Friday, 20 June 2014

Neutral, blind, amoral

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

Behavioural change management is neutral, blind, amoral. The user of behavioural sciences, however, may be purpose-driven, have a clear vision and choose a moral path. He may also be stupid.

To reward high-risk, invisible, short-term, virtual market investments (those ‘vehicles’ brought to us by the City of London or Wall Street; vehicles which have no consistency and would belong better in Monte Carlo or Las Vegas) and to do it with massive amounts of money is simply stupid. Obviously not for the recipient of the reward, but for the community at large that suffers the consequences.

The really good thing that has happened in the last years to real behavioural sciences is their ‘discovery’
by economists. Historically, economics was based on the rationality of the individual. You know, given a choice, people will maximize its utility. This was even written on the frontispiece of economics as a discipline. Well, at least until behavioural economics came along and added the graffiti:
‘sometimes’. This ‘sometimes’ or ‘maybe’ was enough to start challenging all basic assumptions. Behavioural economics today look at things from the perspective of the behaviours of the individuals, who frequently exhibit ‘non-utilitarian’ behaviours, irrational ones that do not fit the theory. Behavioural economics do not take the simplistic carrot-and-stick approach. These people know that there is a complexity to, even competition between, carrots. They also know that sticks sometimes don’t
work.


For more visit www.viralchange.com

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Imagine this...

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

Imagine this: a revolution that needed to understand upfront the correlation between the personality of the revolutionaries and the outcome of the revolution; a revolution wanting to know the differences in adoption of the revolution depending on some cognitive and mental capacity of people. Or needing some survey on ‘change readiness’. I am not trying to trivialize the importance of ‘knowing’, but the scaling up of ‘acting’ is very much independent from it. And that’s the very significant distinction of the behavioural-pragmatic approach. Large-scale change? Bypass the individual ’understanding’, the ‘state of readiness’, the ‘intellectual awareness’, the measure of ‘emotional engagement’, the degree of ‘personal internalization’, etc. Behaviours x influence x networks will give you the scale-up statistics you need. Remember: cogito is a
bonus.

A great deal of modern management thinking has been influenced by a poor understanding, poor grasp and poor execution of behavioural sciences, which seem to stay stuck at the very superficial level of the ‘carrot and the stick’. Performance appraisal systems, sales management incentives, bonus schemes...they all look somewhat (or a lot) like carrots. A few years ago, I conducted an informal review of about a dozen sales management incentive schemes in several pharmaceutical companies. Only one made sense from a behavioural perspective. All the others were completely flawed and at least half of them had outcomes that were the opposite of what the scheme had intended to reward. All of them seemed to have been designed by a (well-paid) quantum physicist. The problem is that behavioural-sciences-carrot-and-stick models seem cheap to apply. Everybody seems to know how. But they’ll also need to bear the consequences, of course.


For more visit www.viralchange.com

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Behaviours are wonderful things!

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

Behaviours are wonderful things! They are powerful, they are explicit and they provoke many emotions. However, for many people today behaviours are still ‘secondary citizens’, only understood ‘as a result’ of other things such as values, beliefs or thinking.

These are people who, very often truly genuinely, say that changing behaviours means little unless the mindset or the attitudes have changed. They would say you can change behaviours, but it will be just superficial, not for real, just a game of pretend. Your (real) thinking will not have changed. Mindsets and attitudes... You know how I feel about those!

In many parts of the world, ‘behaviours’ still get bad press. They seem to be mentally associated with ‘forcing people’ to do something. In English, ‘to behave’ means to behave well, to conform to the norm, to stick to the rules. In psychiatry, behavioural therapy has long been labelled as a sort of superficial approach, not comparable with the more ‘serious’ and ‘deep’ therapies such as psychoanalysis or psychotherapy, which are based upon understanding and insights.

These stereotypes won’t go away soon. I don’t have much room to digress here and I know a discussion about this could go on for hours, perhaps even days or months...but I do believe we need to elaborate a bit on this before we move on. People, particularly the ones who associate behaviours with carrots and sticks, have a hard time understanding the potential value and pragmatism of focusing on behaviours.
This view of behaviours as the poor, secondary, visible representation of more noble bodies such as mind, mindset, cognition, value systems, etc. is well-maintained by many Homo Sapiens professions for very good reasons. We all tend to attribute all motivation for our actions to the essence of Sapiens. The opposite would mean accepting that we are less in control than we think we are and that our free will is less free than we think.

For more visit www.viralchange.com

Monday, 9 June 2014

How to fail expensively: don’t leave the calm shores of world I

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

It should be clear by now that while world I is a conveyor of important and vital messages that play an imperative role in raising awareness, educating, establishing rules of the game and engaging minds and hearts, it is world II where the real cultural change takes place. And that cultural change can only take the shape of an infection, a behavioural infection that creates new norms (ways of doing, ways of supporting new processes, style of dealing with customers, etc.) That is why the concept of social infection is so important.

My insistence on the shortcomings of world I in creating social change do not come from a dogmatic position. On the contrary. I have seen traditional change management programmes fail and many well intentioned efforts to ‘convince’ and ‘engage’ with ‘communication tools’ fall by the wayside. I have also seen the incredible waste of energy and money involved in all this. Basically, I have seen enough to question why on earth people continue to do the same. Perhaps this also rings some bells for you.

There is also plenty of depressing data. When we put together all that we know about change management programmes (those surrounding an IT implementation, those aiming at a broader cultural change or those aiming for transformation), the track record is far from impressive. Generally speaking, about 70% of the initiatives fail to deliver on the expectations. This is a big number by any account, but management has come to think of it as something more or less inevitable. Imagine for a second that 70% of airplanes crashed, 70% of bridges fell down, 70% of buildings collapsed or, simply, that 70% of the time your corporate IT system was down. Dreadful thoughts, no doubt. Well, this is the equivalent in change management.

For more visit www.viralchange.com

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Choosing influence that can scale up.

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

Choosing influence that can scale up.

The second discipline of Viral Change™ is influencing. However, this is not about just any kind of influence, it’s about ‘scalable’ influence. Or in other words, it’s about how to create a fast buildup of the social infection. There is a new ‘industry of influence’ that promises to teach tricks and shortcuts, sometimes with poor or no scientific basis. It tends to be thrown in the same basket as ‘motivating people’ or ‘inspiring them’. ‘How to influence people’ often appears in ‘training packages’ that promise to teach you skills in achieving goals, managing your own boss, getting a raise or simply being in control. Becoming an ‘influencer’ now seems to be part of the expected portfolio of politically accepted goals.

Very often, influencing gets trivialized and reduced to the ‘tools’ and ‘how to’. Often it’s limited to listing vague requisites which would work equally well for ‘being a good manager’ as for ‘navigating through life’. In those ‘packages’, people are asked to ‘change their minds’ or their ‘mindset’ (remember, that thing I still can’t find?). They make it sound as logical and easy as changing the oil in your car. Or they are asked to ‘request and clarify responsibilities and reward appropriately’. It’s hardly something to disagree with, but it makes you wonder why the othe\thousand things you could do to be an influencer are not listed.

In chapter 4.2, I’ll share which aspects of influence are relevant for social infections and which ones are good for nice conversations and bullet points in training programmes.


For more visit www.viralchange.com

Monday, 2 June 2014

Obsessive focus on behaviours

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

Confronted with the execution of a strategy (problem solving, culture building or any other aim), we are always offered a choice of routes: world I and/or world II. As we know, traditional management’s default position is world I. In the following chapters, I will address each of the world II components on their own. Each of them relates to disciplines in the social and/or network sciences and all of them contain a fair amount of counter-intuitive principles. Mastering the combination of these components or disciplines is the basis for Viral Change™. As the graph on the previous page summarizes, the art of social infection requires:

(1) Obsessive focus on behaviours
The first discipline is behavioural change management which is well-anchored in traditional behavioural sciences. I am still surprised to see how the management world remains filled with folk psychology and half-baked behavioural answers, eagerly embraced by people in search of quick fixes. Invalidated behavioural concepts are widespread and anybody in ‘management’ or ‘HR’ seems to be a de facto expert in the matter. I’m advocating for the application of some standards, like those needed to master accounting or running a production line.

When it comes to ‘people’, it seems anything goes. The results are things such as ludicrous incentive schemes which reward exactly the opposite of what they intend to promote or extraordinarily complex competence frameworks that seem copied word-for-word from the latest management book on the shelves. Chapter 4.1 will explore key concepts about behaviours in the context of social infection of the viral change type. As it will be impossible to summarize the whole discipline of Behavioural Change Management in one chapter, I will focus on a few key concepts that are crucial or simply not well understood.


For more visit www.viralchange.com