This is a human world - Part II

Strategy & Innovation

Small changes with a huge influence


Behavioral changes (of your customers, contributors, supplier) are accomplished most effectively with small changes than shock interventions.

In the book The Big Smalli, Robert Cialdini and his colleagues Steve J. Martin and Noah J. Goldstein see how small changes in communications accomplish more.

If you read this book through the lens of an innovator, you can take home quite a few tips to provide your products and services more closely to the customer.



Cialdini is the creator of the six universal principles of persuasion, also known as the Six Principles of Persuasion or Six Universal Truths of Influence (out of his bestseller Influence) that can be used to persuade a customer to do a certain action.

As suggested in the subtitle of the book; this book is all about small changes, for example in text or timing, that can have a huge impact on consumer behavior. Techniques and practice examples are described in 52 chapters in which small changes have led to spectacular results.

The effect of priming

Lots of research suggest that context and environment have a huge impact on our behavior and our decisions. In a restaurant people give waiters a more royal tip if a credit card logo is on the ticket or vote in a more conservative way if the voting booth is in a church rather than a school.

Thus, behavior is largely the consequence of a priming effect: we’re under influence of a single characteristic in the environment which automatically and unconsciously elicits a reaction.

How to utilize this in innovation

How can we use these insights in innovation? For example: research suggests that a high ceiling helps thinking more freely to solve problems. In other words, if you want people to be more innovating and creative, more the ceiling higher.

Another example is the use of someone’s first name instead of their full name. We think more kindly of people whose first name has the same first letter as ours. An important insight if you want to give your product or service a new name. They could perhaps suggest you to choose a luxurious or mysterious name. But it’s actually better to scan and study the list of buyers to get their attention.

This goes on for 52 techniques. Are they all equally useful for innovation? Not really. But some give important insights and concrete solutions.

Being director of our Expertise Center Business Design & Innovation, Maka De Lameillieure can help you with your challenges. 

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