Customer Review

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Full of interesting insight into human behavior, 15 Oct 2007
This review is from: Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, First edition (Hardcover) (Hardcover)
I tend to carry a lot of pessimism into a book such as this, partly because I'm exceedingly individualistic, partly because I consider the vast amount of sociological self-help books to be pure hokum, and partly because I know that I am personally way too messed up in the head to be radically "improved" by the contents of a single book. I also have a latent fear that a book such as this is somehow going to be a manifestation of that infernal Who Moved My Cheese? book. Believe it or not, however, I found Influencer to be a valuable read, as it provides a lot of fascinating insight into the workings of the human mind. Whether you call it motivation or manipulation, it is the authors' contention that you can change virtually anything by understanding and implementing the types of techniques and strategies they identify and expound upon in this book.

To be a true "influencer," you have to change your way of thinking, according to the authors. The real secret is not to concentrate on producing the outcome you desire; instead, you must target the behaviors responsible for producing that output. You absolutely have to change behavior patterns in order to yield the results you are after. It takes work, experimentation, etc., but baby steps in the right direction can ultimately lead to giant leaps in virtually any aspect of life, not just business. The authors identify and discuss six sources of influence which you must address in order to bring about and sustain comprehensive change. Success requires deliberate practice, a lot of honest feedback, the setting of mini-goals along the way to keep people motivated, flexibility and mutual collaboration, etc. There really are no magic formulas here; the influence strategy you ultimately adopt must be personalized and comprehensive if you are to succeed. If you don't truly understand the behavior in question or you try to pick and choose between different sources of influence, you will most likely fail in your endeavors.

The authors do a good job of showing why the most simplistic agents of change do not work very well at all. You don't have to be the parent of a teenager to know that lectures rarely yield the desired results. The more you yell and threaten, the less likely you are to get what you want. On the other hand, you would think that incentives and rewards for desired behavior would work well, but the authors show how this strategy can also backfire. So how do you enable these all-important behaviors and forge a workable strategy? The authors boil it down to three things: improving personal mastery through deliberate practice, working with others to build personal capital, and changing the environment. It is amazing how you can influence human behavior just by making even the smallest of changes inside a person's environment. For example, I know that complaints about the slowness of a certain business software program declined significantly after the words "Please Wait" were replaced by "Processing." The program wasn't one bit faster than it used to be, but people thought it was simply because it was no longer prompting them to wait. The authors pack this book full of even more telling examples than this, offering empirical evidence for every recommendation they endorse.

This book hasn't radically changed my life, but it has given me a lot to think about. I would definitely recommend it to a wide range of readers, as it is more of an idea book than a practical guide aimed at a specific audience.
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