Robert Cialdini has a modest proposal. He would like businesses to carve out a new role of chief persuasion officer – or CPO for short.
There is self-interest at play here. After all, Professor Robert Cialdini is a persuasion expert and exponent of “persuasion science”. Thirty years ago, the psychologist established his credentials when he published the best-seller Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and became known as the “godfather of influence”. As well as his academic work – today Prof Cialdini is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University – he has sold his expertise to the likes of Google, Merrill Lynch and Nato.
He says “persuasion science” – which draws on psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics – should be deployed in a systematic way. Too often its use is higgledy-piggledy and rarely based on “properly controlled, soundly conducted research” . Which is why Prof Robert Cialdini believes that rather than leave decisions on influencing customers and employees to marketers or human resource executives, they should collaborate with expert chief persuasion officers.
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Now, with co-authors Steve Martin and Noah Goldstein, Prof Robert Cialdini has published another book, The Small Big: small changes that spark big influence. As the name suggests it is about the little things business, policy makers and individuals can do to make a difference.
“When it comes to influencing the behaviours of others, it is often the smallest changes in approach that make the biggest differences,” the authors write. This type of change they name a “small big”.
It is the latest populist book to draw on social science and economics research, while targeting the business audience. It follows the enormous success of behavioural economics books Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by University of Chicago professors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, as well as the Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.
The Small Big – Description
The Small Big: small changes that spark big influence by Robert Cialdini
At some point today you will have to influence or persuade someone – your boss, a co-worker, a customer, client, spouse, your kids, or even your friends. What is the smallest change you can make to your request, proposal or situation that will lead to the biggest difference in the outcome?
In The Small Big, three heavyweights from the world of persuasion science and practice — Steve Martin, Noah Goldstein and Robert Cialdini — describe how, in today’s information overloaded and stimulation saturated world, increasingly it is the small changes that you make that lead to the biggest differences.
In the last few years more and more research – from fields such as neuroscience, cognitive psychology, social psychology, and behavioral economics – has helped to uncover an even greater understanding of how influence, persuasion and behavior change happens. Increasingly we are learning that it is not information per se that leads people to make decisions, but the context in which that information is presented.
Drawing from extensive research in the new science of persuasion, the authors present lots of small changes (over 50 in fact) that can bring about momentous shifts in results. It turns out that anyone can significantly increase his or her ability to influence and persuade others, not by informing or educating people into change but instead by simply making small shifts in approach that link to deeply felt human motivations.