In the Ted talk featured above Rory Sutherland, a self professed “ad-man”, discusses how people add value to objects, ideas, and products.
He sites a few hilarious examples. My favorite being Frederick the Great’s attempt to get German people to eat potatoes. Potatoes, Frederick hoped, would prevent famines and decrease dramatic fluctuations in the bread market. However, the 18th century Germans wouldn’t listen. They considered potatoes to be ugly and farmers were even put to death for refusing to plant them.
What did Frederick do? He planted the potatoes in the royal farm and made his guards watch over them. In no time a black potato market emerged because people’s perceptions had changed.
When proactive leaders build coalitions they are occasionally forced to deal with the same forces of perception. You’re coalition could break apart if your perceived legitimacy loses footing or if you fail to respond to critics quickly enough.
Confronting the issue of perception requires a little bit of creativity and the ability to look at problems as opportunities. When your agenda is facing a perception crisis it might not be the result of a real world problem, but rather a failure of your ‘brand’ that stems from your agenda’s lack of social and professional connections.