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"The Business of Influence" - Book Review

In his book “The Business of Influence” the author, Philip Sheldrake, has attempted to lay the foundation of what tomorrow’s organization will...

In his book “The Business of Influence” the author, Philip Sheldrake, has attempted to lay the foundation of what tomorrow’s organization will look like, how it will interact with and influence all stakeholders and the person(s) within such organizations who will be responsible for managing this influence.


The author challenges some of the traditional thinking and urges us to make the distinction between a person’s influence vs. popularity and expertise and also questions companies like Klout and Social Mention whose models are influencer-based i.e. # of friends or followers a person has, their website PageRank, the number of books, blogs, papers they have written, etc.

 

He recommends that companies adopt a mature influence-centric 2-prong approach which includes (1) focusing on the person who was just influenced and (2) being able to trace “why” they were influenced into buying your product/service.

The book goes on to highlight the 6 key influence flows:

  1. Our influence with our stakeholders
  2. Our stakeholders’ influence with each other with respect to us
  3. Our stakeholders’ influence with us
  4. Our competitors’ influence with our stakeholders
  5. Our stakeholders’ influence with each other with respect to our competitors
  6. Our stakeholders’ influence with our competition

 

While an organization can be immediately relevant by creating affinity and being accessible, influence yields benefits over the long-run. Our behaviors, manifest in our two-way influencing cycle, accumulate to form reputation and trust to form a long-lasting bond with customers.

The author highlights trends in mobile, local, social, privacy, browsers and devices and the various organizational challenges from data ownership, security, permission marketing, etc. they pose for the traditional CMO within an organization. For example, the ubiquity of mobile phones and its continued double-digit growth makes it the single most influential medium we carry around with us. We are influenced by it in various ways almost 20-30 times a day, if not more. Today’s web is slowly morphing to Web 3.0, the semantic web, where conversations and content being generated is being analyzed for emotional and predictive value. The holy grail of telling signal from noise. Companies like Crimson Hexagon and Quora are leading the charge in creating the semantic web.

As for answering the question regarding who “owns” Influence within an organization? Well, those origins must take place inside the boardroom and permeate throughout the organization. The author recommends the creation of the position of a Chief Influence Officer (CInflO) among the C-suite within these organizations.

This person will wield a high degree of influence within and outside the boundaries of the organization. He/She will be highly numerate, digitally native and ambidextrous thinkers with left-brain capabilities in research, analysis and metrics.