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 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

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:,,,, 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