The Little Book of Big Influence

Success in the modern business world involves influencing people. Persuading them that your ideas are valuable, that your services will deliver, that your plans are worth investing in, that you’re the person to take on the job.

It’s a fast shifting world too in which you have to do this influencing. The network of connections that we are part of and interact with, the critical events that shape policy or markets, the new competitors that emerge. Things happen in hours and days, not months or years. So you need to be able to make your mark quickly.

The shape and culture of organisations also means you can’t rely on traditional levers of influence – age, position and authority. You’re expected to persuade people over whom you have no direct control. To influence up (your senior managers), down (your team) and out (your peers, customers, stakeholders, the list goes on).

How do you succeed in this? When everyone’s attention – your customers’, your boss’, your colleagues’ – is drawn here and there by competing voices and assaulted by information?

To try and help you, we’ve written the idenk Little Book of Big Influence.

It sets out 11 ideas to help you increase your influence. You can get the gist by flicking through it in five minutes. Or you can click on the links and explore the underlying concepts in more detail.

Download your copy here. We can also send bound copies to you or anyone else you think will benefit from the advice it contains. Just email us at

Challenging conversations – some feedback

Last month, we talked about how to intervene when you’re not happy with something. How do you have those challenging conversations with someone – your boss, your colleague, your customer?

We hope these briefings are helpful so it’s great to get some feedback on the things we put in them. So it was great to receive this:

“Your timing is virtually 'magician' standard.

Last night as I arrived home I was pondering a slightly difficult work situation that had dragged on for a while and needed sorting. It involved a colleague, although not one I line manage which always complicates matters. Then, lo and behold, I check my Blackberry and there's a note from you guys about........approaching difficult situations/people.

So, on the train on my way in this morning I read the full bulletin to assist with tactics. Within 5 minutes of being in the office I'd had the 'difficult' conversation but with a mixture of humour/direction and also then had a conversation immediately afterwards in a lift with the individual's line manager to explain what has been happening so we can tackle it together.

There's a whole host of interesting things in there about speed and efficiency and making real use of mobile communications and learning and development but I thought you might like to know people read what you send and make use of it in real time work settings.”

If you’ve found something we’ve written useful, or have any other feedback for us, do get in touch. We really appreciate it.

Get a WOW from your thinking

Have you got an important project that you’re working on that needs clear thinking? Are you getting stuck in the detail? Not finding it easy to put your arguments together? Unsure how to create a great presentation to get your message across?

Our Structured Thinking course helps you make a big impact with your thinking. This is what someone emailed us after attending recently:

“I have just used the tools I learnt to structure something that felt impossible and would have taken me days before....I even heard myself ask the question - 'but is that the right question'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Fabulous fabulous few days”

NHS PCT senior manager

The next open course will be on June 23rd and 24th. You can find details here.

We also deliver this course in-house for teams of between 6 and 12 people. Email us at for more details.

Want more good ideas?

Here’s another round-up on some of the free thinking that’s available from the idenk Ideas Digest. You can subscribe for this here. You can now also opt to receive these via Twitter.

Rescue or rip off?

The luxury cruise ship Celebrity Eclipse has cancelled its launch celebrations in Southampton to help rescue 2,000 people stranded in Spain by the flight disruption who want to get back to Britain. The launch of a £500m boat is a big deal, so it’s quite a gesture. It looks good. The Chairman of the Cruise company described it as “a fitting mission for a ship dedicated to the UK to mark her arrival.”

Of course, they are also getting a lot of coverage for this – all of it positive. Doing this is far better for the visibility of their brand than any launch, however fancy. They deserve it for taking the right stance. By being seen to be generous when people are stuck.

Compare this with how certain airlines have reacted. Some have complained about having to reimburse passengers under long-standing EU regulations. Others have sought to hike prices to take advantage of those desperate to travel. A friend of ours was quoted 6,000 Euros for an economy ticket from Spain to Canada. In strict business case terms, the airlines have a case on both counts. But it doesn’t look good. Their brands and customer loyalty will suffer.

How we deal with ‘distressed’ customers tells us a lot about the organisation we run or work in. It reveals our values and ways of thinking.

Imagine customers in your market in the equivalent situation of the people stranded by volcanic ash. How would you want to act?

A top city? And your personal brand…

A World Class City has at least 10 sights that pretty much everyone in the world (from the Nairobi slum dweller with their shack-TV to the LA mogul with their glossy magazines) would recognise.

The ones that spring to mind? New York, Paris, London. Which others do you reckon?

And what are the 10 things that all who you meet know you for? What is your recognisable brand? What is your promise?

PS a photo from St Pancras Station – not one of the top 10 sights, but attractive anyhow.

Leno, Nehru or Crisp?

Take your pick of these quotes.

Which tickles you?

Which inspires?

Which sums up truth?

Helps progress?

Got the message?

The election is on and the campaigning has started. All the parties are keen to get their message across in the hope that we’ll vote for them.

Are we listening? Do we really take in what they have to say? Is the steady stream of ‘communication’ having any effect on what we think? Or what we will do on May 6th?

This is the common challenge of persuasion – how do you know that people have heard you, that you’re changing minds, getting them to act on what you tell them?

There are four stages to go through:

- they have to take in the information you’re giving them
- they have to understand what that information means
- they have to work through how it applies to them
- they have to act as a result of that.

How do you test each stage?

- ask them to replay back what you’ve told them in their own words (receiving)
- get them to explain to others what it means (understanding)
- challenge them to say how things will be different (believing)
- hold the mirror up to their language/behaviours/work/voting/etc (acting)

Whatever your own campaign is, you can use these too.

Extreme branding

How do you describe your product?

Using the word ‘extreme’ is extreme, but maybe not if you are an ornithologist!

And thinking of little books, download ours on influence here…

More recent articles:

Polaroid passions

Obscuring changes the picture

Selling science sustainably

Modern contrasts

The ubiquitous Post-It

The idenk team

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