The Place Management Challenge
In our work with places and regions, Place Management is a key factor to achieve positive development in towns, cities, regions, science parks, innovation districts and other places. Place Management deals with professional management and direction for regional and local growth.
As far as we know, the topic of Place Management has not been covered in economic and management literature until we published a book on the subject in 2011, with Christer Asplund as the principal author.
In Europe much of the economic debate in recent times has focused on national economic performance and best practice, or on the European Union and Eastern Europe as a whole. Macroeconomics has a tendency to absorb all the interest while microeconomics is a complex matter full of different microclimates and micro factors and therefore more difficult to grasp.
The national level and its media, the national stereotypes and statistical figures, the national elections, they govern political party dramas and their massive lack of interest of local and regional business trends. This has together formed an impressive hegemony, which sees places and place management as too complex for the broader audience. The conclusion is that places and place managers have often been overlooked as natural actors in wealth building and the creation of a more competitive Europe, both on a micro and a macroeconomic level.
Management is an art that coordinates the efforts of people to accomplish goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively. For business companies, management is about ensuring survival and profit in competitive markets. In places, management is about ensuring positive development and growth.
Successful Place Management’s primary function is the satisfaction of a range of stakeholders all all sectors of society. The stakeholders can be grouped into four sectors, as seen in the Quad Helix model here on the left. We wrote an article on this in 2012.
Place managers are normally under pressure from many stakeholders in the public and private sectors at the same time to deliver on each groups self-interests. Their challenge is to satisfy as many stakeholders as possible, with solutions that develops the place and brings prosperity and economic growth.
Reconciling conflicting interests is a delicate and sometimes frustrating challenge. To achieve results under such conditions presupposes compromise and yet still a lot of brave decision-making to defend the Place Managers vision. All this takes energy from the place manager’s side and the creation of energy through inspired leadership and persuasion is a key challenge.
How can a Place Manager develop his leadership and persuasion skills? There are some books that may be of help. First of all, we promote our book on the topic, as it is directly written for Place Managers with examples and success stories from the challenges they face. Apart from our book, two other books are worth to mention.
How to Win Friends and Influence People
One of the classic books on how to convince people is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Published in 1937, this grandfather of all people-skills books has over decades helped millions of people around the world to improve their lives. I read it myself for the first time when I was a teenager. The book is just as useful today as it was when it was first published, because Dale Carnegie had an understanding of human nature that will never be outdated.
Success, Carnegie believed, is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to "the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership and to arouse enthusiasm among people." He teaches these skills through underlying principles of dealing with people so that they feel important and appreciated. He also emphasises fundamental techniques for handling people without making them feel manipulated.
Carnegie says you can make someone want to do what you want them to by seeing the situation from the other person’s point of view and "arousing in the other person an eager want." You learn how to make people like you, win people over to your way of thinking, and change people without causing offence or arousing resentment. For instance: "Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers" and "talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person."
His advice has stood the test of time and it teaches how to:
- make friends quickly and easily
- increase your popularity
- persuade people to follow your way of thinking
- enable you to win new clients and customers
- become a better speaker
- boost enthusiasm among your colleagues
However in today´s complex world, leadership may require even more elaborated tactics for persuasion.
How to Achieve Real Influence
Another book that can be inspiring for Place Managers in their difficult task to coordinate groups of stakeholders is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University.
Published in 1984 it is a classic book on persuasion and it explains the psychology of why people say "yes"—and how to apply these understandings. The book introduces six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader and also how to defend yourself against them. The six principles are:
Cialdini identified the six principles through experimental studies, and by immersing himself in the world of what he called "compliance professionals" – salespeople, fund raisers, recruiters, advertisers, marketers, and other people skilled in the art of convincing and influencing others.
When you are using approaches like Carnegies persuasion techniques or Cialdini´s six principles, make sure that you use them honestly – by being completely truthful, and by persuading people to do things that are good for them. If you persuade people to do things that are wrong for them, then this is manipulative and it is unethical. A good reputation takes a long time to build, but you can lose it in a moment!
You can use these principles whenever you want to influence or persuade others. First make sure that you understand the people in your audience, who they are and their agendas and self-interests, and that you know why you want to influence them. Think about your ultimate objectives, and decide which principles will be most useful in your situation.
Below is a video about the Science of Persuasion