A Framework for Understanding How to Influence Others

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At ProductTank Oslo, Tanuja Gopal showed how we can use the power of influence in our day to day work, drawing on her experience as the Director of Application and Data Services for MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and previously as a serial CIO in government organisations. While product managers have the role of being at the intersection of many functional teams, they often have little formal authority over direct resources (monetary, scheduling, team member, etc.). Product managers must rely on alliances, goodwill, and influence to carry out their responsibilities.

The Triangle of Influencing Others

Tanuja walks us through the influence triangle; a framework to remind us about three things we should consider. The first thing to consider is to define what you want to influence. Is it a decision? Or perhaps the timing of a decision? Understanding this can help choose a course of action.

Also worth considering is who you would like to influence. Trying to understand them and have empathy for them. There is also a difference between influencing a person to do something they´d like to do, versus influencing them to do something they don´t want to do. How do you persuade someone to do something and make them look good? By understanding where they are coming from.

Last but not least, focus a bit on yourself. Ask yourself if you can stand behind the case your trying to put forward. If you truly believe in the change your trying to implement, you´re likely to seem more trustworthy and authentic. And you´ll increase the power of your influence.

With that framework in place, Tanuja walks us through a set of highly illustrative examples to make the theory and application absolutely clear, and explores some of the challenges that can arise as you try and develop and exert a guiding influence, before wrapping up with some in-depth Q&A.

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