If you haven’t read it yet, then you likely have at least heard of it: “The Tipping Point,” by Malcolm Gladwell.

PublicCEO would like to point out the many lessons in this book for those in public management.

The book tells us about the value of some people in our society and divides them in to mavens, connectors and salesmen.  

The reality is that public managers often serve with connectors and salesmen.  Those are the people who are often elected to office.  They have lots of contacts in the community or can sell themselves to the electorate.

So what do you do with Mavens?  These are the people that can drive a city manager to the edge of sanity.

Maven comes from a Yiddish word meaning, “one who accumulates knowledge.” These are the people who don’t say their sewer bill went up a little. They say it went up by $.043 cents in 2009, $0.39 in 2010, and $0.49 in 2011.  Mavens expect their Parks and Recreation pamphlet to arrive on March 1st and write a letter to the Mayor and City Manager about it when it has not arrived.  

A public administrator needs salesmen and connectors in the community to help them accomplish their objectives. However, the majority of their time is spent with the mavens.  

They are the ones who call – all the time.

When you are attempting to build confidence in your organization within the community, the mavens are the key.  These are the people who are the key opinion leaders in the community, voicing their opinions and being heard by others as authoritative.

So what is the best way to handle this?  

Just the basics with a little more care.  

Be open, honest and responsive. These are the people who devour Consumer Reports and might even send in critiques to the writers.  They can help your administration or make it a living hell.  Get these people on your side and accomplish more for your community.

PublicCEO.com strongly recommends The Tipping Point for Public Administrators.

Watch out for the mavens.