Part 4 of 4:
Being open to influence is only one aspect of permeability, however. The other crucial aspect of permeability is being able to exert influence.
As I’ve noted, influence mapping is an important means to increasing our influence. Lobbyists can help build an accurate influence map, but they’re not really set up to map decisions in the private sector, and they’re expensive.
How can organizations build their own capacity to map influence? Doing so is an integral aspect of their ability to exert influence and change the world around them. Part of the answer lies in investments in systems and part lies in organizational processes.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) databases are the logical information systems in which to manage organizational influence maps. All it takes are some tweaks to the CRM so that it includes database fields for tracking decision makers, their influencers and the connections between them. It also helps to modify the database so it can track desired outcomes and connect those outcomes to the decision makers who impact them.
It turns out, that’s the easy part though.
The hard part comes with adopting new organizational processes for gathering and managing intelligence that feed these influence maps. Much of this work is similar to organizational processes for managing a CRM database, but there are a few special additional considerations.
Employees need to be constantly on the lookout for information on decision makers who are connected to the organization’s desired outcomes. That also means staying vigilant for information about the people who influence these decision makers and tracking the relationships between them.
Part of what’s needed is an ongoing effort to systematically capture information, but there are also times when organizations need supplement these ongoing efforts with concerted pushes – typically at the outset of setting up influence tracking and whenever the organization takes on major new desired outcomes.
One simple approach to concerted influence mapping entails periodically convening staff for brainstorming sessions to identify points of influence for key decision makers. Once the influencers are identified by a group, staff then breakout to make connections between them and individuals in the organization’s CRM database as well as with their own personal connections on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.
This kind of networking with specific targets in mind, or “directed networking,” isn’t restricted to staff. With some coordination, it can be scaled out to other stakeholders who care about the organization’s success. Putting customers, partners and other stakeholders to work in building an organization’s influence map is a wonderful example of third-order engagement. Think of it as crowd-sourced influence mapping; it helps build loyalty to the organization and dramatically expands the probability of finding connections with important influencers over the decision makers your organization needs to influence.
People truly are the best way to find other people. This is another important example of people acting as the “membrane” that connects the organization with the outside world. This membrane of people is what gives it the organization its intelligence in listening to, and in this case, influencing its external environment.
|Part 1: Change Happens Through People – Even at Walmart|
|Part 2: 5 Steps to Influence Mapping|
|Part 3: Influence: the Flip Side of Permeability|
|Part 4: How to Strengthen Your Organization’s Influence Mapping|