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We’ll come to you.

This secret is well known in the entertainment industry. Imagine you are an agent, and one of your stars earns $3 million per night and you want to bump her up to $4 million a night. How do you do it?

There really is no logical reason that someone should earn more than $3 million for a single performance, so you have to appeal to the emotions. You do this by clustering her appearances and in the midst of the activity book your next set of engagements.

You work for a one-month period when your talent is in Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Minneapolis. During those same thirty days, you get her on the cover of every major magazine and on the air of every major talk show. It’s a helluva month for the talent. She will be in nonstop peak performance mode for the entire thirty days.

She does this because the payoff is enormous. Just before the big month starts, you begin reaching out to all of your contacts, telling them it is time to start planning ahead. As soon as the splash starts—that’s what you call a densely coordinated set of events, a splash—you start cutting the next year’s deals.

The people you are negotiating with notice that your talent is everywhere: on TV, the radio, in the press, playing all the big circuits. She must be packing the houses! They will think that surely she is worth the unreasonable amount of money you are charging.

The same principle works when you want to move a whole population of MVPs forward in a large, powerful rush. You create a splash. Here’s how to do it:

Seven Steps to Staging Successful Splashes


  1. Get your timing right. Begin contacting your partners and allies, and make sure the timing works for them. Check common calendars. You want to be the only game in town, so pick a slot that you can dominate.
  2. Build alliances. Reach out to your major partners and MVPs, and explore how they can leverage your splash so that it generates win-wins across the board. These alliances will leverage your splash, amplifying its reach.
  3. Identify and work to your target audiences. Know who you are trying to reach and the highest-leverage opportunities they present. Identify opportunities that can be clumped together in a short span of time.
  4. Prepare to execute. Do rehearsals, and bring in administrative support to test everything in advance. When it gets to the go-live experience, you want as many of the kinks worked out in advance as possible. This is because you will be pouring energy into making each event a knockout and following up with people at the conclusion of each event. So in advance, take as much activity out of the execution as you can. 
  5. Pull out all the stops on communication and marketing. Make sure that everyone knows the full schedule of events. Leave no stone unturned. Contact people one-to-one. Visit groups to tell them firsthand what is coming. Get press to release information just before the events begin to take place. Get coverage during the sessions, and make sure it is reaching people.
  6. Prepare for exponential growth in participation. Be ready for people who want to escalate their support as a result. Have staff members ready to support people. 
  7. In the midst of activity, take decisive action on multiple fronts. When your multi-event plan is in execution and people see evidence of your change program everywhere they look, engage them. Take advantage of the splash by moving aggressively and locking in a new set of commitments, moving things forward.
Creating a Splash for your Internal Change Initiative
Have a board presentation for senior staff the same week as an all-staff town hall and the dog-and-pony shows in the library. The following week, conduct a presentation at a high-profile project rollout, a sponsor’s on-site visit, three divisional strategy sessions, and an all-staff Touchstone Event.
Make sure everything about your event is friendly to your target audience’s situation: timing, focus, and message. Sweat the small stuff. The more you can do to ensure 100 percent alignment among every component of your splash, the larger the burst will be.
Seth Kahan ( is a Change Leadership specialist. He has consulted with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps, Marriott, Prudential, American Society of Association Executives, International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association, Project Management Institute, and NASA. He is the founder of Seth Kahan’s CEO Leaders Forum, a year-long learning experience for CEOs in Washington, DC. His next book, Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out, will be published in Spring 2010 by Jossey-Bass. Visit his other blogs, for more info on the upcoming book and for tips on how to succeed as a free agent.  Follow Seth on Twitter. Learn more about Seth's work at