The book looks at change by evaluating how individual changes are the avenues and mechanisms by which larger systemic changes occur. While many books on change talk about change at the organization level and what needs to occur to get the Titanic to shift direction, Influencer addresses the reality that the Titanic is comprised of individuals in the working world. To this end, Influencer gives the reader strategies for individual change in such a way that makes large scale change seem more manageable and more likely to be successful.
Among other things, the books puts forth six steps to compel and support individual change. (1) Its first step is to frame the desired or proposed change in terms of pain points. Essentially, the authors build around the idea that people are best motivated when changes are in sync with intrinsic motivation. Hence, one of the strongest principles of the book is help people see themselves in a manner that simultaneously reflects their personal goals and that is consistent with proposed or desired changes. In short, people have to see in the change something that benefits them in order to fully get behind it. The authors recommend by framing change in terms of pain points because there’s nothing like pain to help one realize his own self-interest. (2) The second recommended step is to search for the vital behavior or trigger that sends the person down the path of the undesired behavior. This is key. Let’s say, for example, the undesired behavior is chronic tardiness to work. The trigger that you’re searching for is the action/behavior that causes the person to be late. Does the person wake up and check social media followed by making a pot of coffee which turns into lounging? The idea is that you can impact the lateness by dealing with the single behavior that sets a series of actions in motion that leads to the undesirable behavior. (3) Once you’ve identified the pattern, then you’ll want to focus on the vital, specific behavior to change. You’ll then work to get the person to see that s/he is late whenever s/he checks social media before getting to the office. Thus, the vital behavior habit that you’re aiming to break is checking email/social media before work. It is important that you don’t confuse outcomes with the vital behavior. An outcome would be the goal or what is achieved by changing the vital behavior, i.e., getting to work on time. This distinction is important because people can find themselves in a position where they understand the goal, can’t figure out what how to achieve it. Identifying the vital behavior is key because you want to (4) avoid change fatigue and dilution as a function of overwhelming people. People experience better outcomes when they can focus on behaviors that can be tied directly to success. If it becomes difficult to identify vital behaviors, leaders should (5) look for positive deviance. Essentially, this means looking to people who are experiencing success in the areas where others are failing and identifying what they’re doing differently. It is important to determine what these individuals do differently, but it is also important to observe what the people around them are doing when they experience success. Finally, you have to anticipate failures and (6) establish recovery behaviors.
After Influencer lays out the aforementioned steps, the authors discuss different types of reinforcement actions alongside compelling conclusions about rewards (you’ll have to read the book to get those nuggets!) and how to go from individual success to team and group success.
Would I recommend it? Without reservation!