Wednesday, 10 December 2008

'People like me'

One of the most interesting pieces in the world of social influence mechanisms, both research and practitioners, is Edelman’s trust barometer. The figure/concept of ‘people like me’ has emerged as the most trusted source of communication and possible influence inside organisations. This has significant impact on Viral Change™ programmes and reinforces our practice of focusing on peer-to-peer influence. The whole report is worth reading. Thanks Edelman!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Sidestep formal structures for effective change (from David Tebbut's blog)

Many companies like to think they understand all about business processes and change management. They spend fortunes on consultancy, design, structures, processes, training, roll out and management, then wonder why they don't get the results they expected. So they have another go...
Well, maybe things aren't quite that bad, but I bet you can think of plenty of examples of 'change initiatives' that just don't get the buy-in of the grass-roots people who are supposed to implement them. Part of the problem is that they quite often try to appeal to reason. They use PowerPoints with lots of bullet points to try to hook the intellect and forget the emotional dimension. Maybe they think there's no room for emotion in their business.
But why do people go to work generally? Especially so-called 'white collar' workers. It's for the satisfaction of doing a job well and for recognition and this doesn't just mean in the pay packet. Not a good motivator at the best of times.
Part of the problem is that we've become accustomed to treating business as a mechanistic process. And a predictable one at that. Do this, force it through these process pipes, and consistent results will pop out the other end. In truth, many of the most important business processes are chaotic. Think of sales and marketing, for example. Untidy real life gets in the way. Reality has little to do with the org chart and formal processes and much more to do with endless workarounds and informal communications.
Yes, of course some processes or workflows do what they're supposed to. Regulations have to be followed and suchlike. But these are a bit like the unconscious processes of the human body. We can walk down the street while we pump blood, breathe and digest our food. But our attention is on the interesting conversation with the person walking with us.
So it is in business, the interesting stuff and the stuff that is likely to do the business most good in the future is probably the stuff that lies outside the fundamental formal systems of the organisation.
Leandro Herrero has written a most interesting book on how organisations can bring about change by acknowledging that all is not what it seems in the body corporate. He alights on the fact that, alongside the 'organigramme', lives a communication network in which all employees and business partners participate to a greater or lesser degree. Some people are highly connected, others only slightly. These are the strong ties and weak ties beloved of social network analysts. His book is called Viral Change.

Continue reading in David's Blog

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Change, activism, technology, REAL communication, WOW!

This is magnificient in all counts. http://www.girleffect.org. Visually, conceptually, social activism! I wish I could create something similar to project VIRAL CHANGE and keep communicating what it is and does!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Crowd surfing

This is a good book: Crowd Surfing by Martin Thomas and David Brain.

This is the Amazon’s description: The way people buy has gone through a massive revolution in recent years: thanks to blogs, review sites and chat rooms, we no longer have to rely on what a company says about its products and services we can read what our fellow consumers think about what they've bought, and make our own decisions bearing those views in minds. The result? Empowered customers who know exactly what they want and who can now explore many ways to get it. Many companies, however, just won't accept that things have changed and haven't adjusted their marketing efforts to match. In Crowd Surfing, David Brain and Martin Thomas explain what marketers, advertisers and brand specialists need to do to communicate with today's savvier consumers. They include case studies of successes and failures from the business world and beyond, and interview leaders such as Michael Dell and Sebastian Coe to help illustrate their points.

See a review of the book and an interview with David, president of of Edelman and co-author.

Edelman’s trust barometer is a good supporting tool to understand the source of trust in organisations and the significance of the peer-to-peer influence that we use in Viral Change™

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Viral (social) Change in action: The Chicago CeaseFire model



Viral (social) Change in action: The Chicago CeaseFire model
By Leandro Herrero (28.10.08)

I am just back from the annual Pop!Tech conference in Camden, ME, USA. This is my third time as a participant. This is a forum for exploring the interactions between technology and society. It is evolving towards a platform more focused on social innovation, social entrepreneurship and change. The audience, participants, speakers (mainly US people) are a mixture of people from arts, design, academia, engineering, social trends, entrepreneurship, socio-economic fields, health etc.

One of the presentations was by Dr Gary Slutkin, who is executive director of The Chicago Project for Violence Prevention. I must confess my total previous ignorance of that work. Under the logo/slogan of ‘CeaseFire’, the project engages people from communities and neighbourhoods to literally stop the circle of violence by confronting individuals of gangs and ‘stopping the shooting’ (on spot sometimes) and/or stopping the frequent retaliation. The project is extremely successful achieving reductions in shootings up to 40% in the neighbourhoods where the model is operating
What is extraordinary for me is the obvious similitude between our Viral Change™ model and CeaseFire modus operandi. CeaseFire, like us, uses the language and models of epidemiology (Gary Slutkin day job is Professor of Epidemiology!). Like Viral Change™, the real work in CeaseFire is done by a selected small group of connected individuals called ‘interrupters’ or ‘Outrech workers’. In the graphic below I have attempted to summarise this comparisons.

Viral Change™ has been designed, developed and implemented with the organization in mind. The only reason for this has been so that I could focus on the territory of my daily consulting work as organizational architect. But the Viral Change™model is a social model, not constrained to those borders. Social change (communitarian, micro-social, social innovation initiatives, public health initiatives, etc) is a perfect territory to implement Viral Change™ as the Chicago ‘CeaseFire’ project shows.

I will be working on those micro/macro social areas as well in future to at least gather examples of implementations and broaden the Viral Change™ scope. Those of us who do organizational work are bound to learn a lot from the dynamics of social change. Similarly I believe that Viral Change™ can contribute to the further refinement of social initiatives.

Not all of those social change initiatives are Viral Change™ as I have described in multiple places including the second edition of the book. Most of them still follow what we call in Viral Change™ ‘Big Splash’, that is, ‘massive ( as massive as possible) reaching out’. In many of those programmes there is an implicit assumption that behavioural change will follow the right information or communication campaign (e.g. AIDS). It is a pity that money is largely spend in the communication/big-splash side versus the formation, development and training of ‘social activists’ that influence other people and ‘train’ other activists.

This is a summary of Viral Change™ and CeaseFire. I do not pretend to have all the CeaseFire facts right. I am hoping to be able to visit Gary Slutkin in Chicago at some point, soon to learn more and close the loop and hope to be able to contribute to them as much as they are already showing me how wonderful model the one of ‘small numbers’ is….

Sunday, 12 October 2008

New independent book review - Viral Change (2nd Edition).

New independent book review - Viral Change (2nd Edition). The alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations By Leandro Herrero; Meetingminds; ISBN 9781905776054; 402 pages; ₤ 19.95


Three quarters of all change initiatives in organizations fail. Are we missing something? Leandro Herrero turns common views about change upside down. He calls his approach ‘viral change’ and combines mechanisms from the behavioural sciences with recent insights from social sciences and the network theory. New ideas, processes, behaviours and changes are more easily spread through an organization when spread like a viral infection. Viral Change deals with this ‘infectious behaviour’, which first spreads slowly until it reaches a tipping point. Then, the new behaviour quickly becomes the norm. And it only takes a few minor behavioural changes in a limited number of people in a network. Four principles form the basis for infectious change: the only real change is behavioural change; behaviour changes the culture of an organization (and not the other way around); organizational and cultural change is not a long-term issue; and it only takes a few key items to focus the energy.

In the first part of his book, Herrero shows which persistent beliefs about change management leaders and consultants cling to, why he thinks many changes fail and why Viral Change is such an attractive alternative. To date, a lot of knowledge has been gathered about organizational life. And this knowledge helps to discuss and analyze conventional and traditional perspectives on how the organization works. Next, the author brings all insights together and stresses the differences between the traditional point of view and his viral approach. In summary, the first part contains theory for the pragmatists, because, all too often, they are too eager to grab ready-made solutions off the shelf without really understanding how organizations really function. These pragmatists really need to mull over one more time all that is known about organizational life today.

Part two focuses on practice for people who like to lose themselves in concepts and theories, as they could really use some action. Here, Herrero builds his viral approach around 4 components: language, new behaviour, creating tipping points and rules and routines. While in the first half of the book the author is stimulating, ironic and provocative, here he becomes more serious. His Viral Change-approach is developed in great detail. And it quickly becomes clear that this is definitely not a new trick for one-minute-managers. Organizational structure and big top-down change initiatives (and the communication circuses that go with them) become a thing of the past if the methodology is strictly followed. New behaviour is determined and applied by one or more groups of ‘change champions’ to important bottlenecks in the social network that forms the organization. The snowball of behavioural change is rolled around and around by the organization until it gathers such momentum that a tipping point is created and the new behaviour becomes the norm unexpectedly fast. Suddenly, culture change has arrived, and within six months!

This is a gem of a book for (change)managers and one that people in communication should definitely read, as the traditional linear communication plan can be thrown out. So these communication managers need to find a new role. How? Well, you can read that for yourself.


Nico Jong
The Netherlands

Viral Change interview: Sue Tupling and Leandro Herrero on organisations and Viral Change™

Sue Tupling has interviewed me in the context of my presentation at the Charter Institute of PR, which I hope to post soon. Sue is a wonderful interviewer who made the conversation very easy. I spent seventeen minutes in conversation with here and the outcome is, thanks to her, a good overview of Viral Change. But also, we talked about models of organisations, management education, collaboration and idea generation in companies, social fashions and the beauty of Viral Change™. Not bad for the 17 minutes! Sue, a successful change and communications consultant herself writes the changeworks blog, where you can read her comments and listen to the interview.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Culture 2.0: viral, beta, collective sense making, long tail-PART 1

Part 1: Collaboration and the enterprise’s DNA: a cultural mutation, as opposed to evolution, may be what is really needed.

By Leandro Herrero

Collaboration between employees as an organisational goal is hardly a new topic. So why is that today, when ‘social observers’ say that ‘collaboration is the real hot topic’ they do so without the expected red face of ‘déjà vu’. I’d like to examine what I believe are the key parameters that are driving a new enterprise agenda where collaboration is not just at the core, but ‘the core’. Consider these two corporate weather storms

Technology gone public

Storm one is what I call ‘technology’s gone public’. In the old days, email was a sophisticated communication tool that you had in the office, whilst a fax machine was something of a luxury that only sophisticated people had at home. Today, online, real-time talking-to-anybody-anywhere is something that everybody, sophisticated or not, can do from home whilst real time social networking (tools) in the office is something that only sophisticated companies have. Web 2.0 and the likes have shifted the collaboration power from the enterprise to home, from big IT departments to a free download from your bedroom, from training manuals to plug-and-go use. The new(er) digital generation of employees are ready to embrace social networking and mass collaboration, if only they had the same tools in the office that their teenage daughters have at home. Some of these companies do have Web 2.0 tools but they are stuck on Culture 1.0.



Continue reading here

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Whipping up a storm with disruptive communications

Posted by Lee Smith, co-founder of Gatehouse and chair of CIPR Inside, in his blog Talking Internal Communications

September 17, 2008
Whipping up a storm with disruptive communications

I've been reading Leandro Herrero's latest book, Disruptive Ideas, and he's got me thinking about the potential we communicators have to transform our organisations from the inside-out.
This book, which I highly recommend, builds on the thinking and methodology outlined in Leandro's earlier work, Viral Change, which I've discussed here before. It proposes a menu of simple ideas which could, if implemented in the right organisation and the right way, fundamentally change the fabric of organisational life - by changing the behaviour of individual employees.
Like Viral Change, Disruptive Ideas is built on the premise that at the heart of every organisation is a small group of highly networked people (change agents if you like) who hold the key to spreading change virally - like an infection. He sees organisations as non-linear and argues that small interventions (disruptions) can have a massive impact. Butterflies and hurricanes. Leandro also believes that the only way to change an organisation is to focus on changing individual behaviours; there is no culture, only behaviours. It's fresh and extremely compelling stuff.
The book itself proposes 30 such small interventions - 10 relating to structures, 10 to processes and 10 to behaviours. They are all extremely powerful yet exceedingly simply ideas.
Here are a few of them that relate directly to our own area of focus (you can read more about these in the hard copy or web-based open book):
Team 365: the team that (almost) doesn't meet - create teams that are 'always on'; that get things done without waiting for the monthly team meeting; that collaborate, share and take action in real time. Use meetings instead to create social glue - to talk strategy, to talk behaviour, to celebrate success.
Face it, don't email it - encourage face-to-face interaction; reduce email clutter; use emerging channels like blogs and wikis to encourage collaboration and reduce email traffic. Stop emailing people who sit a few desks away.
Less Powerpoint, more stories - switch from presentation to conversation mode; kill the slide deck; identify, capture and share real stories about real people doing real things
Go to source (and turn the volume down) - stamp out rumours quickly and decisively by going to the source; decrease the noise coming from the negative, vocal minority; listen to the grapevine; use facts to tackle half-truths.
These four suggestions will give you a flavour of Leandro's thinking and approach, which I'm right behind.
So what else can we as communicators do to 'disrupt' our organisations? If we are the butterflies of the corporate world (excuse the metaphor), how can we start the flapping that will trigger an internal hurricane?
The four ideas above are a good start - hinting at the massive potential we have to revolutionise the workplace. And there are many more of these communication-related interventions that we can drive and influence and that could, collectively, turn our organisations upside down.
I was interviewed recently by Sean Dodson at The Guardian and we got talking about social media as a disruptive technology. I hadn't given the subject much thought at the time, but I have done since. I have no doubt that social media channels - blogs, wikis, social networking sites, etc - can be used to trigger deep and fundamental change inside organisations. They can bypass the hierarchy, boost transparency, stimulate grassroots conversations, identify issues, give the silent a voice, reduce email traffic, trigger action. What's more, if adopted and championed by those all-important change agents, these tools could help spread the virus of change at lightening speed.
Building on Leandro's point about storytelling, I would also argue that injecting more emotion into internal communications has hurricane potential. Much of what gets communicated inside organisations (at least formally) is hard, rational and emotionally hollow. But that's not what how we operate as humans. We think, feel and do - and our communications should reflect this by ensuring wherever possible that it has a rational and emotional component - and, where appropriate, prompts action and behaviour change. Hearts, heads and hands.
Likewise, visual communication is hugely powerful and under-utilised in internal comms. The use of colours, icons, photographic images, charts, visual metaphors and learning maps can get messages through quickly and clearly, cutting through the jargon, gobbledygook, clutter and spin that too often dominates communication at work. Yet all too often we fall naturally into the habit of churning out more words, more bullet points.
These are just a few top-of-head examples, but I'd love to hear your thoughts....
Lee
PS- if you'd like to hear Leandro speak, why not book a place at the CIPR conference on Monday 29 September - see my calendar for booking details.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Why you should consider infecting the employees in your organization


Why you should consider infecting the employees in your organization

Melcrum event explores the concept of viral communication in the workplace.
After much anticipation, Melcrum hosted its third members only event in London this week. Members from all over Europe joined their peers for breakfast at London's New Connaught Rooms, to network and learn more about research into peer-to-peer communication in the workplace. The audience heard case studies from the new report Viral communication in the workplace, on how organizations including easyJet, Pfizer, Sun Microsystems and Deloitte have "virally infected" employees with enthusiasm and interest in process/culture change programs and various other new initiatives.

Members heard from 3 experts in this area of research:
Kieron Shaw, internal communication specialist and former head of research at Melcrum;
Dr. Leandro Herrero, CEO of The Chalfont Project consultancy and pioneer of Viral Change™; and
Nigel Edwards, UK internal communication manager, Pfizer.

A radical change in internal communication

Having worked on Melcrum's research reports from 2000-2005, Kieron Shaw (pictured, right) felt he'd covered every aspect of internal communication had reached all his conclusions about it. Thinking that there was nothing new left to explore, he went traveling for a year, only to return to what he called "radical change".
"When I left Melcrum, they'd just launched a new report called Top 10 New Technologies for Internal Communicators, which explained in very basic terms what a blog was and what a wiki was and so on.

When I came back a year later, I saw a radical change in the way people communicated with each other, and everyone was going crazy over social media. It was an exciting time. There was democratization of communication, and no more hierarchy," said Shaw.
"I saw a radical change in the way people communicated with each other. There was democratization of communication, and no more hierarchy."

He went on to look at various case study examples of viral communication being used in organizations, including the Deloitte film festival, which saw employees making their own creative video clips about how it felt to work at Deloitte. These were distributed around the organization and published on YouTube. The clips were used as a recruitment tool, as well as to build the employer brand.

Social media is not essential to viral communication Shaw also highlighted that while viral communication has been pushed or even facilitated by social media, the two shouldn't be confused. Like Novo Nordisk has demonstrated, messages can be communicated virally without any use of technology at all. The Dutch Pharmaceutical company created three "secret societies" to build influence and engagement. The communication team deliberately kept information from the workforce, bar members of these 3 small societies, who were under strict instruction not to disclose information – even if asked by colleagues. This secrecy aroused employee curiosity and interest to a level that a standard corporate email or strategy meeting would never be able to attain.


We've always known about the employee grapevine - so what's changed? Both Shaw and Herrero agreed that employees have always been talking, and communicators have indeed long been considering how to tap into their conversations. But they said that the tools that now exist make it both easier and more urgent to understand informal employee conversations, and pick out the key influencers to help spread messages about organizational changes.

According to Shaw, the initial message still needs to come from the CEO, but it then needs to be discussed, peer-to-peer, in order for the message to stick, and be internalized by employees. This, he said, is what the viral method is all about.

Make accountability fashionable


Herrero argues that employees communicate in clusters. He likened the way they influence each other and the way messages spread, to how fashions spread – by just a small number of influential people.

In an organization, it's easier to reach more people with a small number of influentials, than thinking that everyone is the same and will process messages from the top in the same way.
"Within organizations, we need to aim to make things fashionable. We want employees to think 'hey - it's fashionable to be accountable, innovative, and work as a team!'," he said.

"Organizations need to talk less and do more. The best culture change management program is where the words 'culture', 'change', 'management' and 'program' are silent."

Talk less do more Herrero ended his presentation with a key thought: "Organizations need to talk less and do more. The best culture change management program is where the words 'culture', 'change', 'management' and 'program' are silent."


Video diaries


Finally, Nigel Edwards described how Pfizer armed selected employees with cameras to make video diaries of how they felt during a major culture change program.
Ten employees were selected with geographical spread, job roles and seniority all taken into account. They were asked to record their feelings and thoughts in a very informal, frank and simple way, over the first three months of this change being put into practice.

These diaries were published on the intranet and also put on DVDs and distributed to the entire organization, just before a conference was held to formally discuss the changes and the progress so far. The whole concept was carried out in a very non-corporate, informal manner, with very little editing and moderation done to the video.

Trust needs to be mutual "We trusted this to grow and it did. The diarists were like soap stars at the end of the 3 months. Employees felt reassured that someone like them was going through similar challenges and difficulties during the change," said Edwards.
"The fact that we were confident about making their criticisms public within the organization, and were giving them the freedom to honestly say what they felt, encouraged other employees to trust the organization, and also to talk more about their concerns. It was also an extension of an important aspect of the culture change, to be rid of hierarchy and be more transparent and flexible."

"We were giving them the freedom to honestly say what they felt, which encouraged other employees to trust the organization."

But Edwards warned that if yours is a command and control organization, then you should probably avoid a technique like this. "There has to be will and freedom to operate if this is to be successful," he said.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Going Viral

Sue Tupling (www.changeworksblog.com) has posted this. Sue is a UK based comms specialist. Sue's business, Changeworks Communications, helps organisations improve performance and make change work through transforming communication and initiating behavioural change programmes

Going Viral
2. September 2008, 19:31

Whilst managers are important in the communication of change and in modelling behavioural change, they also play a criticial role in opening up dialogue within the organisation. Managers do not always have the coaching skills to open up coaching conversations, even less so to encourage those crucial conversations (instead of shying away from them). If managers can be coached to open up such organisational conversations, dialogue, involvement and engagement will follow soon enough.

Coupled with this, viral change is an innovative and highly effective new approach to managing behavioural change in organisations. Essentially, a small set of non negotiable behaviours are defined and a process to encourage and spread these behaviours is adopted. These behaviours are imitated, endorsed by a small network of people, and this spreads new ways of doing things, quickly and effectively. Its strength lies in peer to peer networks, supported by dialogue and conversation, to create sustainable changes and spread and internal ‘infection’ of success.

The approach, masterminded by Leandro Herrero, relies on the organisation behind the org chart. 75% of work conversations occur in the social networks and collaborative space that are active behind the scenes. And relies for its ‘infection’ on the small number of people who have LOTS of connections (we all know one of those).

Coupled with use of metaphor, storytelling, logical levels of change and other tools, this is truly a powerful way of changing culture in a positive (and almost fun) way within a few months (honestly).

You can find out more at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations internal comms conference. Go to our facebook event:http://www.new.facebook.com/event.php?eid=37381415459

Monday, 4 August 2008

The creation of social tipping points: Rethinking influence (Part 5) – from the second edition of Viral Change™ (2008)

These blog entries over the next weeks are featuring some added pages to Viral Change – Second edition which will be in the market towards mid August. This is part 5 of these series



The initial Big Splash model. Recently it has become fashionable to criticise the influencing models, particular the one represented by model 1. And all because of ... Duncan Watts, who’s quoted in this book several times. He maintains that influencers are less influent that they think, because social media, social networks and any other forms of vehicle for an initial big splash (which he calls ‘big seed’) make the chain of influence work even if the conversion rate (influencer à enthused) is modest[1]. This apparent revelation made him appear in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) top 10 breakthrough ideas of 2007 (which tells us more about the HBR than anything else). My respect for Duncan Watts is not affected by the media hype created around the apparent war between him and Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and proponent of the power of many kinds of influencers. I take the airtime consumed by this in the media since the May 2007 HBR article with




a pinch of salt. The death of viral marketing and the death of the influencer - as many headlines read - have been grossly exaggerated. But I can understand the excitement: two big names, the pulpit of The New York Times and the blessing of HBR...it’s simply too much to resist. Watt’s equation could be described as:

Initial Critical Mass (Big Splash) x Smaller Critical Mass x bigger or smaller Critical Mass = Change
[1] Watts, Duncan J., Peretti, Jonah, 2007, Viral Marketing for the real world, Harvard Business Review, Boston.
Watts, Duncan J., Sheridan Dodds, Peter, 2007, Influentials, networks and public opinion formation, Journal of Consumer Research

The creation of social tipping points: Rethinking influence (Part 4) – from the second edition of Viral Change™ (2008)

-These blog entries over the next weeks are featuring some added pages to Viral Change – Second edition which will be in the market towards mid August. This is part 4 of these series


The Early Adopter model. This one sits somewhere in between the two mentioned above. The Early Adopter model is a favourite in the technology arena as a way to indicate that some people are more prone than others to initiate usage of a new technology. But it doesn’t have to be limited to technology adoption. Some of the examples in the iPod’s case above could well be categorised under early adopters. The terminology is so well-known that it is impossible to bury it in other models, but this model 3 borrows heavily from 1 and 2. The main subtle difference between the Opinion Leader and the Early Adopter is that the former is somehow more conscious and proactive, while the latter is more unconscious and reactive. The simple equation here would be:

Early Adopters x Critical Mass = Change

The creation of social tipping points: Rethinking influence (Part 3) – from the second edition of Viral Change™ (2008

The next blog entries over the next weeks feature some added pages to Viral Change – Second edition which will be in the market towards mid August. This is part 3 of these series


The Critical Mass model. It is easy to observe that many social changes, from fads to fashions to internal organisational routines (sub-cultures, ways of doing that have become ‘part of the furniture’), seem to appear without being triggered by an Opinion Leader. When critical masses start to behave in ‘phase transition mode’, like a single node as described before, and several of those critical masses collide, social change ‘suddenly appears’. Let’s take a simplistic example such as the use of the new Apple iPod. Mary bought one because she liked the feel of it and because she loved how different this thing is. Peter bought it because in his peer group at the advertising agency where he works most people have one. John is addicted to Apple any way so the iPod was a no-brainer. Pauline and Sharon are close friends and they just both did the same. Martin always buys anything new, sexy and slick - the iPod was a predictable choice. Uncle Peter bought two for his nephews after talking to a friend who did the same for his daughter’s birthday. Picture all this, multiply it by a factor of 100 or 1000 and inject another million reasons and you have a critical mass of people walking/sitting around with two white umbilical cords in their ears. There was no obvious Opinion Leader trigger; they all acted as a mini-Opinion-Leader in their own merit by imitating, social copying or conforming to the norm (either a social norm or a norm in their minds). In a simple way, the social change equation here is:

Critical Mass x Critical Mass = Change

The creation of social tipping points: Rethinking influence (Part 2) – from the second edition of Viral Change™ (2008)

The next blog entries over the next weeks will feature some added pages to Viral Change – Second edition which will be in the market towards mid August. This is part 2 of these series

In my experience, there are four main mechanisms to create social tipping points:

The Opinion Leader model. Social infection starts with a small group of people who have a high level of influence through what they say, how they say it, the rationale behind it and what they do. At macro-social level, these people can be found, for example, in scientific communities where, as I have described before, a Matthew Effect is obvious. Similar models can be found in community leadership, religion or political life. Within the organisation there are always ‘opinion leaders’, even if those opinions are exercised in the post room or the cafeteria. In some cases you can jot down the names easily; in others, ‘opinion leaders’ are more subtle and perhaps hidden. The Change Champions described in the next chapter fall under this criterium. In Viral Change™, we use this model extensively, ‘creating’ a Change Champions’ engine by finding its membership. In the Opinion Leader model, social tipping points occur when a critical mass is influenced and ‘changed’ by the Change Champions’ activity (their endorsement of the changes needed, their articulation of the facts, their activist behaviour and their viral leadership – see later in the book). In a simplistic way, the change equation here is:

Opinion Leaders X Critical Mass = Change

The creation of social tipping points: Rethinking influence (Part1) – from the second edition of Viral Change™ (2008)

The next blog entries over the next weeks will feature some added pages to Viral Change – Second edition which will be in the market towards mid August ( see major online bookstores UK/EU and USA)


There are many ways of understanding the creation of social tipping points and there are some differences between the macro- and micro-social levels. It’s a hot topic these days as each ‘interpretation’ has implications for many people involved in diverse areas such as marketing, health promotion, disease prevention, political marketing and social change of all sorts. My key point in this book and in my consulting approach to management of change in organisations is that, in the latter, the mechanisms of real change are not that different. But it is only when we start to understand the internal organisational management of change in the same way as internal infections or internal fashions that we are in a strong position to create lasting change.

Business and organisational management have incredibly thick skin, impermeable to the application of social sciences, despite the music you may hear from HR and OD departments. Inside the borders of the firm, life is usually mechanistic and predictable (top down and cascade down communication), whilst outside the borders, life is more organic, erratic and irregular. The firm usually understands its external markets and may segment customers well, but it’s usually unskilled and very sloppy in understanding its internal market. Employee segmentation is rudimentary. I call rudimentary a system that categorises people into high performers, low performers and the rest (OK, you have more than three baskets, but that still doesn’t change anything). Usually, a system like this is maintained to allocate money on an annual basis (a weak behavioural reinforcement mechanism) or to trigger command and control interventions (‘managing the poor performers’). In many cases I know, the HR department dictates that it must be a Bell curve-normal distribution and that people must fit into it. That is, a small percentage must be either high performers or poor performers. And it is extraordinarily common to even decide those numbers a priori. Managers then have to fit their departmental populations into the pre-assigned Bell curve as opposed to assessing their population first and then figuring out what kind of Bell curve – if any – they have. The metrics police rules with an iron hand. In that process, true understanding of degrees and qualities of influence amongst employees gets lost. The power law of influence and connectedness (small number with high connectedness and potential influence, big number with low levels of those) doesn’t fit into the Bell curve of the HR department.

We must bring the mathematics of networks back to the understanding of daily life in organisations. And along with the mathematics, we must bring an understanding and classification of employees in different terms, such as ability to influence, to be listened to or to model behaviours. That different segmentation is crucial to understanding how the behavioural tipping point creates internal social change (‘new culture’).

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Leandro Herrero to speak at the Imaginatik European Forum 2008; 5th - 6th November 2008; London

Imaginatik has issued the following note:

"We are very pleased to announce the dates for the first European Imaginatik Forum which will enable clients, partners and prospective clients to gain significant new insights into collaborative innovation and problem solving through case studies and leading edge thought leadership on key issues such as Open Innovation, Consumer engagement and benefits realisation.


Venue: The Imagination Gallery, London

This is a great opportunity for you to meet with other organisations that deploy Imaginatik’s solutions as well as being able to spend time with key Imaginatik staff to discuss new requirements regarding business processes and technology. Some of the clients that will be sharing their insights and experiences include:

Royal Mail, Bombardier, CSC, Pfizer and Leandro Herrero (author of Viral Change).

The venue, The Imagination Gallery has been described as one of the great spaces of contemporary architecture and is located centrally in London. With its traditional facade and ultra modern interior it provides an amazing vantage point from which to gaze over the rooftops of London and perhaps even catch some fireworks of the traditional Guy Fawkes celebrations on the 5th November. http://www.imagination.com/gallery

Based on the success of the recent Imaginatik event in Boston the event is being held over 2 days. For testimonials from our event in Boston please see http://www.youtube.com/user/imaginatikTo register your interest in what promises to be a popular and key event in the Imaginatik year, please email Sally Rice at sally_rice@imaginatik.com

Please note that registration is required to attend this event. Our US event was over subscribed so please reserve your place early"

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Disruptive Ideas - making Viral Change happen

Lee Smith at Talking Internal Communication continues his views on Leandro Herrero's work, described in two of his books: Viral Change and the follow-up Disruptive Ideas. I wanted to share his views with you here:


"I've just ordered my copy of Dr Leandro Herrero's new book, Disruptive Ideas - the follow up to his excellent work on Viral Change. While I eagerly await my Amazon delivery I've been looking at the Disruptive Ideas 'open book' - basically a blog which allows you to read and comment on much of the content. I love what social media has done for publishing and how its beginning to create a real dialogue between authors and readers. If you want a taste of Leandro's views and insights, be sure to check it out. The introduction provides an excellent overview of Viral Change thinking and its associated methodology. What's more, if you are willing to leave your thoughts and comments behind, you could help shape the second edition of what may well become a classic text on change."

Viral Change Book Review

I came across a great blog by Lee Smith (Talking Internal Communication) and he had the following to say about Dr Herrero's book Viral Change:


"I recently finished reading Leandro Herrero's superb book, Viral Change. I was planning to review it here on the blog, but I've just discovered that Kieron Shaw has beaten me to it!

The good news is that Kieron's response to the book was very similar to my own - in Kieron's words, it 'rocked his world'. I wouldn't go quite that far, but it's a seriously impressive book and a must-read for anyone in the business of change.

So, rather than reinventing the wheel, I suggest you check out his review in full on the Viral Change website. It will also be published in the next issue of Melcrum's SCM magazine, for those of you who subscribe.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. Buy it now. Read it and re-read it.

As an internal communicator you'll need to take some of his comments on the chin (Leandro doesn't have many good things to say about traditional approaches to communicating change) but at the heart of it is a sensible and workable methodology for delivering real, tangible behaviour change.

For me Viral Change is up there with John Smythe's Chief Engagement Officer as one of the most important books on employee communication, engagement and change to emerge in the last few years."


Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Viral Change revisited

Since the first edition of Viral Change, Dr Leandro Herrero and The Chalfont Project continued to expand their experience in the field of viral change management, which they pioneered. This has now resulted in a second and revised edition of Dr Herrero’s book: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations.

I wanted to share with you the prologue that Dr Herrero wrote for this second edition:

“The terms ‘viral change’ or ‘behavioural change management’ have increasingly been linked to our work as any Google search for these terms will show you. And I am delighted that there is a growing interest - from many sectors of the business and organisational life - in understanding the viral model of change management that we pioneered and its applications.

Since the first edition, we have continued building on our Viral Change experience, both in large scale interventions and in its applications in medium-sized organisations. Additional work on viral leadership has also taken place and some extra notes on this topic have been added in this second edition. Viral leadership goes beyond communication (‘viral communication’) to engage others to champion the new idea, the new process or the new behaviours. We are so used to equating change to good communication that sometimes people think these two things are not just connected, but interchangeable. However, they are not the same.

I have also added some notes on influence mechanisms. In recent months, it became fashionable to question the true role of ‘influencers’, for example, in marketing. In this second edition, I have stressed how any virally induced cultural change recognises a combination of mechanisms: influencers (‘the opinion leader model’), the first followers (‘the early adopters model’) and the fact that a critical mass of ‘new culture practitioners’ (‘the critical mass model’) is powerful enough in itself to induce another critical mass, no matter what the initial trigger was. Social copying leads the way. This is incredibly important for me as a practitioner of Viral Change™ (as opposed to a simply theoretical advocate), because I am more interested in the infection of new ideas and behaviours being spread and leading to new routines within the organisation (‘new cultures’) than in the socio-arithmetical ability to measure whether 20% of those were due to mass social imitation or direct Change Champion, peer-to-peer work. The best (cultural, organisational) Viral Changein action is the one that has used multiple mechanisms of influence.

Every day I encounter more and more people in organisational life who are tired of yet another corporate initiative with a change management angle. The mechanistic top-down model (push from the top of the organisation, get results at the bottom) is still what people think of: a burden you have to endure at some point, one way or another. This model is past its sell-by date. Making no apologies for stealing the slogan of a European mobile communications company, I’d like to proclaim that ‘the future is bright, the future is viral’. I really believe that the viral model of change is the only hope for a tired, overwhelmed, over-managed, predictable, commanded-and-controlled, straight-jacketed and initiative-inundated corporate life.

Leandro Herrero May 2008”

The second revised edition of Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations will be available from 15th July 2008. It can already be pre-ordered from Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble and meetingminds.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Disruptive Ideas more powerful to achieve bigger results

Disruptive Ideas – Leandro Herrero’s new book – shows organisations that all you need is a small set of disruptive ideas or powerful rules to create big impact.

London, UK – 15th June 2008 - In a time when organisations simultaneously run multiple corporate initiatives and large change programmes, Disruptive Ideas tells us that - contrary to the collective mindset that says that big problems need big solutions – all you need is a small set of powerful rules to create big cultural change.

In his previous book, Viral Change™, Leandro Herrero described how a small set of behaviours, spread by a small number of people could create sustainable change. In Disruptive Ideas, the follow-up book to Viral Change™, the author suggests a menu of 10 ‘structures’, 10 ‘processes’ and 10 ‘behaviours’ that have the power to transform any organisation of any size.

These 30 disruptive ideas can be implemented at any time and at almost no cost and what’s more...you don’t even need them all. But their compound effect – the 10+10+10 maths - will be more powerful than vast corporate programmes with dozens of objectives and efficiency targets.

This book will appeal to people at different levels of management or leadership, who want to reshape their culture by enhancing working practices and in general aim at greater organisational effectiveness. Its practical nature will appeal to all who want to implement key ideas – some of them contrarian or counterintuitive - that have the power to transform the organisation without having to embark upon a massive change management programme.

Disruptive Ideas supports the idea that ‘destination reached’ isn’t necessarily beneficial. The book is therefore a continuous and ongoing project and has its own disruptive site to support it. Readers can comment on or add to the book at www.disruptiveideas.org.

Leandro Herrero was a practicing psychiatrist for many years before holding senior leadership positions in top league business organisations. He is currently CEO of The Chalfont Project Ltd, an international group of organisational consultants, which he co-founded. His previous books include The Leader with Seven Faces, Viral Change and New Leaders Wanted – Now Hiring!, also published by meetingminds.

Disruptive Ideas, 10+10+10=1000: the maths of Viral Change that transform organisations
by Leandro Herrero (meetingminds, June 2008)
£18.50/US $26.00, Paperback, 336 pages - ISBN: 978-1-905776-04-7
Now available at: amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, www.waterstones.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.meetingminds.com and many other (online) bookshops and outlets.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Viral Change: a management book that rocks your world

Strategic Communication Management - the number one subscription publication for communicators published by Melcrum - asked Kieron Shaw to review Dr Herrero's book Viral Change. The review will appear in their June/July issue and I wanted to share it with you here:


Every so often a management book comes along that rocks your world, in every sense. It’s clear, lucid, free of ego and compelling – and it also radically shifts your thinking around a familiar concept, a concept you thought you had all sewn up.

Dr Leandro Herrero’s Viral Change is one such book. No cow is too sacred to be slaughtered here, and the book progressively and compellingly convinces you that many of your most dearly held beliefs about change have always been wrong. Moreover, it shows that the way companies fail at change is as a direct result of these often intuitive (and therefore understandable) but incorrect (and therefore destructive) ideas of what change needs and does: That “big change” must require “big actions”; that it needs simultaneous adoption by the whole company; that it must be driven from the top; or that it is slow and expensive to implement.

Two challenged truisms in particular struck this reviewer as stark. First, that if you put in place processes to change the culture (i.e., “a culture change program”) you can create behavior change; when, in fact, Herrero shows that it’s only effective the other way around – behavior change is the engine, not the product of culture change. Change the individual behaviors, no matter how minorly, and you’ll have your “culture change”.

Second, and perhaps most controversially, he tears apart the oft-quoted aphorism that “people are just naturally resistant to change.” In fact, he shows in compelling detail that people are welcoming of change and are, in fact, accustomed to change in every aspect of their lives. Resistance to change at work only shows that they’re nervous that the change will be bad – because it will be, or because they’ve had experiences of it being so. People don’t resist out of an inevitable “natural impulse”, but out of a simple lack of information and/or control over the situation.

So where does all this lead? Not surprisingly, to Herrero’s own take on how change should be implemented to be successful – in entirely the opposite way to the manner in which it’s usually done. Identify small behaviors that will represent the change you want. Have them championed by a small group of people in one team within the firm, looking at the operational instances when they’re not being met. Allow the natural influence of social networks to begin embedding and spreading that behavior virally. At the tipping point, it will become adopted by the whole group and you will have your culture change.

Review by Kieron Shaw
Researcher and Writer
For Strategic Communication Management
June/July 2008

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Disruptive Ideas Project

For those following this blog, this is an invitation to re-write/up-write/second-write my (just about to be published) book Disruptive Ideas: 10+10+10=1000; the maths of Viral Change that transform organisations. This is the disruptive ideas concept in a nutshell: all you need is a combination of very few of them and you are in business. in the business of change and transformation. What exactly are these disruptive (management) ideas? Go to the site! Any contributions left as comments in each lof the pages of the book will be acknowledge. Its second edition will include any suitable contribution and your name will be acknowledged!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Net-work, not more teamwork (and 3)

Following upon my previoous 2 posts in on my 'disruptive ideas' ( from the book of the same title), here is an idea summary........



  • Measure people’s net-work wealth by the number of their connections (weak or strong) with others, inside and outside the boundaries of the company

  • Measure your own net-work wealth by the number of people you could call for help in the middle of the night …

  • Make social connectivity (outside teams) a key feature of the culture.

  • Everybody should routinely cross the border of their divisions, groups or teams in pursuit of answers or to deliver input.

  • Ask the following performance management questions routinely: how many people outside this (team, division, company) have you talked to in the last month? How many pieces of input have you given to people outside your department?

Net-work, not more teamwork (2)

Following form the previous post, what can one do? For starters, don’t oppose people spending some time networking inside the firm. If you have a formal IT system for that, you are well advanced. Many organisations are just beginning to come to terms with the idea that people are connecting and will continue to connect routinely outside the boundaries of the division, team or department. But is this not something that even traditional management wanted to do?
Promote the idea that people should go ‘outside’ for questions and answers. ‘Outside’ may just mean inside the company, but in another division or affiliate. People should pick up the phone and be able to ask a colleague miles away, perhaps somebody they have never even met, how they solved problem A. Going beyond the natural boundaries should be the norm, not the exception. These are not behaviours reserved for one-off situations or annual internal company conventions, where so-called Best Practices are shared. This is not enough. We need real time sharing of those best practices or best ideas.
We simply need the ability for somebody in sales in the South of the country to be able to shout, “Houston, we have a problem” and then get help/an answer almost on the spot, because he is reaching an entire network of potential experts for solving the problem. Not just his peers, not just his immediate team, not just his boss. And frankly, if you think this can be done via email, forget it.
You need to accept that it is much messier than organisation chart management and a command-and-control style of leadership, but you can no longer afford people on the payroll who are only good at the internal dynamics of the team. Chances are you have lots of those already. You need net-working as a routine process and this is different from the standard networking: something that usually has the emphasis on the net, not the work.
Teams are predictable structures. They are very good for operational delivery, but not so good for strategy or innovation. A certain degree of ‘groupthink’ is always present. Putting the net-work before the teamwork ensures the continuous flow of new ideas. If the old saying “If you have two people who think the same, fire one of them!” were to be applied to teams, the world population of teams would shrink by 50%.

Net-work, not more teamwork (1)

This is the title of one of the chapters of my new book DISRUPTIVE IDEAS which builds upon Viral Change. Disruptive ideas will be available by the end of this month, May 2008. Organisations have become proficient in team management and teams have become the natural structure for collaboration, the default position. But in these days of inter-dependence between roles and jobs, many collaboration solutions can be found in informal networks, not in designed, cohesive teams. Let me inject another contrarian idea: you don’t need any more teams. I know, I know, teamocracies rule the waves. We all talk about teams and how to make them stronger, more effective, etc. Teams are at the centre of organisational development and somehow we have equated them to ‘collaboration’ or people working together. Teams are here to stay and I’m not going to waste any more space justifying their existence. But what we really need to do is not to refine the team machinery, but to exploit the net-work one. The organisation is composed of a number of collaborative spaces. Some of them are relatively rigid and designed - teams, task forces - while others are composed of looser connections between individuals, with different degrees and nuances of the word ‘looser’. Some communities (of practice or interest) are semi-loose, with a more or less defined membership. There are other networks of connections of a much looser nature, represented by people who sometimes know very little about each other and/or only communicate from time to time. There is a wide spectrum of connections available, but traditional management has only focused on one end; the one where structures are designed and borders given: the teams. In recent years, people of different disciplines interested in organisational life have begun to suspect that the structure of teams may not be as universally desirable as we first thought, particularly when the organisation needs to tap into intellectual capital wherever it is. We need more and more people who are able to navigate, to ride the looser informal connections where many answers to innovation lie. Teams are too predictable in their capability to answer questions such as, “is there a different way?” Even if the answer is yes, chances are ‘that way’ is to be found within the confines of the team. We need to favour looser network structures, even if we won’t have the same command and control capacity as we do with teams and taskforces. This is the price to pay. It is from those sometimes un-structured conversations that true innovation originates; it is there that many answers to questions can be found. What can you do? Next post!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Redesigning Sales Forces

Redesigning pharmaceutical sales operations is probably one of the most strategically important things on the table of senior commercial executives in an operating company today. And this redesigning doesn’t only involve the field forces, but also their connections with other HQ functions such as Marketing, Medical or Sales Force Effectiveness groups.

Leandro Herrero has published a new white paper describing the methodology his company, The Chalfont Project, has used for years in their client work. This methodology combines strategy with group decision analysis, creating a shared common understanding amongst stakeholders, a common sense of purpose and shared commitment to action. This proven method will enable companies to find their most preferred option that will work.

Although the white paper is focussed on the pharmaceutical industry, the methodology equally applies to all industries when looking to redesign their sales forces.

You can read the full white paper here.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Difference in conduit of change

That brings me to item 7 on my list: the difference between traditional change management and Viral Change concerning the conduit of change, i.e. how change flows through the organisation.

Following the conventional approach, the primary vehicle for the change is the management tree/structure represented in the organisation chart. VPs fire the shots and take care of directors so they are on board. Directors repeat this at their level, involving managers and their groups, sections or divisions. Managers take care of their own trees. Change is created by a sequential cascade down, via ‘the plumbing system’ of ‘burning platform signals’, communications and activities, training and review processes. Buy-in is assumed as part of the rational process. All people are equal under the tsunami!

However, in Viral Change, networks of people are the primary conduit. Signals (language, strategy, ‘burning platforms’ and directions of change) may have been started at the top, and indeed communicated down via hierarchical ‘pipes’, but change is created by social imitation in networks of influence and driven by few individuals who act as key nodes. They constitute either an informal, natural network, or they may be aided by a designed network of ‘change agents’ or ‘Change Champions’. Viral Change does not subscribe to an egalitarian view: there is no point in communicating to all and cascading down as the only mechanism to spreading change.

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

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Formal process of ‘the change management programme’

In this item – item 6 on my list – we take a look at how Viral Change differs in its process, its approach on the change management programme.

The conventional approach's formal process is consistent with the assumed and lived model of the organisation. It stresses sequence: create a ‘burning platform first, communicate strategy, plan, distribute tasks, train, roll-out, check. It relies on processes above behaviours.

Viral Change approaches the formal process of change with the understanding of the organisation as a living, adaptable network. It stresses multi-directional influence and creation of stable change by the combination of four elements:

(1) language
(2) behaviours and their reinforcement
(3) creation of tipping points (with emphasis on ‘social imitation’)
(4) establishment of new routines or ‘cultures (see later).

In Viral Change mode, the emphasis is on behaviours above processes.

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

Thursday, 13 March 2008

How to change a country?

For those of us passionate about change in organisations, looking at change outside the enterprise is a learning treat. Social and political change is no different from organisational change. The only differences are the context, the scope and the interdependencies between individuals/players. What they all have in common is that human beings are the protagonists of change. Though it is unusual for me to write about non-organisational change in this blog, I am making a pleasurable exception today.

Imagine a politically conservative head of state asking a Marxist philosopher to gather ‘brains’ from all over (inside and outside the country), including all views and all political, social and technical positions. And then asking them to make suggestions on how to change the nation and create growth. This is not political fiction, nor fable, social experimentation or a PhD in democracy. It is simply France in 2008.

This remarkable process took place between July 2007 and January 2008. The head of state, of course, is Sarkozy; the Marxist philosopher is Jacques Attali and the invited brains consisted of 43 people from academia, consulting, finance, enterprises (big and small), journalism, etc. The outcome is published in the book 300 décisions pour changer la France. Rapport de la Commission pour la libération de la croissance française. (XO Editions, 2008, ISBN 978-2-84-563-373-5 - see also www.liberationdelacroissance.fr

300 proposals have become de facto ‘decisions’, as the President of France indicated that he is in a hurry and that everything needs to be implemented by October 2009. The proposals are fascinating to read, whether you agree with all of them or not. Incidentally, the 43 invitees signed off on all the ‘decisions’, even if some of them may not have been their real cup of tea, all in the interest of the common goal: to get France back to full employment and growth and change for good. Several lessons can be drawn from this for us as change evangelists/addicts/infectors:

  1. Timeframe. It is possible to generate high quality change proposals in a shorter period of time. Six months for the above task is pretty good. They did not just sit around a table and chat, but they had numerous consultations with people and institutions, all documented in the fascinating final written output.
  2. The membership was heterogeneous, which avoided the development of groupthink.
  3. When the goal is worth it, challenging, exciting, etc. people roll up their sleeves and set aside tribal loyalties. And I often wonder how many ‘projects’ in our organisations have an element of excitement, discovery and ‘destiny’ (even with a small ‘d’, as I described in The Leader with Seven Faces). Many ‘activities’ are only geared towards changing the oil of the organisation instead of towards true transformation. Also, how many tribal discussions and turf wars jeopardise projects worth doing?
  4. There is public commitment. The president has set public deadlines and has put a mechanism in place to make sure that they will be met. According to the report, this is a sort of ‘Delivery Office’ copied from Tony Blair. There is no hiding from it.

I think that this process is a model for many things, for example energy behind exciting goals and leadership (Attali is a fine, well-respected mind and author. His latest book is Une brève histoire de l’avenir)

The process and the report are not change per se, just like a massive communication programme within an organisation is not change either. But this is a good, impressive start. To the French: chapeau!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Cause-effect and Interventions

In this fifth instalment, we take a look at how Viral Change differs from the traditional change management in its view on cause-effect and interventions in the organisation.

The conventional approach is linear dynamics territory: big problems require big changes and a proportionate change management programme. Change progresses in a steady, measurable way (milestones and calendars). The programme has a distinct Tsunami effect and the bigger the tsunami the better. ‘We have to catch all at the same time with the same intensity’

Viral Change, however, has a clear non-linear dynamics view: big changes may require a small set of key and meaningful actions or (new) behaviours. The programme resembles the butterfly management effect: small initial change in key areas suddenly appears widespread, possibly ‘revolutionary’ (phase transition and tipping points).

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

Friday, 7 March 2008

Leandro Herrero keynote speaker at the eyeforpharma Sales Force Effectiveness Europe conference 2008

Leandro Herrero - a leading organisational consultant and CEO of The Chalfont Project Ltd (www.thechalfontproject.com) – will be a keynote speaker at eyeforpharma’s 6th Annual Pharma Conference - Sales Force Effectiveness Europe 2008 in Barcelona.

Dr Leandro Herrero, founder and CEO of The Chalfont Project Ltd (www.thechalfontproject.com) – an international firm of organisational consultants - will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming eyeforpharma Sales Force Effectiveness Europe Conference 2008.

Dr Herrero will address conference attendees on April 2nd 2008 during his keynote speech, entitled: Pharma SFE 2.0 – How to go beyond ‘more-of-the-same’ processes, IT, and standard solutions and engage in true business transformation’.

In his speech, he will discuss the following:

  • Five key transformations still on the to-do list:how to jump from ‘me-too’ evolution to true organisational leadership
  • Overcoming the pharma change management motto: ‘Change is great, you go first’
  • ‘The emperor has no clothes’ and your CRM has no customers: is customer-centrism in pharma a myth?
  • Seven deadly fallacies in pharma SFE: how business transformation is impaired by disconnected structures, processes and behaviours

He will also touch on further transformations of Sales Force Effectiveness models, with focus on new Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 technologies that have the potential to redesign organisational cultures.

A book signing has been scheduled for Dr Leandro Herrero at lunchtime on 2nd April, immediately following his address. Attendees will have the opportunity for an informal conversation with Dr. Herrero and signed copies of all his books will be available for purchase.

Dr Leandro Herrero practised as a psychiatrist for more than fifteen years before taking up senior management positions in several leading companies, both in the UK and the US. He is founder and CEO of The Chalfont Project Ltd, an international firm of organisational consultants. Taking advantage of his behavioural sciences background, coupled with his hands-on business experience, he works with organisations of many kinds on structural and behavioural change, leadership and human collaboration. He has published several books, among which The Leader with Seven Faces, Viral Change and New Leaders Wanted (www.meetingminds.com).

The Chalfont Project Ltd (www.thechalfontproject.com) is an international consulting firm of organisation architects with a long-standing presence in the bio-pharmaceutical industry.

The eyeforpharma 6th Annual Pharma Conference - Sales Force Effectiveness Europe 2008 is an in-depth exploration of the latest strategies, tools and best practices to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales force. The eyeforpharma Sales Force Effectiveness Europe conference will take place at the CCIB, Rambla Prim 1-17, 08019 Barcelona, Spain from Wednesday 2nd April 2008 through to Friday 4th April 2008. Mention ‘SPK08’ as a discount code and receive a discount of €550.00 of the standard registration price when you register here.

Leandro Herrero to host workshop at the eyeforpharma Sales Force Effectiveness Europe conference 2008

Leandro Herrero - a leading organisational consultant and CEO of The Chalfont Project Ltd (www.thechalfontproject.com) – will be hosting a workshop at eyeforpharma’s 6th Annual Pharma Conference - Sales Force Effectiveness Europe 2008 in Barcelona.

Leandro Herrero, founder and CEO of The Chalfont Project Ltd (www.thechalfontproject.com) – an international firm of organisational consultants - will be hosting a workshop at the upcoming eyeforpharma Sales Force Effectiveness Europe Conference 2008. Dr Herrero will be addressing pharmaceutical industry experts and innovators from all over the world, focussing on how to improve Sales Force Effectiveness through Behavioural Change the Viral Change way.

Dr Herrero has personally led multiple organisational and cultural changes by applying the Viral ChangeTM-way, which is described in his book Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations (meetingminds, December 2006)

Viral Change as a form of management of change is completely different from the conventional way,” Dr Herrero says. “It represents a truly new way of producing and sustaining changes. In Viral Change mode, a small set of behaviours, spread by a small number of internal activists, propagated like an internal infection of new ideas or routines creates long-lasting, faster and sustainable real change. Viral Change is closer to the dynamics of fashions, fads and infections than to standard management practices. Through Viral Change, the leader’s goal is to create an internal epidemic of success!”

A book signing has been scheduled for Dr Leandro Herrero at lunchtime on 2nd April, immediately following his keynote address. Attendees will have the opportunity for an informal conversation with Dr. Herrero and signed copies of all his books will be available for purchase following both his keynote address and the workshop.

Dr Leandro Herrero practised as a psychiatrist for more than fifteen years before taking up senior management positions in several leading companies, both in the UK and the US. He is founder and CEO of The Chalfont Project Ltd, an international firm of organisational consultants. Taking advantage of his behavioural sciences background, coupled with his hands-on business experience, he works with organisations of many kinds on structural and behavioural change, leadership and human collaboration. He has published several books, among which The Leader with Seven Faces, Viral Change and New Leaders Wanted (www.meetingminds.com).

The Chalfont Project Ltd (www.thechalfontproject.com) is an international consulting firm of organisation architects with a long-standing presence in the bio-pharmaceutical industry.

The eyeforpharma 6th Annual Pharma Conference - Sales Force Effectiveness Europe 2008 is an in-depth exploration of the latest strategies, tools and best practices to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales force. The eyeforpharma Sales Force Effectiveness Europe conference will take place at the CCIB, Rambla Prim 1-17, 08019 Barcelona, Spain from Wednesday 2nd April 2008 through to Friday 4th April 2008. Mention ‘SPK08’ as a discount code and receive a discount of €550.00 of the standard registration price when you register here.

Disruptive Ideas achieve bigger results

Disruptive Ideas – the forthcoming new book by Leandro Herrero – shows organisations that all you need is a small set of disruptive ideas or powerful rules to create big impact.

In a time when organisations simultaneously run multiple corporate initiatives and large change programmes, Disruptive Ideas tells us that - contrary to the collective mindset that says that big problems need big solutions – all you need is a small set of powerful rules to create big cultural change.

In his previous book, Viral Change™, Leandro Herrero described how a small set of behaviours, spread by a small number of people could create sustainable change. In Disruptive Ideas, the follow-up book to Viral Change™, the author suggests a menu of 10 ‘structures’, 10 ‘processes’ and 10 ‘behaviours’ that have the power to transform any organisation of any size.

These 30 disruptive ideas can be implemented at any time and at almost no cost and what’s more...you don’t even need them all. But their compound effect – the 10+10+10 maths - will be more powerful than vast corporate programmes with dozens of objectives and efficiency targets.

This book will appeal to people at different levels of management or leadership, who want to reshape their culture by enhancing working practices and in general aim at greater organisational effectiveness. Its practical nature will appeal to all who want to implement key ideas – some of them contrarian or counterintuitive - that have the power to transform the organisation without having to embark upon a massive change management programme.

Leandro Herrero was a practicing psychiatrist for many years before holding senior leadership positions in top league business organisations. He is currently CEO of The Chalfont Project Ltd, an international group of organisational consultants, which he co-founded. His previous books include The Leader with Seven Faces, Viral Change and New Leaders Wanted – Now Hiring!, also published by meetingminds.

Disruptive Ideas, 10+10+10=1000: the maths of Viral Change that transform organisations
by Leandro Herrero
meetingminds, April 2008
£18.50/US $26.00, Paperback, 300 pages - ISBN: 978-1-905776-04-7
Available to pre-order at: www.waterstones.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.meetingminds.com and many other (online) bookshops and outlets.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Different processes and systems

In item 4 of my list, I want to talk about how both Viral Change and traditional change management view the organisational processes and systems.

In the conventional approach, processes and systems are kept inside and well-defined so that the majority in that distribution can repeat them and ensure consistency. Predictability is key.

Viral Change, on the other hand, acknowledges formal processes and systems, but management in Viral Change(TM) mode are very sensitive to the risk of those processes and systems taking over organisational life. Emphasis on behaviours is needed to support processes, versus processes creating behaviours.

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

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Viral Change distributes people differently

The third item in my list focuses on how different the distribution of people is as seen from the two angles: conventional approach and Viral Change.

In the conventional approach, everything from ‘quality of the components’ to ‘flow’ assumes a bell curve distribution. Management practices consistent with this: communication reaches (or has to reach) the majority of people; change practices need to involve the majority under-the-curve acknowledging that there will be sigma deviations at both sides, for example, casualties of people who ‘will never change’.

However, in Viral Change, the organisation is a network and follows the power laws of networks where (1) a few people have multiple connections, (2) those with greater connections and perhaps influence will continue to have more and (3) spread of information, communication, influence, new behaviours new habits, etc., happens via 'tipping points'.

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

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Different ‘structures’ in Viral Change

Instalment two in the differences between Viral Change and the conventional change management approach shows that Viral Change sees the ‘structures’ of the organisation differently.

In the conventional approach, connections are established in a tree-like way. Organisation of ‘collaborative spaces’ takes place mainly by design: teams, task forces, committees, ‘solid lines’ and ‘dotted lines’. There is acknowledgment of the existence of a looser network of connections but it’s mainly seen as noise, or an informal communication system which is impossible to tap into, quantify or manage.

Viral Change sees the organisation as a complex system of connections, with high adaptation capabilities. Some of the connections have been formalized by design, providing relatively stable platforms of collaboration (teams, etc.) This designed architecture is superimposed to a far bigger and looser, non-designed, (‘emergent’) network of connections, or structure. A healthy dynamics between the ‘designed’ and ‘emergent’ is the key for effectiveness and success.

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

Monday, 25 February 2008

Viral Change sees a different, implicit model of the organisation

In my previous post, I told you I’d be looking at the differences between Viral Change and traditional change management. Here is the first instalment: how the ‘concept of the organisation’ is different.

The conventional approach sees the organisation as machinery of bits and pieces linked by a sort of mecano-hydraulic dynamics. Information, guidelines, pressures, support or anything that flows inside, does so mainly top-down. Pushed from one side, it will have consequences on the other side. ‘Corporate goals are my objectives; my objectives are the basis for yours (direct reports)’, etc. Life percolates down the organisation chart or its ‘collaboration by design' spaces (mainly teams). The pre-determined ‘plumbing system’ described in the organisation chart is the communication highway. Influence and power are assumed to flow down the plumbing system.

Viral ChangeTM takes a different view, one where the organisation is better explained as a living organism sharing many of its characteristics. There is a formal structure of authority (represented by the organisation chart) but, beyond this, there is a multi-directional flow of influences and other dynamics. Self-adaptation and re-configuration are key to survival and grow mechanisms. Managerially, it doesn’t discard a structured system of goals, objectives, etc., but it is less concerned with absolute consistency in ‘cascades’ as long as there are a few overriding strategies and directions. An incredibly rich ‘network world’, often invisible, coexists with the plumbing system.

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

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Viral Change vs. traditional change management

People often ask me, ‘how does Viral Change differ from the traditional view on change management?’ The short answer is, of course, like night from day.

However, in order to illuminate the differences further, I’ll be dedicating my next few posts on clarifying how Viral Change differs from the traditional change management.

There’s 8 items on my list. Watch this space...

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Viral Change: a welcome challenge

Chris Rodgers - independent management consultant, business coach and author - welcomes Viral Change's challenge to the traditional view that big change requires big programmes. He posted the following on his blog, Informal Coalitions, and I wanted to share his views with you here as well:


I’ve just finished reading an excellent book on organizational change, Viral Change, written by Leandro Herrero. The cover of the book states:

"Lasting change in the modern organization has less to do with massive ‘communication to all’ programmes and more with the creation of an internal epidemic of success led by a small number of non-negotiable behaviours."

The book was easy and enjoyable to read. And it was pleasing to come across an approach to change that doesn't advocate the top-down, project-based, all-singing-all-dancing methodologies that tend to dominate current management thinking and practice.

Central to Viral Change is the proposition that it is people's everyday behaviours that determine an organization's 'culture', not the formal statements, structures and processes that usually emerge from conventional 'cultural change' programmes. Having established this as a key principle of the Viral Change approach, Herrero identifies 15 conventional assumptions about organizational change. He then sets out to debunk these in the remainder of the book, which is usefully arranged into three complementary sections:

  • In the five chapters that make up the first section, Herrero sets out his argument for the Viral Change approach. Here, he explores some of the conventional wisdom on organizational change, before putting forward his own insights into how organizations work and the implications of these for change-leadership practice.
  • Section 2, comprises seven chapters which deal with the four main components of Viral Change. These are described as language, new behaviours, tipping points, and rules and rituals (or 'culture'). The framing of the change, the identification of a small set of "non-negotiable behaviours", and the propagation of these behaviours through the organization's informal influence networks provide the main focus of this section.
  • Finally, Herrero summarises the approach that he tends to use when applying Viral Change in organizations, and ends by revisiting the 15 change management assumptions from a Viral Change perspective.
Overall, I found the book an extremely valuable resource as well as an entertaining read. Although it resonates strongly with my own perspective on the dynamics of change, it approaches the subject from a different viewpoint. This provided a healthy mixture of challenge to, and support for, my own thinking, as well as provoking further questions and insights.


Chris Rodgers is an independent management consultant, business coach and author of Informal Coalitions.

Friday, 25 January 2008

A passionate architect of Viral Change

Pierre Morgon, Director of Primary Care at Schering-Plough, knows how to manage delicate changes. And he readily embraces the resulting human challenges. Several times he has gone through the difficult exercise of making teams do things differently at the same time as creating the right environment for them to do it in.

As Pierre Morgon worked with Leandro Herrero on several occasions, Business Digest felt he was ideally placed to provide an insider’s view on how Viral Change really works.

Read the whole interview here >>

Business Digest is a European publisher on business issues. Please visit their website to find more information on Business Digest articles and to subscribe to their monthly magazine on management and strategy.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The “behaviour champions” at Pfizer Ltd

When Business Digest decided to devote a full dossier in their December ’07 issue to Viral Change, they also wanted to show that Viral Change is more than just a concept. So, they interviewed two industry leaders about their experience with Viral Change in their organisations.

When Philip Watts was Director of the sales department within Pfizer Ltd, he knew something had to change. Reps understood the company’s goal and mission, but didn’t really know how to behave towards their colleagues or their customers. That’s when Philip Watts met Leandro and learnt about Viral Change...

Business Digest met up with him and found out all about his experience with with Viral Change within Pfizer.

Read the whole interview here >>

Business Digest is a European publisher on business issues. Please visit their website to find more information on Business Digest articles and to subscribe to their monthly magazine on management and strategy.