The American author, John Butman, has just published his fifth book called “Breaking Out: How to Build Influence in a World of Competing Ideas“. In the book he attempts to unpick what makes some people, idea or intellectual entrepreneurs (Butman’s terms) better at spreading their ideas than others. He suggests seven tips for shifting the mindset in an organisation or network.
Accumulate evidence. To gain influence for an idea, you need an awful lot of supporting material—data, references, cases, stories, and analysis—which can take decades to gather.
Develop practices. An idea is an abstraction that won’t produce change until you provide people with specific, practical ways to put it into everyday use.
Create a sacred expression. Practices without theory are nothing more than tips and techniques. You need to find your best form and use it to create a “sacred” expression—a talk, a video, a written piece, a visual—the most complete, authoritative, and compelling articulation of your idea that you can manage.
Encourage respiration around your idea. The only way to get an idea breathing on its own is to show up, in person.
Include your personal narrative. Idea entrepreneurs always present their idea in the context of their own life story.
Align with a metric. Influence cannot be definitively measured in financial terms, but people need some way to calculate its the value. People associate Malcolm Gladwell’s idea of mastery through the “10,000 hours of practice” metric.
Expect backlash. When you propose a new idea, expect an intense response—from useful debate to useless sniping. An intense response—positive and negative—is a sign that people are taking the idea seriously. No challenges, no point.