Robert Cialdini has a modest proposal. He would like businesses to carve out a new role of chief persuasion officer – or CPO for short.
There is self-interest at play here. After all, Professor Cialdini is a persuasion expert and exponent of “persuasion science”. Thirty years ago, the psychologist established his credentials when he published the best-seller Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and became known as the “godfather of influence”. As well as his academic work – today Prof Cialdini is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University – he has sold his expertise to the likes of Google, Merrill Lynch and Nato.
He says “persuasion science” – which draws on psychology, neuroscience and behavioural economics – should be deployed in a systematic way. Too often its use is higgledy-piggledy and rarely based on “properly controlled, soundly conducted research” . Which is why Prof Cialdini believes that rather than leave decisions on influencing customers and employees to marketers or human resource executives, they should collaborate with expert chief persuasion officers.
Now, with co-authors Steve Martin and Noah Goldstein, Prof Cialdini has published another book, The Small Big: small changes that spark big influence. As the name suggests it is about the little things business, policy makers and individuals can do to make a difference.
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