Influencer

Influencer was written back in 2007 but a friend lent me her copy and I have to say, it's the best read so far this year for me.  As a Product Manager, my work is all about influence.  The powerful concepts in this book coupled with rich stories will be very influential to my work, no pun intended.

1. Search for and establish Vital Behaviors. When it comes to influence, it's about establishing behaviors at the end, not just talking about goals.  Don't confuse means (behavior) and end (goals).  After you decided on your goal, you need to identify the vital behavior and the recovery behavior that will march towards the goal.  Recovery behavior is the behavior you desire if you "fall off the wagon" of the vial behavior.  Then focus on establishing those behaviors.  Talk is cheap, adherence to behavior is measurable and a sure sign that you are marching towards your goal.  To establish the vital behaviors,study positive deviants, those people or groups who have succeded despite the odds.  Study them to identify vital behaviors. An example is Dr. Silbert's Delancy Street project in SF.  In her project to reform repeat crinimals she focuses on two vital behaviors:  1) take responsibility for someone else' success and 2) call out misbehaviors.  These two behaviors directly challenges the rules of the "street" which are 1) only look out for oneself, and 2) never rat out your friend.

2. When it comes to persuasion, you need to help others answer 2 questions:  1) Is it worth it?  2) Can i do it?  If you want to change behavior, change one or both of these expectations.

3. The great persuader is personal experience.  If you cannot place your target directly into that experience, create a surrogate for the actual experience.  Create a vicarious experience.   For example, in one study they were helping targets overcome snake phobia.  By having the targets observe another person handle a snake, they were able to open up to that idea and eventually work up to handling the snake themselves.  That's why story telling is so powerful for changing minds. Concrete and vivid stories exert extraordinary influence because it transport the listener from a role of a critic to that of a participant.

4. Enlist social support through opinion leaders.  Opinion leaders are people who are: 1) viewed as knowledgeable about the issue at hand, 2) have other people's best interest in mind 
and are therefore viewed as trustworthy.  

5. Always use extrinsic rewards as your third motivator.  You must do you work with personal and social motivators first.  And if you've done your work with both personal and social motives, symbolic awards take on enormous value.  Instead of awarding pricey awards, provide smaller awards targeted at desired behaviors (not outcomes).  Remember, symbolic gold stars that cost 20 cents can hold enormous value.

Because this book is so full of goodness, here are a few bonus lessons:


6. Below is the chart that helps you quickly visualize the different dimensions of influence.  You must provide motivation and ensure ability across personal, social and structural dimensions to exert maximum influence.




7. Find Strength in Numbers - leverage the power of many. Build social capital, you cannot succeed on your own. "Each one teach one."i

8. For personal development, seek immediate feedback.  Four hours of guided instruction in context is better than months without feedback or with delayed feedback.

9.  "Turn a me problem into a we problem."

There is simply too much goodness to do the book justice here.  Have a read.