The Dragonfly Effect: A book review by Bob Morris

The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith with Carlye Adler
Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint (2010)

In this book written with Carlye Adler, Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith explain how to “leverage the power of the new social media to do something that really matters.” They invoke the dragonfly both as a symbol and as catalyst: “The dragonfly is the only insect able to propel itself in any direction – with tremendous speed and force – when its four wings are working in concert. This ancient, exotic, and benign creature illuminates the importance of integrated effort. It also demonstrates that small actions can create big movements. To us, what we call the Dragonfly Effect is the elegance and efficacy of people who, through the passionate pursuit of their goals, discover that they can make a positive impact disproportionate to their resources.”

Others have their own reasons for praising this book. Here are two of mine. First, Aaker and Smith make skillful use of reader-friendly devices inserted throughout their narrative that focus on key points while offering rock-solid practical advice. For example, in the first three chapters:

• Harnessing the Power of Blogging (Page11)
• Embrace: How Design Thinking Works (22-23)
• Cultivating a Human-Centered Approach (25)
• Go Where People Are (39)
• Three Tips for Facebook Presence (43)
• Grabbing Attention Immediately (59)

In certain respects, the dragonfly symbolizes the “what” of leveraging the new social media to do “something that really matters” but the dragonfly also serves as a catalyst for the framework within which Aaker and Smith explain the “how” and, when appropriate, the “why” of achieving that worthy objective.

I also appreciate how skillfully they use acronyms to organize their examination of the four “wings” that provide speed and power to the transformation process. The Dragonfly Model is Focus + GET and these are the acronyms for each of the four wings.

HATCH: Humanistic, Actionable, Testable, Clarity, and Happiness  (Focus, Page 32)
PUVV: Personal, Unexpected, Visual, and Visceral (Grab Attention, Page 66)
TEAM: Tell a Story, Empathize, be Authentic, and Match the media (Engage, Page 101)
EFTO: Easy, Fun, Tailored, and Open (Take Action, Page 139)

Aaker and Smith have an insatiable curiosity to understand what works, what doesn’t, and why. Clearly, they are determined to accomplish something “that really matters”: to share what they have learned with as many people as possible. That is why they wrote this book, with Carlye Adler, and why they urge their readers to check out all the resources at http://www.dragonflyeffect.com/blog/. I agree with Michael O’Malley that there is much of value to be learned from bees. As Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith brilliantly explain in this book, the same is true of dragonflies.


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