Like you’re a chemist, biologist or musician, ask yourself, What are my chemical elements, my species, notes and scale?
In the writing of the landmark book, The Elements of Influence (Dutton/Plume), we asked a question as Dmitri Mendeleev, the creator of the first periodic table of chemical elements, might prefer it: What are the atoms of influence? Here’s where we mined for the golden answer:
Goals, strategies, tactics, outputs, outtakes, outcomes, ads, news articles, mentions, hits,language, words, messages, stories,tone, sentiment, perception, behavior, credibility, awareness, trust, authenticity, reputation, brand, relationships, stakeholders and media.
While each is common to influence professionals, only a few could be reduced. And only one could be reduced into a finite and manageable set: Strategy. Words, some have argued, are the organizing units of influence. And if not words, then stories. Others believe them to be reputation or brand. But clearly there are too many words or stories around which to form a management system. And reputation and brand are better defined as outcomes than units.
If strategies can be thought of as plans, approaches or policies, and if they can be thought of as the bridge between objectives and execution, then we believe they can be identified, described and organized. Through expert interviews, literature review, field experience and testing in major companies and graduate classrooms, we have developed The Standard Table of Influence and its 24 unique plays, each having satisfied four criteria (shown right).
What are these most basic units of influence? They’re Influence Strategies. Here’s our definition: A stratagem, irreducibly unique, employed by a person, organization or surrogate to improve mutual or competitive advantage through methods and means of influence. (Syn. Play, Influence Strategy, Influence Stratagem).
What began as a simple taxonomy has evolved into the first complete ontology and decision system of strategy and influence. By thinking small, we’ve described something big.