critical density of connections between participating groups
  • Non-obvious and adverse events are used to highlight common values and recruit participants or sympathizers
  • Connection wins, isolation loses


  • Design clear purpose
  • State Values
  • Enlist popular support

More coming from Liza Loop …