Moving up the Influence Curve

It’s 1971.  I am in my first job as a trainee electronic draftsman in the Postmaster General’s Department, the predecessor to Telstra.  I am asking my boss, “What do the clients think about it taking us two weeks to complete a simple drawing?”  My boss, a 50-something-year-old career draftsman, replies “Who cares what they think. They have no choice….!”  Somehow that didn’t seem quite right to me as a young man and very soon after I pursued an alternative career path.

Skip forward only a few more years and computer-aided design burst on to the scene.  Those very same clients made it very clear what they thought.  With this new technology on their desks, they no longer needed to wait for weeks for those centralised drafting guys to deliver.  The electronic drafting profession was unable to influence the result and was wiped out almost overnight!  Hundreds of people had to find alternative employment.  That’s why most Gen X and Y folk out there have never even heard of an electronic draftsman!

It was a defining point in my career.  It told me that if you are not listening to your clients and continually reinventing your influence, you risk becoming irrelevant.

Similar threats and opportunities are being presented to well-established businesses and industry sectors as a wave of digital disruption sweeps the global economy.  We recently conducted the Big Kahuna Leadership Survey, interviewing 60 influential business and community leaders to find out how well prepared we are for the disruption that is rapidly heading our way.

The main conclusion of this research is that technology leaders need to move up the ‘influence curve,’ to help businesses change the game.  That is, they need to exponentially expand their influence on several fronts.  They need to be able to influence business strategy, boards and senior executives, as well as their business colleagues, customers, suppliers and their own matrix teams.  This is particularly true as they respond to mass consumerisation of IT and significantly reduced barriers to entry for new entrants to the market.  The survey results present a compelling case for action for all technology leaders to listen to the market and elevate their influence or risk becoming irrelevant.  Click here to download the white paper summarising the results.

Influence curve

Love to hear your thoughts – where are you on the influence curve and where do you need to be?  You can leave your thoughts here.

PS: In my newsletter, ‘A Big Game is a Good Game,’ I committed to running 5km by the end of last year.  The journey toward my goal provided me with a number of unintended consequences!  For example, I revised my diet and lost 5kgs.  My general fitness level increased markedly and I generally feel a lot better.  Whilst I did not achieve my stretch goal, I would not have achieved these results if I had set a small objective.  I am continuing to play for my 5km target by 30 June this year.