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28 November 2008

Another book report

I've been catching up on my reading lately and thought I would share a little more of it with you.

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman is a book about how people can be influenced. From college students living up to expectations to military recruits meeting drill instructor expectations and many other applications in between.

This book makes the case that expectations can influence outcomes. Using multiple examples of psychological studies, the authors show how a first impression or a preconceived notion influenced outcome. One of the most striking examples was a group of military recruits going into basic training. Each recruit was randomly assigned a personality profile showing them to be officer material, average, or below average. The profiles were then shared with drill instructors saying that the researchers were tracking the recruits to see how well their profiling tests worked. At the end of basic training, the drill instructors were then asked to fill out a questionnaire on each recruit about how they did during training. When the results were compared to the original profiles, they matched almost exactly. The drill instructors were then told what the study had shown and most of them had trouble believing they had been so completely swayed.

Reading this book will make you more aware of the ways that you are being swayed every day. From marketing campaigns to your co-workers, you are being influenced. Once you are aware of it, it is possible to resist some of the more obvious forms of influence. However, it is also possible for you to put it to good use when working on projects.

To be a good leader, a person must influence those they are trying to lead. To be a good Project Manager or Business Analyst, a person should also be a good leader. The theories in this book can help you to improve your leadership ability and help you build your team into a more effective one. I highly recommend reading this to anyone leading, or even just a part of, a team.