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Making the Right Decision the Easy One

Power in communications means not just understanding the problem, but making the solutions easily understandable and helping people see themselves in the solution

Authors: Allison Jones, Vice President of Brand and Storytelling

The power of influence cannot be understated. On social media platforms, where influencing is a full-on job, influencers can help fledgling businesses rise to prominence and incite desperate warnings from doctors when unsafe beauty hacks go viral. You don’t need hard facts or expertise to influence others, but when you have knowledge, a brand, reputation, and expert networks behind you, influence can be an even more powerful tool to advance changes more widely and more quickly than by simply doing impact-focused work.

Common Future’s influence strategy leverages the work we’re doing in other areas of the organization — the solutions we’re piloting, the research we’re learning from, the people we’re interacting with — and amplifies it so we can talk directly to those who are poised to take action and accelerate our vision for a country where all people have power, choice, and ownership over the economy.

When talking about what it takes to create an equitable and inclusive economy, we often focus on the importance of new narratives — the stories we’re told, and the ones we tell ourselves about why things are the way they are, and how things should be. Until recently, the ins and outs of our economy have largely been left to the ‘experts’; the people in traditional seats of power — our government, our academic institutions, and our largest corporations — to write the rules, develop new solutions, and dictate the narratives the rest of us follow even though all our lives and livelihoods are dependent on the decisions and analysis of that small network. As we stay grounded in what is (the problem we’re solving) and build towards what could be (the solutions we’ve supported), we have to create new stories along the way to sustain this new world and compel people to join in its development.

That latter part, compelling people to join, speaks to influence, an important part of Common Future’s strategy. It acknowledges a critical part of any social change effort: no single organization or group can do it alone so we’d be best served taking what we learn and making it accessible (and exciting!) to others who share our values so they can take action. The world we’re creating is attainable and already exists; it just needs more of us to move attention, capital, and power so it can grow.

In practice this looks like being clear on who we’re trying to reach, understanding what they care about, communicating why their involvement in this work is so important, and sharing strategies and opportunities for building power and wealth in BIPOC communities. As we work with several different communities (policy makers, community leaders, and investors, to name a few) meeting people where they are and doing some translating is a big part of our influence strategy.

The economy is the water we all swim in, surrounding us so completely so as to be nearly invisible and making it particularly difficult to describe and harder still to change. But we’re uniquely positioned to draw people’s attention to the ways our economy isn’t working for us, and to author new narratives about how the economy could work better for everyone.

We’re able to do this because people trust us. We aren’t just a think tank full of unapproachable academics cogitating in a proverbial ivory tower imagining concepts in isolation, and divorced from reality. We’re an organization whose vision for an equitable and inclusive economy is grounded in the diversity and lived experience of our staff and the people we work with, who are themselves doing the hard work of pushing our systems in new directions, expanding our understanding of what is possible, and testing new ideas in a real-world context. From our vantage point as an intermediary, we’re able to see our economy as it is right now and through our pilots and programs, we’re able to see our economy as it could be as well as the path to get there.

We can have the best ideas, do the best original research, and run the best pilots in the world, but if we can’t explain them to others, or just sit around waiting for people to come to us for our insights, it’s a much longer, harder path to success. Our influence efforts make our work accessible across our audiences, build on their trust in us, and help them see how the work might benefit them, and get them to see themselves in the solutions. Influence leverages the real and meaningful insights we gain from our programs and pilots and ensures the key insights we draw from them can be packaged and delivered to the right people to change actions and shape narratives that accelerate the arrival of the common future we envision.

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