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Influence [in-floo-uh ns]
1. the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others
2. the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others

How many times has your opinion of something been swayed before you’ve experienced it yourself? It may have been a food that your sibling convinced you early on was disgusting, so you never ate it as a kid only to discover it was wonderful later in life.  Or maybe a movie that the critics bashed, but you thoroughly enjoyed.  Or perhaps an artist you judged before understanding their motives, their story.

Truth is, it’s happened to all of us.  Most recently with me it is related to a particular book.  Getting into the specifics isn’t important yet, suffice it to say that many in my circle have varying opinions about the author, the content, and even the context of a particular leadership book that has been recently published. And so my opinion was swayed early on.

But many conversations with my children have rested on the principle of making informed decisions … of not relying on what others say, but rather to experience it for themselves before crafting their opinion. How could I … in good conscience as a parent … or as a student of leadership principles and how they relate product management … do any differently in this situation?

After all, you could argue that making the informed decisions is a critical element of the leadership role.  All of us as product managers have been in situations where we are called to:

  • Understand the facts
  • Assess the various alternatives
  • Identify the impacts of acting (or not acting)
  • Accept the positive (and negative) ramifications

Yes I am human, and the Dictionary.com definition of influence I led with in this post rang true … others’ actions certainly influenced my behavior and opinion … at least initially.  But I’ve started reading the book anyway … and as I get through it, I’ll share the title as well as my informed opinion.