"Influencer: The Power to Change Anything" Offers New Perspectives for Leading Lasting Change

"Influencer: The Power to Change Anything", by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, offers practical strategies for implementing change in the healthcare workplace. 

It's no surprise that healthcare is fraught with change, both imposed and initiated. A quick scan of the health system on any given day produces examples of new technology, promising medications or ground-breaking procedures.

Yet successful implementation is questionable for a majority of those examples. Not because the tool or product is subpar per se, but because leaders typically don't know how to introduce "new" or "change" into organizations...and make the transformation last.

An intriguing book, "Influencer," helps alter that less-than-stellar track record. Written by the team that brought us the highly successful "Crucial Conversations," "Influencer" is a breath of fresh air to change management practitioners and leaders who struggle to get teams from Point A to Point B or perhaps introduce a concept and make it stick.

Noteworthy Quote:

“Smart influencers appreciate the amazing power humans hold over one another, and instead of denying it, lamenting it, or attacking it, influencers embrace and enlist it.”

Of course not just applicable to healthcare, the book is chock full of very practical techniques that extend beyond the normal tenets of leading change. Sure, any leader initiating significant change should consider shared vision, a compelling case for improvement, executive modeling, extensive communications, and other helpful practices. But one won't find those in "Influencer." Instead, the book presents a model based on six core "lenses" through which to examine opportunities to imbed change in practically any situation.

Before I share the six segments, I'd like to focus on the cornerstone idea of the book. The authors posit that only a few "vital behaviors" are necessary to drive real change. These several actions (within any scenario) spur people to alter attitudes and behaviours unlike any other stimuli. And it's by centering on these vital behaviours that a successful influencer achieves long term change. 

As for the six-segment model of influence, the authors offer an easy-to-learn and compelling guide applicable to practically any transformational need. Realizing that change foremost is an individual "choice," the writers base the model on two critical questions asked at the personal level:

  1. Do I want to change?
  2. Am I able to change?

Putting it into Practice

Each of three participant segments is filtered through two perspectives: motivation and ability.

  1. Personal Motivation: whether one wants to do the vital behavior. The model presents ways to make the undesirable desirable and connect to peoples' values.
  2. Personal Ability: whether one can do the behavior. Knowing something and doing something are very different. This segment describes how deliberate practice can dramatically ease change pain.
  3. Social Motivation: whether other people encourage the right behavior. Others' expressed view of a project can assist or destroy. Learn how to tap the power of social pressure by finding strength in numbers.
  4. Social Ability: whether other people provide help, information and resources. One of the biggest enemies of large change efforts is inability to work in concert. Find out how to build enabling groups to reduce risk and avoid blind spots.
  5. Structural Motivation: whether the environment encourages the right behavior. OK, do "things" really motivate? Yes. Discover the use of rewards and how to demand accountability.
  6. Structural Ability: whether the environment supports the right behavior. To most of us, our environment is invisible, and even if we did notice it, we wouldn't know what to do about it. Much of what we do is influenced by environmental forces; learn how to leverage propinquity (I had to look it up, too).

As Sidney Taurel, CEO of Eli Lilly & Company, observed, "Influencing human behavior is one of the most difficult challenges faced by leaders". If you face a need for transformation, consider "Influencer" and its many empowering processes. It can help to ensure the tremendous effort to move to Point B is not in vain, but instead is a profound and sustained improvement.

Gary McClure is Managing Consultant at C3 Consulting in Nashville, Tennessee. He leads the firm's change management practice and has orchestrated numerous transformation initiatives for organizations of all sizes. A large majority of the firm's revenue is derived in the healthcare market. Gary can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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