My Headline Persuasion Rule should drive any serious persuasion effort and it separates the mavens from the muggles instantly. Muggles extemporize, displaying either or both arrogance or authenticity. Mavens think a long while first. And they think about the Strategy, the Big Goal, because they know if you don’t get the Big Goal right, nothing else matters. Today I’ve got a serious, real world example of that strategic planning for persuasion.
Consider the strategy inherent to these questions.
1. Does Israel have the ability to cause severe damage to Iran’s nuclear sites and bring about a major delay in the Iranian nuclear project? And can the military and the Israeli people withstand the inevitable counterattack?
2. Does Israel have overt or tacit support, particularly from America, for carrying out an attack?
3. Have all other possibilities for the containment of Iran’s nuclear threat been exhausted, bringing Israel to the point of last resort? If so, is this the last opportunity for an attack?
This, according to a published article based on face to face interviews with key Israeli leaders is how they are thinking about responding when and if they believe Iran will possess nuclear weapons. The long article develops their strategic planning over the past ten years and the following tactics. In many ways, the article is a blueprint for thinking and acting, strategically and tactically. I highly recommend that anyone who pretends to persuasion maven status read it.
I observe and approve of the clear-eyed or hard-headed focus on concrete outcomes. The strategy produces observable, countable, physical changes. There’s no flowery self-persuasion as if you need to justify the strategy to yourself. It directly aims at doing explicit activities at an explicit group of Other Guys. A persuasion plan falls naturally out of the strategy behind these three key points.
The three key points also provide a great hierarchy of concerns. The first concerns sheer ability and enhancing that. The second concerns allies and public opinion. The third seeks alternatives to the first point. You know how to prioritize with this hierarchy and you also understand you need to address all three simultaneously.
The article then develops how this strategy has played out and is playing out in tactics, some of which I consider as persuasion plays rather than power plays. Even events that involve killing people function more persuasively than just the removal of a key Other Guy. Such violent acts frighten some Other Guys who remove participation or support for the Iranian project – that’s delay and damage. These acts also encourage internal dissenters and opposition. Finally, these acts force potential allies to think about the Iranian project.
It’s also interesting to note how talkative these Israeli leaders are right now. Normally you associate silence with Israel on issues like this. They do or don’t do what they do and always refuse public comment on everything. The fact of their public talk demonstrates a more clear communication application of persuasion than the persuasive effects of killing lead scientists. Consider this quote from Ehud Barak, the defense minister of Israel.
At various points in our conversation, Barak underscored that if Israel or the rest of the world waits too long, the moment will arrive — sometime in the coming year, he says — beyond which it will no longer be possible to act. “It will not be possible to use any surgical means to bring about a significant delay,” he said. “Not for us, not for Europe and not for the United States. After that, the question will remain very important, but it will become purely theoretical and pass out of our hands — the statesmen and decision-makers — and into yours — the journalists and historians.”
Here the Israelis are using fairly traditional persuasion – interviews with journalists – as a persuasive tactic in the service of the three key points. This interview and in particular this quote speaks directly to the second key point regarding allies. We see an Argument from Barak regarding the Iranian nuclear project and what should be done and that Argument is aimed squarely at allies, especially the US.
Regardless of your opinion on this issue, please see the persuasion planning and execution in it. Focus on the three key points that express the strategy and their implications for persuasion. Learn how to devise strategy that is this clear, behavioral, measurable, and operational.