Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Steering the Bandwagon

One way we influencers influence others is by generating the illusion that there is a groundswell of support for an initiative, product, or service. This is known as the bandwagon, which calls to mind images of a raucous parade, appearing mysteriously but moving determinedly forward.

The core of this parade is a particularly loud float – the one supporting the weight of a be-tassled brass band.

The bandwagon can be rolled out within companies. A new service initiative, a new human resources strategy, a new accounting system. “Everyone’s on board, you should be on board, too!”

Where the bandwagon came from is less important than where they’re going.

Where are they going?

That’s the magic of the bandwagon method of garnering support. Throw a pro football player up there next to the band, and we’re hooked. We’ll follow that parade into the gaping jaws of hell itself.

Or at least into the grocery store, or the Gap, or Afghanistan, or healthcare reform.

Once the wheels begin rolling, the bandwagon becomes a collection of shiftless individuals who drive forward with the momentum – the most dynamic barnacles – under the misconception they are part of a common cause.

The truth is, the bandwagon is applied as the insidious invention of one or two masterminds (or marketing directors). Seldom are the captains of the bandwagon strategy actually on the bandwagon. They lurk in their foregone conclusions, rubbing their hands, waiting for the rubes with pockets full of money to roll in.

Hard questions are brushed aside, and if one resists the joyous cacophony of the group-think polka, then one quickly finds that the steel wheels of the band slow for no dissenters.
Perhaps the best way to counteract the bandwagon pandemic (band-demic?) is to get on board – and STEER. Join in the banter. Shout with the heady crowd and, by degrees, edge the bandwagon in the right direction.

If you know where the right direction lies, that is.

Consider it a polite highjacking.

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