A friend sent me a Wall Street Journal article today entitled "Are Heroes Born, or Can They Be Made?" Without realizing it, he hit on a terrific example of a question that Influencer has already answered definitively, and an effort where it would be indispensible for success.
The article describes a non-profit called the Heroic Imagination Project, started by one of the researchers whose work informs Influencer, Phil Zimbardo of Stanford University. Its purpose is to take the fruits of behavioral science research and apply it to training a next generation of exemplary Americans who, as "ordinary" people, will pro-actively speak up and do extraordinary things in support of others. (BTW, that's a great image for what we mean with our mission-language of "making human systems measurably more vital"). The article then goes on to describe the influence strategy that Zimbardo uses to positively impact the behaviors of participants in the program.
What makes me sad about articles like this is that journalists, authors, and commentators who address these "how do you . . ." types of issues – fill in the blank with your favorite, from "solve world hunger" to "eliminate new AIDs infections" to "help people quit over-charging on their credit cards" – do so as if they were discrete problems, having different solutions. They're not – they are all the same problem, a problem of influence, of changing behavior, and they all have the same solution: a proven approach to getting different results by overwhelming the entrenched behaviors that keep us stuck, and entrenching new ones that lead to better outcomes.
Zimbardo is right: we human beings need each other to behave in more productive ways. My wish is for the biggest piece of unreported news to finally be shared: that we already know how to change behavior, and that Influencer gives us the tools for doing it. If enough of us both knew and acted on that, it would make Phil Zimbardo's mission a lot easier to realize.