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Famous Australian sociologists 'Hamish and Andy’ just released a book that sold out before it was even printed - POWER MOVES - about how to ‘win over’ people in (almost) any social situation.

the book 'Power Moves' is ultimately about the influence of people on other people.

Which got me thinking about the influence of people on our work, and how we can be using ‘power moves’ for positive effect!

The influence of people on other people

Andi is in her early thirties, lives in sunny Queensland, and never ran until one day she casually met a friend for coffee. At the time she didn’t think she could run, in fact she didn’t really think about running, and, she’d never have envisioned herself as “a runner”. But through the powerful influence of other people, that has changed. That friend kept talking about a thing called parkrun, and asked Andi if she wanted to come along. It was free, 5k, and anyone could run, or, walk it.

One year later, Andi is ‘a parkrunner’, and completely sees herself as ‘a runner’.

We interviewed Andi (not her real name) recently as part of our ‘STEPPS to SIGN UP’ study, and she provided us with a classic example of the influence of people, on what people do. The powerful influence on what we sign up for (and whether we show up again).

parkrun & a powerful movement

You've probably heard of it, as parkrun is celebrated as a global success story, and for good reason. COVID aside, just under 4,000 parkruns are across the world every Saturday morning, with nearly 10 million of us having done a run.

parkrun is a perfect example of the people influencing other people, powering the growth of a global movement.

Using the force - STEPPS to Success!

When people experience a parkrun, while there are functional elements of value – the organising of people, it is the social value – enabling people to connect more, to belong more, that is of greater value. And the powerful influence of other people, the 'social forces', the norms, the social status, even the accountability to each other, that is what really influences people. And that in turn allows them to do more, to become more, like in Andi’s case, to become ‘a runner’.

Andi & parkrun – the influence of shared & social experiences

Andi’s relationship with parkrun is a great example of how we can harness 'power moves', where people influence other people. Andi heard about it from a friend, whose evangelism was a convincing and powerful voice to be listened to.

“She just kept talking about parkrun, her new buddies and how much I would enjoy it”

Word of mouth will always be the number 1 reason people hear about your events and activities, and 'WOM' is also so valuable because A. it is free, B. it is trusted – in that people (usually) believe what people tell them - and C. it is targeted - as people (usually) tell people the things they think they will want to know!

As Andi says “she knew I was keen to be more active but I needed some ideas of what to do – something easy and, I needed a bit of a push! “

How do we design power moves – and use these social forces?

The influence of the people around your participants, on your participants, comes in many, powerful ways. Social effects, norms, and social proof decide what people do, while social currencies and social networks decide what they say and share.

Together, these 'social forces' decide whether people will sign up, who and how many people they show up with, and what they say about you to those people around them.

So parkrun uses the social elements, the positive influence of people on each other, and it is central to its global success. The influence of people on other people occurs between individuals, and is replicated person by person, to bring new parkrunners in, one by one, to build the local parkrun communities, and to ultimately form this global gathering of likeminded people.

I spoke with Tim Oberg, the man who brought parkrun down under on the new Sport Experience podcast, and he spoke about this person to person ‘social experience’ being central to the success of parkrun. It is what drives people to sign up, and to show up and share the experience again, and again. And to bring others with them*.

* This is also one of the key observations I’ve made with our 'Pulse checks' (like a 'mystery shopper' observing events and sessions - where we learn from the ‘gold standards’ in participation experiences).

A key learning was that the success of parkrun is largely down to the powerful influence of people on other people.

We talk about all of this in our 'Experience Design for Events' series, and more specifically to sport in the 'Sport Experience Design' classes. And also in new '2021 Sport Experience Game Plan' eBook.

You can access them all for free, today!

Hamish & Andy’s biggest power move – co creation + co design

I'm guessing you know Hamish & Andy aren’t famous sociologists, but they certainly have a great understanding of what experiences people are drawn to. This book, and their incredibly successful shows, have been based on involving people.

One very clever but influential thing they do, is to involve their audience in each and everything they create. Their show is all about their people providing their stories, and like in this book, it works. They have ‘co-created’ their way to amazing success and harnessed the powerful influence of other people as they went.

I think the ultimate power move of the book was in the making of the book itself - using people power - a book created by the audience - for the audience.

Hamish and Andy have remained massive and relevant largely due to their ability to involve the audience in the experience, and they obviously know that the more they do that, the more valuable the content is going to be.

Co-create, Co-design, Collaborate

You and I can do this as well, we can involve our audiences in designing experiences, we can make sure they are actively involved in the experience itself, and we can ensure they influence each other as they go. It can all be achieved, it’s all in the way you go about designing and delivering your experiences.

The more your audiences are involved in the experiences you're creating for them, then it’s going to be more valuable for them, and for you.

I find this plays a powerful role in the events and activities that we provide, but also in the meetings and workshops we have behind the scenes. It’s always amazing to see how the ideas are already within the people you’re working with.

So if you can harness these for positive effect - that might be your ultimate power move.

If you need some help with that, please let me know.

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