Friday, 21 December 2007

Happy Holidays!

I want to wish all my readers the very best for the holiday season! Have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

All the best for 2008!

Leandro

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Viral Change will come to the rescue of ‘Enterprise 2.0’ transformations

Dr Leandro Herrero will be a keynote speaker at the eyeforpharma Sales Force Effectiveness Conference in Barcelona (2 - 4 April 2008). He will be focussing on how to go beyond ‘more of the same’ and on how to engage in true business transformation.

Dr Herrero will also be leading a workshop at the event, which will focus on how Viral Change can increase the Sales Force Effectiveness.

eyeforpharma is the market leader in pharmaceutical conferences, bringing pharma strategies to the busy executive. Dr Herrero is a frequent speaker at their events and was voted ‘Best Speaker’ at last year’s Monaco event.

You can register for the event here.

Enter the discount code ‘SPK08’ and receive €550 off any standard priced conference pass! Register now because the event WILL sell out!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Leandro Herrero’s audio interview on Viral Change

Inside Scoop Live's Juanita Watson interviewed Leandro Herrero, the author of Viral Change, to gain a full understanding of the concept of Viral Change and the thinking behind the book. The result is a fascinating interview that will provide you with an in-depth view of how the author came to the Viral Change methodology and how this has translated into his book.

You can listen to that interview here.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Management of change… a short video clip

For all of you who enjoyed the series on the 15 myths of change, Leandro Herrero has also created a short video clip on the management of change.


video

He has also compiled other short video posts on the following subjects:

You can also learn more about Viral Change by visiting The Chalfont Project’s website or clicking on any of the Viral Change resources on the right.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Leading change through the business-technology interaction in the ‘Enterprise 2.0’ culture.

Dr Leandro Herrero has been invited to speak at the quarterly meeting of CIO Connect in London (29 January 2008). He will show how you can lead change the Viral Change-way in the ‘Enterprise 2.0’ culture through the business-technology interaction.

The title of his presentation is: 'Viral Change: the alternative to traditional management of change processes. Leading change through the business-technology interaction of the 'Enterprise 2.0' culture.'

CIO Connect is the London-based networking organisation to which top CIOs and their core teams below. The quarterly meeting is a top networking event open to all CIO Connect members.

For more information on CIO Connect and to contact them to become a member, please click here.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Viral Change goes global

At the Frankfurt Book Fair last October, Leandro Herrero’s books got quite some attention from various publishers and distributors across the world interested in making Dr Herrero’s books more easily available to their respective markets. All in all, a successful book fair !

Monday, 3 December 2007

meetingminds Special Holiday Offer

meetingminds has published several of Dr Herrero's books which are all available from several online retailers (incl. but not limited to Amazon worldwide, Barnes and Noble, WH Smith, Borders, etc.). These books include so far:

  • Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccesful management of change in organizations
  • The Leader with Seven Faces: finding your own ways to practice leadership in today's organization
  • New Leaders Wanted: Now Hiring! 12 kinds of people you must find, seduce, hire and create a job for
  • meetingminds is now offering a special holiday promotion on all their books for the entire month of December. Order directly through meetingminds by December 31st 2007 and you will receive a 35% discount on the retail price of all Leandro Herrero's books!

    (Order by December 10th 2007 and all your books will still be delivered on time for Christmas!)

    How to get your discount?
    Send an email to sales@meetingminds.com mentioning the title(s) of the book(s) you wish to buy and how many, including your full contact details. On receipt of your email, we will contact you to finalize the sale including your discount. It couldn't be easier!

    For large orders, additional discounts may apply. Please contact us for more info.

    meetingminds also offers substantial discounts to audiences where Dr Herrero speaks. If you would like to hire Dr Herrero for a speaking engagement, you can find more information here.

    Friday, 30 November 2007

    Business Digest to devote dossier to Viral Change

    Business Digest, a European publication on management and strategy, has been helping leaders improve their understanding of the corporate environment and its evolution since 1992. They are also a preferred partner of well-known experts such as HEC Executive Education, Key People Clubs, The European Club of Corporate Universities, WDHB Consulting Group and Crossknowledge. For December 2007, they are preparing a special issue on change.

    Business Digest plans to devote one dossier solely to Dr Herrero's book, Viral Change, and the implementation of the Viral ChangeTM methodology in actual business situations. The dossier will consist of a 3-page review of the book and one or two interviews with top executives/managers whose companies have implemented Viral ChangeTM.

    The Chalfont Project Ltd is delighted by this initiative and is working together with Business Digest to bring their readers full insight into the fresh approach of Viral ChangeTM.

    Tuesday, 27 November 2007

    The answer to myth 15: People used to not complying with norms will be even worse at accepting change

    Today we reach the final assumption in my list of 15 management myths, which I posted here.

    And this particular assumption is based on very little. In my book, Viral Change, I show how deviant people can teach us a lot. People who are traditionally bad at accepting norms from the managerial plumbing system may, however, be good adopters of infections when particular behaviours have been reinforced in the peer-to-peer internal network of Champions. My anecdotal experience is one of inverse correlation. Non-normative people often make good Champions!

    Viral Change is using completely different highways to establish ‘norms’. They come up as a consequence of behavioural routines that have been established after tipping points. So they come in with their reinforcement mechanisms attached.

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations.

    You can also read some of the resources on Viral Change posted on the left or contact us for more information.

    Thursday, 22 November 2007

    The answer to myth 14: There will always be casualties - people not accepting change - and you need to identify and deal with them

    This assumption - and its equivalent, which we’ll look into in the next post - contains quite a lot of common sense. I have warned you several times before about preconceived ideas and I suggested a ‘suspend judgement’ policy. Yes, there will always be casualties, but you don’t know which ones. This assumption cries for leaders with significant emotional and social intelligence skills (in short supply), leaders who are able to read beyond the obvious and ask the question ‘why?’ Why the casualty? Happiness and unhappiness are part of our human nature. You can’t make people happy or unhappy. People make themselves happy or unhappy. I prefer happiness to unhappiness but can’t run a client engagement assuming that everybody is going to be happy. Unhappiness sometimes comes on the back of difficulty. What people might be saying is: “This is tough.”

    Again, I would think twice before labelling the casualties. The death of many unhappy employees is sometimes grossly exaggerated. The statement also includes the words ‘accepting change’, so it contains the hidden famous assumption that people are resistant to change, which we have dealt with several times before. Viral change asks us not to make early assumptions. The power of internal networks enables them to deal with ‘receptive and non-receptive people’ far better than the managerial plumbing system. Inclusions and exclusions become very obvious after the peer-to-peer influence.

    If some people do leave, make sure you take some time to look beyond the obvious ‘exit interview’. In such an exit interview, people tend to pay excessive attention to ‘what was wrong’. Incidentally, I prefer ‘stay interviews’, i.e., asking people why they are still here. From those who finally exclude themselves, we can learn not only what was ‘wrong’, but perhaps also what is going so well, that they can’t integrate it!

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

    The answer to myth 13: Short-term wins are tactical but they do not usually represent real change

    Obviously, some people don’t like ‘short wins’. These are usually the same people who do not consider change a valid label unless a big M&Ahas taken place. There is a semantic implication of ‘not-really-serious-change’. The world is rather bipolar here: some people love these short-term wins, others hate them.

    Short-term wins are very much welcomed by Viral Change. We have said all along that small changes can lead to a big impact. So it is only natural that short-terms wins, or ‘win-wins, are part of the picture. The difference between the win-win/short-win in Viral Change and the one in conventional management of change is that in the latter, it usually means let’s fix what is small, visible and will make many people happy, a sure-sure bet, doable, sexy, it’s going to be rewarding. In Viral Change mode, small win-wins may be small, visible and will-make-many-people-happy, a sure-sure bet, doable, sexy, it’s going to be rewarding...or it may not be. This is not the judgement to make.

    In Viral Change it’s not the easiness of the task that defines the ‘small’ quality. It is perhaps an atomic behaviour that by being reinforced creates a sense of possibility and that - when many of them are visible and ‘available’ - creates a tipping point of significance. There is small and then there is small: two types of small, two types of win-win. The statement above uses the word ‘tactical’ implying that there are strategic things and tactical things. Viral Change does not host that distinction. Apparently tactical things (the wide spread of a simple behaviour) have implications well beyond day-to-day tactics.

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

    Thursday, 15 November 2007

    The answer to myth 12: After change you need a period of stability and consolidation

    Or so the troops sometimes say. After the third reorganisation and the fourth quality programme and the second change management initiative, the cry is loud: give us a break! Yes, stability would be nice. But the last time we had stability was around 1756 (give or take a 100 years). The current world is instable. The business environment is a chaotic moving target. You have to be very careful about the word ‘stability’.

    Although the linguistics are logical, we must accept that real consolidation and real stability are not going to be a sort of ‘steady-state’. Many people in managerial ranks spend their life in rehearsal mode: I’ll do this when I have more people, when my headcount is full, when I’m given a new budget, etc. But in the meantime: things happen!

    Viral Change provides a mechanism for a continuum between changes (from tipping points) and establishment of new behaviours as a routine. It also gives us the power of internal (viral) networks and their perception of ‘stability’ or ‘change’. It is legitimate to place borders and timelines on processes, but they are only useful as part of a code language. As we said in the previous assumption, it is only when ‘destination’ is absolutely fixed and unmovable that ‘the end of the change process’ makes sense. If you have reached X, well, that’s it! But if vision is more of a journey with the possibility of new discoveries, then when exactly would you be able to say that you have reached terra firma?

    Viral Change forces you to see waves of change, more than a sequential journey from A to B to C. Your concept of stability or consolidation may never be the same!

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations.

    Tuesday, 13 November 2007

    The answer to myth 11: Vision for change needs to come from the top and cascade down

    I don’t know whether ‘it needs to’ or whether it just happens to be the observable norm. It really depends on the use you make of the word ‘vision’. If your vision is something close to the ultimate managerial clairvoyance only hosted on the executive floor, then… well, it may cascade down. I think the main reason why an executive floor is at the top of the building is so the cascading down of the vision takes place with the full use of the forces of gravity! If vision is a clear point of destiny, then there is no point expecting this to come from the Post Room (and this is not a judgement about the ability of people in the post room to have a vision).

    If your view of vision is more one of directions that can be refined, can grow, can benefit from the ‘none of us is smarter than all of us’ philosophy, then Viral Change is something you’ll be very comfortable with. Viral Change creates waves of infections and emergent tipping points. Allowing for (real) distributed leadership means that there is no ‘pre-defined final outcome’ (a scary thought for those in the command and control arena), but unpredictable, non-linear and potentially incredibly better outcomes.

    In Viral Change, initial vision may come from the top leadership itself but it doesn’t follow the forces of gravity. Oh horror! How do I know that people are going in the right direction and aren’t drifting? Well, get involved! You are defining the non-negotiable behaviours and therefore you are the master of those hot topics. If they are reinforced as planned, you’ll have an incredibly hi-fi machine. At which point, ‘the top’ as a geographical signpost becomes irrelevant.

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

    Thursday, 8 November 2007

    The answer to myth 10: Sceptical people and enemies of change need to be sidelined

    We all have our share of ‘difficult people’. Conventional management of change has taught us that there is always going to be a group of ‘no-hope’ people and another group of ‘maybe-but-very-sceptical-people’. It smells like a bell curve! There is nothing wrong with the talk. We all know what we mean by it. My warning is against premature labelling and self-fulfilling prophecies.

    A converted sceptic is worth 100 disciplined followers, because (a) an imitation of his ‘conversion’ may draw a small world of its own into the change and (b) the ‘conversion’ itself is social proof and legitimization. (“If Peter is involved, maybe this is for real at last”, I heard in a client meeting). Our ‘internal segmentation’ often reads like this:

    • Good guys: going for it, get them all on board.
    • Resistant guys: they will never change, be prepared to let them go.
    • Sceptical guys: mainly a pain, either they will ‘get it’ and change, or else’.

    Viral Change has the following words of wisdom: suspend judgement, be willing to be surprised and, above all, don’t write off the assets that quickly. Mary, the one who is systematically sceptical, may well be so for a reason. And she may see vital change as a real opportunity for real change and see a role for herself in its model of distributed leadership. A sceptic may be one of your best Champions. Alice, a wonderfully loyal employee, always ready for change, may have been taken for granted. But Alice, recently promoted to section manager, may not fancy the idea of Change Champions going around apparently bypassing her hierarchy. She may become a wonderfully unhappy and unsupportive employee. Do not sideline anyone! Let’s first see who the final characters are in the tipping points plots!

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

    Wednesday, 7 November 2007

    The answer to myth 9: There is no point in creating change in one division without the rest of the company participating

    Even people in a part of the organisation that feels passionate about change and embraces the principles of Viral Change, often have this nagging feeling about what the extent of it all will be, if the rest of the divisions (or the corporation, or headquarters, or everybody else) don’t do the same. In the worst case, this thinking leads to paralysis or a delay in the ‘change process’ until – or so they hope - others have understood and bought in. Which, incidentally, may never happen!

    There is little doubt that changes in one group or division have the potential to create antibodies in the rest, or will simply be rejected or alienated. It may be tough. However, as leaders, one has to ask the question: what can I do that is within my control? Simply asking this question many times results in revelations such as: actually, a lot. Organisations have great capacity to host models in a symbiotic way. Change needs to start somewhere.

    Viral Change focuses on the spread of changes via internal viral networks. In many cases, once the tipping points have occurred, their visibility goes beyond the borders of the organisation, and other divisions or groups may copy or start thinking about copying the changes. There is so much you can do via Viral Change within the borders under your control.

    People who accept the idea of ‘try-and-see-what-happens’ have invented the word ‘pilot’. It seems as if ‘piloting’ is acceptable, but ‘here-we-go-for-real-change’ is not. Viral Change could be done through pilots, but we would be prostituting terminology. There are no ‘pilots’, only real life spread of infections. My advice is: start now!

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

    Thursday, 1 November 2007

    The answer to myth 8: People are rational and will react to logical and rational requests for change

    Yes, we want to believe that. Rational appeal (B is better than A, we should go with B) is a logical, pervasive mechanism. We use it all the time. And so we should. But in itself it doesn’t ensure change. People are able to understand the rationality of things and do appreciate that they are told things that way. But rational understanding does not guarantee (a) emotional integration or (b) behavioural change. How many times have we used the expression: ‘he or she doesn’t get it’, as if the intellectual and rational click has not been heard inside the brain?

    We spend an enormous amount of time appealing to rationality, perhaps because we have a too high regard of ourselves as rational monkeys! We also spend time and energy on emotional massage: the country-house hotel with ‘motivational speakers’ is an example of this. What happens after the initial injection of rationality and emotions? Energy levels go down and reality takes over. Unless we have a daily motivational speaker and a daily meeting to appeal for rational change, we have a weak case for ‘change will follow’.

    Viral Change tells us that what really matters is behavioural change and that this is only going to happen if particular behaviours are reinforced (reward, recognition, airtime, any good reinforcement). This reinforcement comes from (a) management and (b) peers. As you may know by now, Viral Change attempts to get management reinforcement as a given (which is sometimes a lot to ask, I admit!), but it banks quite a lot on the power of peer-to-peer reinforcement, mainly through the internal (viral) network of the Change Champions. Appeals for rationality? Great as a one-off. After that, behavioural reinforcement is the only thing that will make the change happen.

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

    Tuesday, 30 October 2007

    The answer to myth 7: New processes and systems will create the new necessary behaviours

    The traditional management of change is often based on changing the systems and processes. The establishment of new processes and systems often assumes that behaviours will follow as a consequence of those changes. It is expected and taken for granted.

    However, as we know, it is often the case that people just continue to do things like they did them before. That is why we have all those incredibly big fiasco's of new processes and systems' implementations, often lead by a new IT system, which end up with ‘poor usage and acceptance’.

    Viral Change tells us that the assumption is wrong. In many cases, we see temporary peaks of adoption, but with poor guarantees of sustainability. The role of behaviours in the process is flawed. New processes and systems do not create new behaviours. We need to have new behaviours in place first, in order to support ant new processes and systems. Remember the case of the un-collaborative sales force? (See my book, Viral Change, for this case study.) New processes and electronic systems do not create collaborating. On the contrary, you need to have collaboration in order to support these systems. Just a small change of paradigm!

    Many organisations are stuck with this flawed process and it is not until behaviours are ‘re-placed’ that we start seeing the light. As described in the book, the biggest fiasco area I know is CRM: an area where the software and IT industry has produced very sexy tools and where the implementers use that incredibly weak assumption: ‘it is so good, people will adopt it’. There is no behavioural science expertise in most of those areas, so it is not surprising that the wrong assumption prevails. Even in those cases where people are aware of the naivety of the assumption, little is done to remedy it. Blaming IT or the specification or the project teams is a useful alibi. Blaming lack of stakeholder involvement is another one, a funny one, particularly when the implementation has been done through a myriad of project teams, user teams and stakeholder Task Forces.

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

    Thursday, 25 October 2007

    The answer to myth 6: Communication and training are the vital components of change

    This myth is very much related to the previous myth. Many change management initiatives look like communication and training programmes. Even people who would agree with you that this is ‘a part’, may be leading change programmes in which communication (and training) seems to be ‘the’ key, at least in size! It is easy, or easier, to develop hundreds of PowerPoint slides explaining the ins and outs of the change, the need for change, the alternative to change and the cost of no-change, etc. But the key question is: would people do things differently, once the communication and perhaps training programme has ended? The answer to that question is: maybe they will and maybe they won’t.

    Viral Change tells us that communication and training are components of the change, but that we really need to focus on behaviours. Behaviours can’t be taught, at least not in the same way we teach people how to use a spreadsheet or how to do a business plan. You can only say you are teaching when the environmental circumstances are very concrete, rigid and ‘controlled’. For example, sales persons are ‘taught’ how to handle a conversation with a customer, how to close the sale or how to respond to expected objections. In those circumstances, people ‘learn’ how to respond, what to say, when to say it, etc. It is usually crafted in an almost algorithmic way: if A is true, follow path B, if B is true, follow path C, etc. This is very different from ‘teaching’ accountability or collaboration or competitiveness. Although you can provide theoretical frameworks for those themes, the only way to ‘teach’ them is through reinforcing specific behaviours that would be consistent with them. Behaviours and the rationale of ‘values behind them can indeed be explained, but behaviours occur through reinforcement mechanisms: by management, by peers (as in the peer-to-peer Champions interactions), etc. If you reinforce ‘understanding’ and ‘rationality’ of the message, you’ll get more understood messages, but not behavioural change.

    Viral Change tells us that only behavioural change is real change. Communication and training must be adapted so that they support behavioural change. But communication and training per se will not create change as if by magic.

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

    Tuesday, 23 October 2007

    The answer to myth 5: Everybody needs to be involved in the change

    This is an obvious desideratum. But very often it’s unrealistic. Conventional management approaches tell us that we have to communicate everything to everybody so that everybody feels involved. There are different versions of this. In some cases what it means is ‘we really need to involve everybody’. In other cases, it means we need to ‘reach everybody’ so that (a) everybody has a chance to jump in or (b) nobody can say that they haven’t been ‘involved’…

    Since traditional management and conventional management of change use ‘communication-to-all’ as a default vehicle, it is not surprising that the tsunami approach is the prevailing one. (I describe two different approaches to change management in my book, Viral Change: the tsunami approach – where big actions are taken, big communication and training programmes to all, washing over the entire company like a tsunami – and the butterfly approach – Viral Change at its best: small events/actions making big changes.) However, our understanding of networks in general and social networks in particular has changed things forever. A small percentage of the organisation is highly connected and is potentially of high influence. Communication-to-all is the most ineffective way to convey the rationale for changes and for expecting that involvement will follow.

    You are better off using networks as a vehicle. I am not suggesting that communication is not needed. It is, but we usually have ‘massive communication’ as the single mechanism of hope. Viral Change uses the power of internal networks and their small worlds to effectively reach everybody, but not in the supposedly democratic way of the Town Hall meeting roll-outs. At any point in time, there will be different levels of ‘receptiveness’ in the population and the spread will happen in an erratic way. However, when this is happening, it is not just ‘communication’ as a currency that will follow through. It is endorsement, new behaviours, reinforcements and changes, all in one. Viral Change likes to talk less and do more... with better and faster results.

    If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations.

    Monday, 22 October 2007

    Recent interviews on Viral Change TM

    In between debunking all the myths, I wanted to let you know that Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views interviewed me recently about Viral Change, the book and the concepts behind it. The interview can be found here. There is also an audio version here.

    Thursday, 18 October 2007

    Myth 4: Cultural change is a slow and painful long-term affair

    It is also a strongly held belief that cultural change is slow, painful and not something to be achieved in the short term. It is almost natural for people to think that way. Our view of the culture is one of that one macro-frame that is ‘the cause of everything’, so any attempt to change ‘that thing’ surely has to come associated with parameters such as long-term, pain, difficulty, etc. And we all know one example or two of this. People with this kind of experience have difficulty seeing things differently. And how could they?

    The trick is to change the paradigm, excuse my language. And instead of seeing culture as the cause of ‘the behaviours’, we should focus on behaviours and manage/change them to see cultural change. The introduction of my book, Viral Change, is entitled Change behaviours, get culture. Viral Change takes a pragmatic approach and sees that when a small set of non-negotiable behaviours is installed in the organisation and becomes stable and widespread, these behaviours will have the capacity to create new routines, rules and norms which will equal ‘cultural change’. These changes are possible in short time frames such as three or six months. Viral Change is very adamant that if we can’t see those 'cultural changes' happening in those timeframes, something is wrong.

    The power of the internal network to spread new behaviours is immense. Cultural change doesn’t have to be a long-term, painful affair. It is not something that is so big that we will have to postpone it until we have some serious time. That is, not this year, next year, maybe… It is something that can be done now and show you results in the next few months. You can read more on how in Viral Change or on my website.

    Monday, 15 October 2007

    The answer to myth 3: People are resistant to change

    After a little break from answering myths, today I return to the list of myths I told you about in my post on September 24th. Today, it's the turn of myth 3...

    There is nothing in our biology that makes us resistant to change! We are not resistant to change. We are change! We change from babies to children, from children to teenagers and then on to adults. We change jobs, move to a new house, get married (or divorced)… Life is change! But we can act in defiance against things that can disturb our level of control over things. And this is a very different matter.

    However, we know that resisting behaviours, which come in lots of forms and shapes, always mean something. We need to look beyond the ‘it is human nature’ parapet and see why things are happening that way. To assume there is resistance by default is not healthy… or natural.

    Viral Change proves that behaviours that could be called resistant disappear when alternative behaviours are reinforced. In Viral Change, we make extra efforts to lead that assumption out the door and to suspend judgement. When people see the endorsement of peers, some behaviours-of-change in other parts of the organisation, the incipient tipping points… many resistances will unexpectedly disappear.

    Viral Change also asks you to suspend judgement until you see how the infection spreads. Some notoriously resistant people - possibly labelled like that from the start (“Mary will never change”) - may become converted ambassadors, while some ‘safe people’ (“John and Peter are OK, they will jump in.”) might become difficult and truly ‘resistant’.

    Next time, I’ll look at why many of you think that cultural change is a slow and painful long-term affair.

    The PopTech conference 2007

    The PopTech conference on technology and society takes place every year in Camden, Maine, US around the same time. It has always been a real source of inspiration for me. This year I will not be able to attend but they are web casting the entire thing. Here are the details:


    Dear Leandro,
    I have something very cool to tell you about.
    As you may know, Pop!Tech, (http://www.poptech.org/) the annual ideas summit, is convening next week in Camden, Maine. Each year, this three-day gathering brings together extraordinary thinkers, leaders and doers to explore the deep forces shaping our collective future, the social impact of new scientific insights and emerging technologies, and the most innovative approaches humanity is taking to address national and global challenges.
    This year, with the help of Yahoo!, we will be webcasting the entire Pop!Tech 2007 conference - for free - at http://www.poptech.org/live between 9am and 6.30pm EST, October 18-20, 2007. Viewers can even submit questions to our stage live by emailing questions@poptech.org. The 2007 Pop!Tech program is online at http://www.poptech.org/schedule and speakers are at http://www.poptech.org/speakers2007/.

    Please help us spread the word!
    Please tell your friends and colleagues about the webcast, and if you have
    a blog and you felt so moved, we would really appreciate a post.

    I've attached the speaker list and schedule, and the speakers are also
    included below.
    Cheers,

    Andrew
    PS. Also check out poptech.org, where we have now posted internationalized
    editions of our Pop!Casts, freely downloadable videos of the best Pop!Tech
    presentations from conferences past. Now, a subset of these are available
    in eight languages -- Chinese, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian,
    Arabic, Farsi and Swahili!
    -----------------------------------------------
    Here are just some of the confirmed 2007 presenters:
    * Steven Pinker, the preeminent cognitive scientist and New York Times-best-selling author will speak on the nature and essence of human thought.
    * Victoria Hale, founder of the world's first non-profit drug company, will share her work on fighting malaria and other illnesses.
    * Nina Jablonski, the renowned anthropologist, will share her work studying the biology and meaning of human skin.
    * Jessica Jackley Flannery, Internet microfinance pioneer, will discuss the future of 'bottom up' solutions to poverty.
    * John Legend, the Grammy Award-winning R&B artist, will perform and share his work on global poverty alleviation.
    * Van Jones, inner-city eco-activist, will speak about his work on a new "green collar" revolution in America's inner cities.
    * Chris Jordan, the celebrated photographer, will share his breathtaking photographs which document of the human impact.
    * Sarah Joseph, the founder of Emel magazine, Britain's leading Muslim lifestyle publication, will discuss emerging dialogues within the Islamic community.
    * Paul Polak, founding father of market-based solutions to poverty and development, will speak about his efforts to built ultra-low-cost products for the bottom of the global pyramid.
    * Jay Keasling, one of the founding fathers of synthetic biology, will share his path-breaking work on new health and energy technologies.
    * Jonathan Harris, the mind-blowing interactive design star, will share his breathtaking work.
    * Ted Ames, the Macarthur-Award-Winning ecologist and Maine lobsterman, will share his work creating sustainable approaches to our management of the oceans.
    * Tom Barnett, the geopolitical and military strategist and best-selling author, who will explore America's strategic challenges in the next 25 years.
    * Sam Barondes, the renowned neuropsychiatrist who will discuss the essence of human personality - what it is, where it comes from, and how it makes us who we are.
    * Robert Boroffice, head of Nigeria's space agency, NASRDA, who will speak about how satellite technology can connect Africa.
    * Adrian Bowyer, creator of low-cost, open-source fabrication technologies will speak about how this breakthrough technology can be used to empower ordinary citizens around the world.
    * Louann Brizendine, neuropsychiatrist and expert on gender differences in the brain, will share her provocative work on how men and women truly do think differently.
    * Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia and leading Islamic thinker, will speak about global peace.
    * Caleb Chung, legendary toy designer and inventor of the Furby, will share his latest "artificially alive," animatronic creation.
    * Cary Fowler, the world's seed banker and director of the Global Seed Diversity Trust, will share his efforts to create a "global seed vault" deep in a mountain in Norway.
    * Vanessa German, the urban slam poet, will inspire us.
    * Dan Gilbert, the psychologist and best-selling author, will discuss human happiness and why we rarely hold on to it.
    * Krista Dong, MD, a front-lines AIDS worker in South Africa, will speak about an inspiring new initiative to help HIV+ people in the poorest communities.
    * Joe McCarthy, global mobility researcher, will share his insights into how mobile devices are empowering people around the world.
    * Christian Nold, a technology artist, will demonstrate his work on "emotional mapping" technologies that show how people react to places.
    * Claire Nouvian, the noted deep-sea conservationist, will share some of her breathtaking work which documents the deepest layers of the biosphere.
    * Alan Dugatkin, an expert in animal behavior will share his insights into the biological underpinnings of human goodness.
    * Nathan Eagle, the mobility expert from the MIT Media Lab, will share his research on the use of mobiles as a tool for social development.
    * John Esposito, the preeminent Islamic-studies scholar, will lead a discussion on the history and future of Islam.
    * Jeff Fisher, the healthcare psychologist, will share his work on a promising new software tool in the fight against HIV.
    * Jessica Hagy, superbly comic blogger, will share her hilarious illustrations.
    * Carl Honoré, celebrated journalist and chronicler of the Slow Food movement, will speak about the new dynamics of human culture.
    * Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, will share lessons from her efforts helping women in post-conflict regions.
    * Bill Shannon, the indescribably talented street dancer, will speak and perform.
    * John Shearer, technology entrepreneur, will share his potentially breakthrough ways of distributing electricity.
    * Paul Shuper, psychologist and HIV behavioral researcher, will share his work on a promising new software tool in the fight against HIV.
    * Elizabeth Streb, the award-winning choreographer, will share her visions.
    * Charles Swift, the Navy lawyer charged with defending terrorists at Guantanamo, will share lessons on balancing human rights with security in the post 9/11 world.
    * Zinhle Thabethe, the front-line AIDS worker from KwaZulu Natal province, South Africa, will return to Pop!Tech to announce a significant new initiative to fight the epidemic in her home country.
    * Katrin Verclas, mobile activism researcher, will share her research on the many ways mobiles are being used as a tool for social change.
    * Zoë Keating, the mesmerizing techno-cellist, will perform for us.
    * Sheila Kennedy, the architect and product designer, will relate her work on breakthrough new lighting technologies designed for the developing world.
    * Daoud Kuttab, the pioneering Palestinian journalist and new media expert, will share his thoughts on the impact of new media in the Middle East.
    * Kelly Joe Phelps, the mesmerizing blues guitarist, will perform.
    * Dan Pink, the noted journalist will share his thoughts on the rise of the creative economy.
    * Davy Rothbart, the founder of Found magazine, will share some his hilarious findings.
    * Enric Sala, the rising star of marine ecology, will share his work documenting the human impact on the oceans.

    As you can see, it's quite a lineup!

    Tuesday, 9 October 2007

    Viral is 'the new word'

    So many ‘new’ things start attaching the word Viral. I am delighted. This is one on Leadership. Michael Watkins note entry in HRB online, on Infectious Leadership brings home the idea of top leadership influence. I couldn’t help replying: “Michael’s infective leaders are music to my ears since I base my consulting practice on creating infections (‘Viral Change™) as opposed to mechano-hydraulic processes of PowerPoint-communications. Interestingly , I could not stop smiling whilst reading Michael’s entry since the prologue of my book Viral Change starts with a true story of a new CEO who made a series of relatively informal comments on the organization, generating de facto cascade changes ultimately translated into true cultural change. When I interviewed him a few months later and congratulated him for what it seemed to me a good ‘change management programme’, he replied ‘what programme?’”

    Thursday, 4 October 2007

    The answer to myth 2: Only change at the top can ensure change within the organisation

    As promised, I continue to reveal the answers to the list of myths I gave you in my post of September 24th. Today, I’ll explain why it’s not only change at the top that can ensure change within the organisation.

    Sure, you need change at the top. You wish to see that the top leadership takes things seriously and that they are on the path of change. It may be that they themselves have declared these intentions, conscious of the importance of their role modeling. If it goes that way, bingo! But sometimes it doesn’t. There is a spectrum of leadership-at-the-top behaviours. On one end: total support, clear leadership and a pristine role model with high awareness of the importance of their behaviours. At the other end of the spectrum: total blockage, lack of support and unhelpful behaviours that jeopardize change efforts made in many other parts of the organisation. Success at that end of the spectrum happens despite leadership, not because of it. And there are, of course, situations in between! Conventional wisdom says that there is a good correlation between leadership and changes, but reality tells us that it is not often the case.

    ‘Change at the top’ is obviously desirable, but Viral Change does not wait until this is happening. The power of the distributed leadership - mainly across the Champions network – often leads to advances on the ground not mirrored at the top. Of course, this may be a problem. I am used to Champions telling me about these ‘disconnects’ and their worries about taking risks with no consequent support. My general advice is usually one of ‘suspend judgement’. Unless there is notorious toxicity in the system (leadership does NOT want the changes, no matter how much of a distributed leadership is pushing for them), many so-so leadership teams - which were supposed to lead but didn’t jump on the wagon at the last meeting - will see tipping points and changes occurring when they open the windows. And then they will suddenly become fully supportive and they may, dare I say it, even try to take credit for it.

    In my next post, I’ll explore the next myth: ‘People are resistant to change’. Let me know how you feel about this myth by sending me a comment and then check my blog to see my take on it.

    Tuesday, 2 October 2007

    The answer to myth 1: Big change requires big actions

    This is the commonly held belief that is behind the majority of so-called ‘large interventions’ or comprehensive, massive, expensive change management programmes. It is logically assumed that a significant change in the organization (whether it’s change of culture, ways of doing, etc. or a completely new direction) needs proportional efforts. And proportionate here means massive.

    This model is consistent with ‘linear thinking’ or ‘linear dynamics, something very much embedded in our way of managing organisations. The reality is that we are surrounded by a non-linear world, where there is no apparent proportionality in the cause-effect as we see it. For example, in organizational terms, trust is not a terribly linear thing! Small things can generate high trust and small breaches can destroy it completely. There is no proportionality there!

    Interestingly we all have examples of day-to-day life where ‘small things’ create havoc. I often warn my clients of this ‘tyranny of small things’: some rules, some bureaucracy, a few people creating disruption. We are used to this dis-proportionality but seem to have difficulty accepting that management of change also travels on disproportioned highways.

    Viral Change knows all of the above very well and banks on the power of a small set of levers, behaviours, that can generate great change in a non-linear way. And we know that the organization highways for these behaviours contain things such as imitation, infection and tipping points. Change is most likely driven by a broad distributed leadership(Change Champions, for example).

    Monday, 24 September 2007

    The myths of change

    We all know that change is constantly happening in any organization. But still the label of ‘change management’ brings to mind visions (or more often: nightmares) of a massive formal process to get the company from A to B. These processes usually come with a lot of assumptions, some of which have become dogma. Others, however, are simply myths.

    I have looked at (and debunked!) 15 myths in my book, Viral Change, and want to share them with you here:

    1. Big change requires big actions
    2. Only change at the top can ensure change within the organisation
    3. People are resistant to change
    4. Cultural change is a slow and painful long-term affair
    5. Everybody needs to be involved in the change
    6. Communication and training are the vital components of change
    7. New processes and systems will create the new necessary behaviours
    8. People are rational and will react to logical and rational requests for change
    9. There is no point in creating change in one division without the rest of the company participating
    10. Sceptical people and enemies of change need to be sidelined
    11. Vision for change needs to come from the top and cascade down
    12. After change, you need a period of stability and consolidation
    13. Short-term wins are tactical, but they do not usually represent real change
    14. There will always be casualties – people not accepting change – and you need to identify and deal with them
    15. People used to not complying with norms will be even worse at accepting change

    In the coming weeks, I’m going to take an in-depth look at those myths here in my blog, where I will reveal the answer to one myth in each of my following posts. Watch this space…

    Monday, 17 September 2007

    Cultural Change as Behavioural Change

    I wanted to share with you a post that Dinesh Ganesarajah posted on his blog on the 4th September 2007:

    “In a previous post I discussed the need for cultural change as the necessary underpinning of any implementation of "best practise" and how I have tried thus far to overcome the resistance to change. Without some level of cultural change, the team or organisation becomes stuck in "current practise", not "best practise" and the implementation will not succeed.

    In researching this area, I've come across Dr Leandro Herrero's Chalfont Project. Dr Herrero's perspectives on the area of cultural change are a contrast to other thinking, for example challenging the view that cultural change has to be slow and painful.

    Dr Herrero's site has a video and a number of articles, but the highlights are:

    • Cultural change programmes concentrate on creating new mindsets and attitudes. A lot of time and effort is spent in rolling out new processes and tools. There is also a lot of communication and training, rationalising the logical need for change. In all this, an assumption is made that the new behaviours will follow to support these changes.
    • In reality, behavioural changes have to come before "cultural change". People need to be performing behaviours that are specifically "collaborating", for example, and this behaviour encouraged and spread. Once the behaviour becomes widespread, it can be considered that cultural change has taken place.
    • In this form of change programme, it is necessary to identify the key behaviours that will produce the required change. These behaviours must be reinforced and encouraged.
    • To make cultural change happen across an organisation, it is necessary to take advantage of the few people in the organisation who are connected to many people. These people need to be demonstrating and spreading the behavioural change. Dr Herrero compares this to the spread of an infectious disease, virally through a network.
    • The best thing that can happen in this kind of programme is dropping the terms "culture" and "change". People have preconceptions about these labels. Instead, people's natural tendencies to copy well regarded behaviours is used.

    The content of Dr Herrero's ideas, which he calls Viral Change, make more sense to me than anything else I have come across in the area of cultural change. Perhaps what is more impressive is that I have previously seen a team undergo dramatic changes in working practises and the observations from just seeing that at a distance fit quite well with Dr Herrero's thoughts.”

    Monday, 27 August 2007

    Social networks inside (and the structured/un-structured dilemma)

    I have been answering some LinkedIn questions and I thought I would post one of them. The question was about the use of internal (to the firm) Linked-In type of tools and, by default, the structure/unstructured sides of the organizations. This are my comments:

    This is at the core of my work as organizational consultant. I have developed the theme of structured/non structured collaboration –within a given organization – in my book Viral Change™ Although the book ( as my own work) is geared towards change in organizations, the basis for change lies on ‘what kind of model of organization’ one has in mind. The traditional top-down and ‘organization-chart structure’ ‘requires’ the cascade-down conventional change management programme designed by academics and sold by consultants where everything is linear and sequential. I call it ‘Tsunami approach’. The understanding of the organization as a network-base biological organism will not cope with that approach. Viral Change™ occurs when a small set of behaviours, is modelled and spread by a small number of people through their networks of influence (‘Butterfly approach’) creating tipping points where new routines become visible and established. It is infection versus cascade down ‘rational appeal to all’.

    There are some organizations that have been designed from the decentralised, network based angle and, as such, there will be examples in their own rights. The best compilation I have seen of such examples is in the book The Starfish and the spider. There is a website http://www.starfishandspider.com/. Visa is featured ( as pointed out by Andrew in your answers). BUT, the point I am making in my book (and work) is that ALL organizations have a component of network-based, un-structured communication and collaboration, largely (but not totally) invisible and traditionally ignored by management (‘if we don’t see it we can’t manage it’) There is always a tension between the structured and unstructured sides of the organization and the results of that tension dictates many aspects of their effectiveness.

    Looking at examples such as Google (which contains by the way a great percentage of ‘structured’) or Selmer’s only, may be misleading since the average corporation (my clients!) will never go that way! My work focuses on trying to make the leadership of the organization understand the hidden networks first and then embrace their invisibility. Viral Change is just one application of that change of mindset.

    Finally, the use of intra-firm social networks tools for the hidden, largely invisible side of the firm is almost unknown in large corporations. Those tools would replace a great deal of email, traffic. Extra problem is that if management hijacks them they will be effectively ‘structuring’ an un-structured collaboration, which will write its death certificate. I could go for hours here (!) but I hope my comments help

    Monday, 20 August 2007

    Networks, economics and politics

    Albert-László Barabási is a physicist whose study of networks has brought good light to the understanding of many network-phenomena. I quote his work in depth in the book Viral Change because his approach is crucial to understand how change works inside the organization. To my knowledge my book is pioneer in the application of network theory to the specifics of change management. Now Albert-László Barabási with another physicist has come to the rescue to the socio-political question of why some countries develop in different ways, from economic and political perspective. This is of course a.. er… small question.

    Two economists and two physicists get together and map the products developed by some countries and their associate complexity in development. A full article in Slate is s good summary of the authors paper in Science. Here is a quote from the article: "The physicists' map shows each economy in this network of products, by highlighting the products each country exported. Over time, economies move across the product map as their export mix changes. Rich countries have larger, more diversified economies, and so produce lots of products—especially products close to the densely connected heart of the network. East Asian economies look very different, with a big cluster around textiles and another around electronics manufacturing, and—contrary to the hype—not much activity in the products produced by rich countries. African countries tend to produce a
    few products with no great similarity to any others." Worth reading.

    Wednesday, 8 August 2007

    Cultural change? Change behaviours

    A typical case of “change culture” need arises in sales forces that have been created with strong individualistic ethos. You have hired people able to sell ice to Eskimos and for years rewarded them with big bonus for their individual sales performance.

    Now you have discovered that the Darwinian system that has worked in the past may not be suitable in a new environment where collaboration and sharing information between people is key to your strategy (for example combined sales forces with new and old territories all in one).

    In cultural terms you have a great individualistic culture and you want to change it to a great collaborative culture, and still meet the targets. Cultural discussions will take you to painful territories. You are better off “forgetting the culture” and translating the change into behavioural change.

    What is that the rep and district manager now have to do different and how are you going to reward the new behaviours?

    Since there was perhaps no habit of collaboration you may need to start with a bit of social-engineering and create initiatives that require by definition, and in their own merit, people talking to people and sharing data. These need to be rewarded. Individualistic non-sharing doesn’t get any reward anymore. These kind of process are extremely powerful.

    Despite common belief, the way people behave can be changed very quickly. It’s a psychological nonsense to believe that is not. Surprisingly, many people in business believe that it is difficult or impossible. This is in total contradiction with day life in the social and political arena where behaviours shift in hours.

    Tuesday, 7 August 2007

    People are resistant to change = fantastic alibi to justify slow, painful and unsuccessful change

    The management-of-change world is full of mythology constantly reinforced by the Big Consulting Police which understands change as something intrinsically big, painful, and...er...expensive. In my book “Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organizations” (meetingminds, 2007) I describe how I do it, and how 15 myths, one of them ‘people are resistant to change’ need to be revisited. Top down management-of-change techniques, which I call ‘tsunami approach, understand the organisation as a mechanic-hydraulic system of bits and pieces, instead of a biological organism with ‘networks inside’. There is a short audio-visual in our website.

    Let me address myth number one or, should I say, the mother of all myths: people are resistant to change. I have taken from the book these comments:

    “There is nothing in our biology that makes us resistant to change! We are not resistant to change. We are change. But we can act in defence of things that can disturb our level of control over things. And this is a very different matter. We saw in an earlier chapter of the book that this is one of the assumptions that have become part of the furniture in the change management field.

    However, we know that resisting behaviours, which come in lots of forms and shapes, always mean something. We need to look beyond the ‘it is human nature’ parapet and see why things are happening that way. To assume there is resistance by default is not healthy.

    Viral change proves that behaviours that could be called resistant disappear when alternative behaviours are reinforced. In Viral change, we make extra efforts to lead that assumption out the door and to suspend judgement. When people see the endorsement of peers, some behaviours-of-change in other parts of the organization, the incipient tipping points...many resistances will unexpectedly disappear.

    Viral change also asks you to suspend judgement until you see how the infection spreads. Some notoriously resistant people - possibly labelled like that from the start (‘Mary will never change’) - may become converted ambassadors, while some ‘safe people’ (‘John and Peter are OK, they will jump in’) might become difficult and truly ‘resistant’.