Chapter 5. The Do Loop – The Eight Skills of Adaptive Foresight

Skill 6. Influence (Market thinking)

Another key type of foresight thinking is influencing. Influence is a key way the foresight professional communicates the value of their work, and motivates the client to execute foresighted strategy and plans. Personal influence starts with understanding the mindset (world view, assumptions, emotional state) of the client and their culture, which is often less future-oriented, and more change and risk averse than the foresight professional’s own mindset. Learning self-restraint, and knowing when saying less will yield more results, is a major part of the learning curve of many young practitioners. As mentioned earlier, books like Covey’s The Speed of Trust (2008) and Reiger’s Breaking the Fear Barrier (2011) will help the foresight professional understand their client’s current innovation capacity and their own potential for influence, and offer guidance for ways to grow influence. The more times the Do loop can be run by the client and the foresight professional together, achieving and documenting small wins, the more credibilty can be built for subsequent major foresight initiatives.

Influence is also a key skill our clients need to succeed in the market. We human are all natural imitators and influencers, and have been since the birth of our species. Here’s a good story: two million years ago a few of our Homo habilis ancestors, after millennia of being the favorite food of jaguar-sized cats, picked up sharp rocks and clubs to defend themselves. What made our species special is not the tools themselves but our inclination to use them in large numbers, imitating each other, to suddenly become the dominant life forms on the savannah. Human beings are always selling ideas and behaviors to each other. Our species great imitative and influencing strengths are also at times weaknesses, as manias, fads, and urges to mass conflict can also take hold of us at times.

Today, media and markets are our greatest way to quickly influence others into mass behavior. Thus for modern organizations, the key influencing specialties are Marketing & Sales Management. Advertising, Business Development, Lead Generation, Market Research, Customer Service, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are all applications of this skill. The American Marketing Association (AMA) is a key marketing practitioner community, and the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) a leading sales practitioner community. 

Carnegie (1937)

Carnegie (1937)

Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1937/1998) is the classic primer on personal influence., which we considered in Chapter 2 (Personal Foresight). Warren Buffett called this “the most successful self-help book of all time.” Like other classics, it is worth reading multiple times, until its advice is emotionally and cognitively automatic. But as reviewer Andrew Parodi reminds us on Amazon, according to Kemp and Claflin’s biography, Dale Carnegie: The Man Who Influenced Millions (1989) Carnegie intended to include a final chapter, about the need to take a break from, or establish borders and reduce contact with, that subset of people you can’t get along with.

Carnegie left this unfinished chapter out of the manuscript when offered a trip to Europe. That decision gave us a great book on influence, but one with few lessons about identifying and treating differently that small subset of people whom you can’t influence after many good efforts on your part, due to their extreme, overly dominant, egotistical, unethical, borderline, or sociopathic personalities. Recall that we discussed a subset of such individuals in Chapter 2, in the subsection “A Sixth Trait – Social Dominance?”.

This is actually Relating advice (Skill 7, Relationship Management), but it is worth discussing here, in the context of mutual failure of influence. In such circumstances, it will be your occasional responsibility to seek to get such individuals off your team, or at least out of key management positions. If such an individual is your relationship or business partner or client, and if either of you has been unable to influence the other, despite your best mutual efforts, a relationship holiday or divorce may be the best course for both of you. If limiting or eliminating contact isn’t enough, a lawsuit or direct competitive challenge may be necessary as well. If sued, don’t shrink from defending yourself, but be slow to your own anger and legal action. Personal and commercial success, on your own terms, is always the best “revenge”, if you feel an injustice has been committed against you.

Sales specialty classics that every CMO or CSO should own and use in their organizations are Miller and Heiman’s The New Strategic Selling (1985/2005), for general sales development, and the New Conceptual Selling (1987/2005), the latter for face-to-face interactions. Mack Hanan’s Consultative Selling, 8th Ed. (1970/2011) is also a classic that focuses the sales effort on delivering measurable value to the client, improving their margin, revenue or profit in a clear way. See also Rackham’s inspirational classic SPIN Selling (1988).

Pink (2013)

Pink (2013)

Among more recent books, Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human (2013) and Robert Cialdini’s Influence (2006), are both good primers on the way we use reciprocity, social proof, consistency, commitment, liking, authority, scarcity and other factors to shape our influence over others. Motivational books like Tom Hopkins’ Selling for Dummies (2007) and Frank Bettger’s How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling (1992) will also help you get better at the influence skill.

As with all of the Eight Skills, your psychological traits (eg, extroversion vs. introversion, woo vs command) will greatly influence your baseline influence abilities. As personal traits are slow to change, the best strategy to rapidly grow organizational influence is to recruit team members who are naturally excellent at this professional skill, and give them leadership positions, freedom, incentives, and resources to address key marketing and influence challenges.

Thaler&Sunstein (2009)

Thaler&Sunstein (2009)

In recent years, behavioral and social psychologists and economists are discovering just how strongly and predictably we are influenced by our environment and social networks. Books like Thaler and Sunstein’s Nudge (2009), Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational (2010), and Sandy Pentland’s Social Physics (2014), all make clear that environmental design and our choice of peers have major impacts on our thoughts and behaviors. We take most of our cues from our associates and environment. For example, organ donation rates, savings contribution rates, and many other personal decisions have shown 15-90% increases in participation based simply on switching environmental conditions from default opt-out to default opt-in (presumed consent). The UK government now its own “nudge unit” (Behavioral Insights Team), and the first US Obama administration (2008-2012) employed Cass Sunstein, a pioneer in this area. See Sunstein’s Why Nudge? (2014), for more on how public issues like obesity, smoking, distracted driving, crime, corrections, education, safety, and many others can all be greatly affected by nudging influences. This is a form of “libertarian paternalism” that we can easily predict will grow in all our increasingly foresighted societies in coming years.image179

Foresight consultants use influence in all stages of their work, including the initial client proposal, workshop facilitation, product development, service delivery, and review of their work. To have influence with clients, foresight work needs both relevance and credibility. The message also must be tailored to the client’s abilities and needs, without sacrificing its ability to improve adaptation.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 2. Personal Foresight – Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 2: Personal Foresight

Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 4. Models – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 4: Models

Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 7. Acceleration – Guiding Our Extraordinary Future

Chapter 7: Acceleration

Guiding Our Extraordinary Future (In Process)

II. Global Progress: 5 Goals, 10 Values, Many Trends

Innovation: Our Abundant Future
Intelligence: Our Augmented Future
Interdependence: Our Civil Future
Immunity: Our Protected Future
Sustainability: Our Rebalanced Future

III. Universal Accelerating Change

Great Race to Inner Space: Our Surprising Future
Entropy&Information: We’re Running Down & Up
The Puzzle of Meaning: We Have No Einstein Yet
Trees, Funnels & Landscapes: Intro to Evo Devo
Big Picture Change: Five Scales of Accelerating ED
Transcension Hypothesis: Where Acceleratn Ends?
IDABDAK: Social Response to Accel & Developmnt
We’re On a Runaway Train: Being Accelaware

IV. Evo Devo and Exponential Foresight

Seeing It All: Accel., Diverg, Adapt, Convrg, Decel.
Natural (I4S) Innovation: The Evolutionary Drive
Natural (I4S) Intelligence: The Human-AI Partnership
Natural (I4S) Morality: Why Empathy and Ethics Rule
Natural (I4S) Security: Strength from Disruption
Natural (I4S) Sustainability: The Developmental Drive
S-Curves: Managing the Four Constituencies
Pain to Gain: Traversing the Three Kuznets Phases
Hype to Reality: Beyond Hype Cycles to Reality Checks
Exponentials Database: Measuring Accelerations
TINA Trends: Societal Evolutionary Development
Managing Change: STEEPCOP Events, Probs, Ideas
A Great Shift: A Survival to a Sentient Economy

V. Evo Devo and Exponential Activism

Building Protopias: Five Goals of Social Progress
Normative Foresight: Ten Values of Society
Top & STEEPCOP Acceleratns: Positive & Negative
Dystopias, Risks, and Failure States
Three Levels of Activism: People, Tech & Universe
A Great Opportunity: Exponential Empowerment


Chapter 8. Your Digital Self – The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

Chapter 8: Your Digital Self

The Human Face of the Coming Singularity (In Process)

I. Your Personal AI (PAI): Your Digital Self

Digital Society: Data, Mediation, and Agents
Personal AIs: Advancing the Five Goals
PAI Innovation: Abundance and Diversity
PAI Intelligence: Bio-Inspired AI
PAI Morality: Selection and Groupnets
PAI Security: Safe Learning Agents
PAI Sustainability: Science and Balance
The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

II. PAI Protopias & Dystopias in 8 Domains

1. Personal Agents: News, Ent., Education
2. Social Agents: Relat. and Social Justice
3. Political Agents :  Activism & Represent.
4. Economic Agents:  Retail, Finance, Entrep
5. Builder Agents :  Work, Innov. & Science
6. Environ. Agents : Pop. and Sustainability
7. Health Agents :  Health, Wellness, Death
8. Security Agents :  Def., Crime, Corrections

III. PAI Activism & Exponential Empowerment

Next Government: PAIs, Groupnets, Democ.
Next Economy: Creat. Destr. & Basic Income
Next Society: PAI Ent., Mortality & Uploading
What Will Your PAI Contribution Be?

Chapter 10. Startup Ideas – Great Product & Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs

Chapter 10: Startup Ideas

Great Product and Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs (In Process)

I. 4U’s Idea Hub: Building Better Futures

Air Deliveries and Air Taxis: Finally Solving Urban Gridlock
Ballistic Shields and Gun Control: Protecting Us All from Lone Shooters
Bioinspiration Wiki: Biomimetics and Bio-Inspired Design
Brain Preservation Services: Memory and Mortality Redefined
Carcams: Document Thieves, Bad Driving, and Bad Behavior
Competition in Govt Services: Less Corruption, More Innovation
Computer Adaptive Education (CAE): Better Learning and Training
Conversational Deep Learning Devsuites: Millions of AI Coders
Digital Tables: Telepresence, Games, Entertainment & Education
Dynaships: Sustainable Low-Speed Cargo Shipping
Electromagnetic Suspension: Nausea-Free Working & Reading in Cars
Epigenetic Health Tests: Cellular Aging, Bad Diet, Body Abuse Feedback
Fireline Explosives and Ember Drones: Next-Gen Fire Control
Global English: Empowering the Next Generation of Global Youth
Greenbots: Drone Seeders and Robotic Waterers for Mass Regreening
High-Density Housing and Zoning: Making Our Cities Affordable Again
Highway Enclosures and Trail Networks: Green and Quiet Urban Space
Inflatable Packaging: Faster and Greener Shipping and Returns
Internet of Families: Connecting People Over Things
Kidcams: Next-Gen Security for Child Safety and Empowerment
Kidpods: Indoor & Outdoor Parent-Assistive Toyboxes
Microdesalination: Democratizing Sustainable Fresh Water Production
Noise Monitors: Documenting and Reducing Noise Pollution
Oceanside Baths: Sustainable Year Round Beach Enjoyment
Open Blood Scanners: DIY Citizen Health Care Sensor Tech
Open Streaming Radio: User-Centered Audio Creation and Rating
Open Streaming Video: User-Centered Video Creation and Rating
Open Values Filters: Social Rankers, Arg. Mappers, and Consensus Finders
Personal AIs: Your Private Advisor, Activist, and Interface to the World
Pet Empowerment: Next-Gen Rights and Abilities for Our Domestic Animals
Safe Closets: Fire-, Earthquake-, and Intruder-Proof Retreat Spaces
Safe Cars: Reducing Our Insane 1.3M Annual Auto Deaths Today
Safe Motorcycles: Lane Splitting in Gridlock Without Risk of Death
Shared Value Insurance: User-Centered Risk Reduction Services
Sleeperbuses and Microhotels: Demonetized Intercity Travel
Space-Based Solar Power: Stratellite Powering and Weather Management
Stratellites: Next-Gen Urban Broadband, Transparency, and Security
Touch DNA: Next-Gen Home Security and Crime Deterrence
View Towers: Improving Urban Walkability, Inspiration, and Community

Chapter 11. Evo Devo Foresight – Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Chapter 11: Evo Devo Foresight

Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Appendix 1. Peer Advice – Building a Successful Foresight Practice