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Creative Inspiration: Influencers, Contagion and Progress


The influence that people around us have on our day-to-day lives, both intentional and coincidental, plays a huge role and the success of our future endeavours can be strangely dependent on it. In a McKinsey Quarterly article, Tapping the Power of Hidden Influencers, the authors discuss a method used to identify the influential people within an organisation and how to utilise them.

Using ‘snowball sampling’ – a method of surveying employees to identify trusted and influential colleagues – management can find employees who have informal influence in the work environment. The article highlights 4 principles for tapping into the power of hidden influencers:

1. Think broad, not deep
2. Trust, but verify
3. Don’t dictate – co-create
4. Connect the dots

Using the powers of those trusted colleagues is a positive example of the influence of others, but as Steven Berglas outlines in Why Are Some People so Critical?, our environment can have a much more detrimental effect. The article, from the Harvard Business Review, discusses how those in denial concerning their own flaws tend to project their discontent onto others. This shows itself in the form of criticism, but is rarely accompanied by proactive solutions to these flaws.

Berglas suggests 3 methods for minimising the negative effects in a work environment:

1. Ignore the faultfinders and reward the problem solvers
2. Encourage transparency and forgiveness to reduce stress
3. Any negative feedback must be accompanied by a solution

Over at Bracket, our friend Alison Coward has reviewed The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, which investigates ‘using small wins to ignite joy, engagement and creativity at work.’ The book offers 3 main principles for fuelling motivation and creativity in employees:

1. Emotion – it can’t be separated from work and has a direct effect on creative output.
2. Perception – how they perceive the organisation.
3. Motivation – intrinsic motivation, such as being assigned meaningful work, is more effective than reward systems.

Shane Parrish from Farnam Street has written this week about Jonah Berger’s book, Contagious: 6 Reasons Things Catch On, based on 10 years of research. The article takes both a classical and modern view of methods for memorable content and speech, looking at the similarities between Aristotle’s insights and those of Berger and Katherine Milkman, who analysed over 7,000 articles. They found that Aristotle’s 3 principles for effective and memorable speech – ethical, emotional and logical appeal – could be applied to successful content today.

Bob Weinlick from Think Jar Collective published the second part of his interview with creativity veteran Michael Michalko this week. On first glance, some of Michalko’s answers seemed a little far reaching, but his examples demonstrated the true effect these problem solving techniques have.

He advocates the use of random words and tarot cards as a method of introducing a random element to create new thought processes; for example, picking a random word and finding a link between the word and the problem. He also suggests the discussion in schools of the thought processes that lead to famous discoveries, rather than merely the facts surrounding the inventors and their inventions. This is a practice that would certainly benefit both adults and children.

Five more things we enjoyed reading recently:
Essential qualities of entrepreneurs
The tell-tell signs of a creative person
6 megatrends of corporate transformation
Google’s methods for continued progression
The allure of artistic eccentricity

Photo Credit: Joel Bedford via Compfight cc

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