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Influence Without Authority, 3rd Edition by David L. Bradford, Allan R. Cohen

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Chapter 12Can You Hear Me: Influencing at a Distance

A U.S. executive, concerned about the security of one of his factories in Korea, ordered the installation of a new alarm system. To ensure that those responsible understood exactly how important the system was, he arranged to inspect it personally. Several weeks later, the executive arrived as scheduled. Four of his Korean subordinates, including the factory manager, met him at the entrance. After appropriate greetings, he walked up and pushed on the door equipped with the new alarm. Nothing happened. No sound at all. The executive was a patient man and understood that sometimes things got confused. He explained very slowly, in precise terms: “When…I…push…on…this…door…the…alarm…is…to…go…off.” This went on [each day] for four days, with the U.S. executive's blood pressure approaching stroke level and his Korean employees continuing to apologize. Finally, the Korean factory manager…pulled the executive aside and asked in a very quiet voice: “Mr. Boss. It is off?”1

Why Influence at a Distance Has Become So Important

A variety of forces have increased the amount of work done at a distance rather than face-to-face:

  • Companies with multiple sites (due to outgrowing their space)
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Advantages of geographical dispersion (reduced costs, closeness to customers or expert suppliers)
  • Greater access to technologies ...

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