Who do you need to bring into your orbit? If you
are runnng an association, perhaps you are looking to increase Hispanic
participation, attract younger members, or engage movers and shakers in
your industry. If you are running a business, you want your ideal
clients to come to you. If you are a non-profit, you may be hoping to
attract high-dollar donors in your fundraising efforts. And if you are
running a change program, you want the key influencers to seek you out
to be part of your efforts.
Gravity is what it’s all about, getting people to
come after you instead of you going after them. This reversal in the
relationship dynamic is very important. Here’s why: When your key
stakeholders seek you out, you are in a position to set the
circumstances for success. When you are pursuing them, you never know
what you might have to cope with, from unfavorable environmental
factors to their cockamamey ideas of how best to work together.
When I was a math major in college at Indiana
University I took two electives, Astrophysics,
and the History and Philosophy of
Space and Time. Both of these classes used a particular visual
image to portray gravity. It was a large rubber sheet of graph paper
with the planets sitting on it. The more massive the planet, the deeper
the well that forms around it.
When an object, like a comet, approached this
planet, its path could be traced along this stretchy sheet. If it was
going fast enough, it would dip in towards the planet and then shoot
out the other side in a slightly different direction. But, if it was
going slower, it would get caught in the planet’s gravitational field.
Then it would circle round and round without leaving. This is the
power of gravity. It pulls in people and attention causing them to
orbit your world.
To truly lead in your market, whatever it may be,
you must cultivate this gravity.
Let me give two short examples. First, the press.
When the press comes looking for you through no action of yours, you do
not know the context and have little influence over how they portray
you. You are playing with fire. But, when you attract the press because
of a press conference you convene, you control the circumstances of the
interaction and are in a position to emphasize and convey what is most
important. I am not advocating spin. I am simply saying that when you
are in control you can guide the focus to what’s important.
Another example is bringing in a group of your
most important stakeholders. Let’s say you are conducting outreach to
raise public awareness of your brand and mission. If you solicit
them, through direct mail, telemarketing, ads, you never know how your
message will be lumped together with other priorities (and most often
drowned out in importance). But, if you hold an alluring event to
address the issues your most prominent stakeholders are wrestling with,
they automatically place you in an advantageous position as someone who
understands their needs and is doing something about it.
What is the most effective way to create gravity?
Highly customized events, where every aspect of the interaction has
been purposefully designed to serve their needs. That’s the ultimate
use of face-to-face. The more removed you are, the less your
Most initiatives can derive greater impact from a
small number of personalized events rather than a large number of
generic events. It’s an 80-20 situation. 20% of your stakeholders wield
80% of the impact. So, design events that bring them together in deeply
satisfying ways and you will have your most valuable stakeholders
seeking you out.
Seth’s News Feed
Obama is keen on innovation to cut through current
economic travails. He has articulated a national vision in which
innovation plays a key role. In this Fast Co piece I pull out 9
excerpts from his recent State of the Union, all on innovation.
Organizational change is dead... because
organizations are no longer what they once were. In the not too distant
past, organizations really were little societies with real boundaries
that did a pretty good job of keeping the outside world out. But, no
more. Today organizations are not much more than mental constructs for
delivering value, which is a good thing. If you hope to improve your
company’s performance, you better learn how to work with the social
systems, and not limit yourself to or be limited by the organization.
Here are three principles for getting change right.