Influencer | Kerry Patterson

Summary of: Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change
By: Kerry Patterson


In the book ‘Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change’ by Kerry Patterson, the readers are offered valuable insights into the process and power of shaping the world for the better by influencing people’s behavior. The summary explores pivotal elements of effectively influencing others such as having a clear and tangible goal, focusing on critical behaviors to yield maximum impact, and employing techniques like motivational interviewing and storytelling. It also emphasizes the importance of working together to achieve shared ambitions, using rewards strategically, and leveraging surroundings and objects to shape behavior.

Effective Ways to Influence the World

To positively influence the world, you need to have a measurable goal and focus on the behaviors that will get you there.

Wanting to make the world a better place is a noble aspiration, but it takes more than just desire to actually make improvements. To have a significant impact, you need to start by identifying a specific goal that is both measurable and attainable within a set timeframe. For instance, Dr. Don Berwick’s goal was to save 100,000 lives by a certain date, which he achieved by implementing concrete plans to decrease the mortality rate of patients who use healthcare.

In addition to having a clearly defined goal, it’s also vital to concentrate on the behaviors that will help you reach it. Focusing on two or three behaviors that will yield the most significant impact can go a long way in achieving your objectives. For instance, Dr. Wiwat, Thailand’s Minister for Public Health, targeted the behavior of heterosexual sex workers in his campaign to cut the AIDS rate in Thailand, which resulted in the country not becoming the one with the highest percentage of HIV-infected persons.

In conclusion, to positively influence the world, you need to set a specific and measurable goal and focus on the behaviors that will help you achieve it. This approach has worked for individuals like Dr. Don Berwick and Dr. Wiwat and is a valuable lesson for anyone looking to make a real impact.

The Most Effective Methods of Persuasion

If you aim to influence someone’s behavior, you need to persuade them, not force them. This summary explores effective methods of persuasion, such as motivational interviewing, giving people the chance for real experience, and storytelling. Motivational interviewing involves using open-ended questions to guide someone to think about their behavior without pressure. Giving people real experience about a certain issue helps reinforce their commitment to it, such as when Dr. Don Berwick advised hospital CEOs to investigate injured patients after a patient safety seminar. Storytelling is a powerful tool to bring about lasting behavioral change. Martha Swai’s radio program “Twende na Wakati” effectively used storytelling to change the behavior of the Tanzanian people by creating a character who reflected the people’s transgressions. Providing people with real experiences adds depth to their understanding of the issue.

The Power of Collective Influence

Many people believe that being an influential hero means solving problems by themselves. However, true influence often results from working with and inspiring others to achieve collective goals. This can be accomplished by identifying and supporting groups with shared aspirations. Dr. Muhammad Yunus demonstrated this by creating the Grameen Bank to provide small credit to groups of five people in Bangladesh. This collaboration significantly reduced poverty levels.

Sharing individual problems with others is also crucial for achieving goals through collective influence. Admitting one’s weaknesses and needing help can result in better outcomes. In software development, admitting to needing new deadlines is known as “project chicken.” Although it may seem undesirable, it leads to effective problem-solving and direction. Overall, collective influence is vital for making a significant impact.

The Power of Rewards

Rewards, when given wisely, can positively influence behavior and strengthen commitment. However, they can backfire and exacerbate negative behavior if misused. To prevent this from happening, it is important to understand psychological patterns and not rely solely on rewards as a substitute for motivation. Dr. Stephen Higgins’ use of vouchers effectively increased the percentage of cocaine addicts who completed their treatment program. Nevertheless, it is crucial to ensure that rewards do not encourage negative behavior and instead complement intrinsic motivation.

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