Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Nudge is given the elbow as economists move on to 'N squared' - Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance

The shortcomings of a nudge-only approach to behavioural management are highlighted more and more everyday. Nudge theory fits into the ‘triggering’ of behaviours, whilst Viral Change™ takes care of diffusion and sustainability of the behaviours. More to come in my book HOMO IMITANS available in February 2011

Nudge is given the elbow as economists move on to 'N squared' - Yahoo! UK & Ireland Finance

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Happy Christmas to all

A very Happy Christmas to all. Back in the new Year with new plans, the expansion of the Viral Change™ Global Network and the launch of my new book HOMO IMITANS in February.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Dr Herrero presents Viral Change(TM) Methodology to senior executives of leading private and public Organisations in South Africa

Dr Herrero is visiting Capetown and Johannesburg, RSA this week to present the methodology of Viral Change(TM), in collaboration with our Associate Practice, Incontext Consulting, to senior executives of the leading private and public organisations. This article in the Sunday Times (RSA) today (25.07.10) gives details - anyone interested in attending, please do make direct contact with Mari Lategan of InContext Consulting

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Apple Nation from Fast Company. Useful to all of us

A great summary on the uniqueness of Apple
Forget they are talking about technology. It's a way of life, experience, both, from a company that happens to have products

Apple Nation Fast Company

A 15 minute live video on the essence of Viral Change™

In the context of his recent visit to Denmark to talk to corporate leaders both in the private and public sector, Dr Leandro Herrero has been interviewed by Borsen, the leading Danish business newspaper and online business portal. I thought you may be interested in this 15 minute video in which Dr Herrero is interviewed by Mr Frank Dybdal Lilleøre, First Vice President of Danske Bank and Group HR of its Corporate University, in charge of Leadership Development. It is a short piece which highlights the key components of Viral Change™. I thought it may be useful for you. Watch it here in the Borsen website.

Please, feel free to pass it onto those in your organization who may benefit from the concept and applications of Viral Change™.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

A culture of safety or a culture of training in safety?

A well trained (in safety, in customer-centrism, in sales, in process improvement, in kaizen, or lean six sigma...) workforce is... a well trained workforce. A well trained workforce on X is not equal to a culture of X. In Viral Change™ book I use the model of input and output. In business management terms, if you reinforce (spend airtime, money, focus...) input (training in safety, in customer-centrism, in process improvement, in kaizen, in lean six sigma ) you do so because you expect output (safety culture, processes improved, customer satisfaction, sales etc...)

In behavioural terms, if you reinforce input you get more input. So, yes, a well trained workforce on X is a well trained workforce on X. Traditional management is very good at managing inputs – this is where most money management goes. Not that good at reinforcing outputs, the greatest of them being behaviours. If you want behaviours, reinforce behaviours, not the communication plans that explain why you needed those behaviours. Yes, you need to spend some resources (money, time, people) in delivering the message but, once this is done, if what you want is behaviours, you need to change channels! Behaviours, incidentally, spread virally and via imitation - just for the record!

The following is a little one page summary of the above with safety in mind. (Unapo0logetically, the parrot in me repeats those arguments again...)

A culture of safety or a culture of training in safety?

" Safety is at the core of many industries. Significant budgets are allocated to safety training in major corporations in the oil and gas industry, mining, transport etc. One death is too many. Accidents can be avoided. The cost of time lost due to incidents considerable.

Safety training is needed, but it does not necessarily create a culture of safety. Cultures are created by behaviours becoming the norm. A culture of safety is not one of well trained (on safety) people but one where safety behaviours are the norm. These two things are not the same"

Continue reading this one page

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Re-invent (are you really needed?)

A few years ago The President of a large American bank, well before e-banking existed said ‘Banking is needed, banks are not’. This was a precious piece of management wisdom. When applied to organisations it would be worth remembering that most of the functions inside (read big/not so big departments and their VPs/Directors/managers) are not needed at all. Their functionalities may be. Quality is needed but a Division of Quality is not. Regulatory and government affairs are needed but a Department with that name is not. The same goes for Customer Services, Product Development, Market Research and Marketing etc. Even Sales! Selling is needed, a sales department is not. If most people thought of that first thing in the morning we could create an epidemic of anti navel-glazing. I gave a presentation to a 250 people pharmaceutical industry a few days ago under the title of ‘Re-invent’ which I’d share with you here (taking away lots of copyrighted pretty pictures...) Towards the end I also point to the fact that we do not have good management toolkits anymore, having been old and taught on ‘Best practice management’ which are completely inappropriate for today’s world.
See the presentation here

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food | Video on

This inspirational talk by Jamie Oliver won the TED prize this year. Not everyone agrees with his approach, many question his motivation - Doesn't he take Sainsbury's dollar on a regular basis by appearing in the supermarket's advertisements..? - But nevertheless you have to applaud his courage and the simplicity of his message. A couple of real prerequisites for effective change in any situation.
Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food Video on

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Dr Herrero's book tops the CIPR List ...

Viral ChangeTM: The Alternative to Slow, Painful and Unsuccessful Management of Change in Organisations, second Edition heads up CIPR top books list......

Internal Communications Resources

Monday, 15 March 2010

It made me think ...

Those of us mums who have children may have enjoyed a little extra time with them on Sunday making our "Mothers Day" special. Part of our celebration and ceremony involved my children making toast for me to enjoy with a piping cup of my favourite brew - Watching the process from my comfy chair, I was amuzed to see that, as soon as the pieces of bread popped out of the toaster, my children carefully placed the two hot slices of bread into "wigwam position" on the bread board. Now some people may prefer their toast hot with butter melting but, for myself, I prefer cold butter, cool toast and have encouraged my children to see the benefit of making it this way. A simple story to illustrate how the behaviour of a person in power or of high trust can encourage and influence others to imitate their actions. It made me think about the process of Viral ChangeTM and how key individuals really can create impactful and sustainable change, relatively easily and quickly.

It is easy to see how the behaviour of us, as parents, has a direct influence on the way in which our children behave. I believe it is up to us as managers and leaders within our own companies and organisations to harness the power of key, well connected and trusted individuals to help us create the changes necessary to the success and future of our companies. You can try telling/dictating to a child what to do - will they really listen? They may perhaps do it your way for a short time but will soon revert to their original ways. But if you show them; do it that way yourself, and they understand and appreciate the benefit of doing it a different way - then surely they are more likely to change. Aren't adults children with more years under their belts ?!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

On company rituals and those 'big events' of Homo Corporate

Seth Godin, marketing guru, relentless and restless blogger and Big Brain has written this short piece about ‘not more big (corporate) events’. Here is what he says.

No more big events
Here are things that you can now avoid:
• The annual review
• The annual sales conference
• The big product launch
• The grand opening of a new branch
• Drop dead one-shot negotiation events

The reasons? Well, they don't work. They don't work because big events leave little room for iteration, for trial and error, for earning rapport. And the biggest reason: frequent cheap communication is easier than ever, and if you use it, you'll discover that the process creates far more gains than events ever can.

He is right. And he is very wrong. Believe me, this is not something I say frequently of Seth Godin whose daily blog I read religiously as a free psychotherapy for my often restless brain. Seth is so right that those ‘things’ do not work very well. Many, many, many people, including many clients, agree (sometimes in the corridor or the cafeteria) that those ‘events’ are very inefficient to say the least.

So why do intelligent, professional, usually efficient in many ways, often mindful, possible good managers or leaders, sensible enough people keep doing them!? Rationality is not going to get us anywhere here. Those inefficient and largely not very cost-effective processes or ‘events’ are alive because they are more than processes or events... They are rituals. They serve the extra-functionality of any ritual: they create a glue, a link, a sense of belonging (even if temporary), a ‘reason d’être’, a door to get through, a point in the calendar that provides osme sort of meaning, a punctuation in time, ‘something to go to’, or to’get through’.

Corporate rituals ( and I would include numerous ‘internal events’ and ‘internal processes such as the annual strategic and business plan one) stay because they are rituals, not because they are efficient or even sensible processes/events/things we do. They could be both of course. Business-effective rituals and organisationally-effective rituals, all in one? bingo! But, very often there is a disconnect between the ‘business functionality’ (poor) and the ritual and tribal functionality (very high).

Here is the trick: rituals can’t be suppressed on the grounds of the apparent, visible, prosaic, obvious, declared business objectives pretending that we can get rid of them leaving a vacuum behind. The best that could happen is to swap an ‘ineffective’ (business) ritual with an effective one. But there will always be a trade off, not suppression as Seth wants. The annual sales conference can be suppressed (vey often for cost reasons) but will probably be substituted by ‘regional’ or ‘local’ ones, or a digital one or a series of internal meetings with lots of PowerPoint, or team building, or local diners, or something. Anything else that Seth quotes serves a ritual –purpose and before deciding their death we would be better off if we understood what exactly those rituals do for people and for the organisation.

We need to be a little bit careful with the homicide. Instead of Business Process Manual, read Anthropology... as the only way to understand ‘what’s really going on’. As a friend of mine used to say about problems - that we never solve problems, we just trade them off.- we never get rid of rituals, we substitute them. And don’t panic, if there is a vacuum or a shortage, a ‘new corporate initiative’ will be launched for the corporate tribes.

PS. I am disclosing the focus of my book planned by 2050 or so entitled ‘Homo Corporate’. Not a joke (the date is) – I own the web domain already.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

It's what you say, not who you know. Or is it?

I find the musings of Seth Godin inspiring. In one of his recent blog posts, Viral growth trumps lots of faux followers (, he says that good ideas are the secret to viral growth. Imagine the power of a great idea spread by a person who is well-connected, not to faux followers but to those who believe in, care about, or admire him or her. This is the type of person that will facilitate massive behavioural tipping points required to foster change. It is therefore not only what you say, but to whom you say it.

Tokyo - City of Contrasts, and Some Thoughts around Change

I recently visited Tokyo and became an instant fan. I have gathered input about Japan for some years, and helped prepare expats for their impending move to Tokyo, but nothing prepared me for the impact of this vast megalopolis. How to put my impressions of a whirlwind visit to Tokyo and Kyoto in a few words? “Stark contrast.” From the ear-splitting cacophony in Akihabara, the electronics shopping district, to the quiet, empty downtown streets on a weekday morning. From the Imperial Palace buildings and gardens to the ultra-modern architecture of the Roppongi district. From fleeting glimpses of geishas hurrying along the streets in the old district of Kyoto to the loud pop culture of Takeshita-dori in Tokyo.
This lead me to ask many questions, yet to be answered.
Who are the key influencers in society?
Who dares to break the mould, given the apparent conformity? Examples abound in everyday life: public “humility”, politeness. Bowing, smiling, apologizing (for anything and everything). The yellow dividing line on the floor in the subway stations, separating the flow of passengers moving in opposite directions.
How come the yellow line works here? Why not anywhere else in the world?
What constitutes a revolution in Japanese society? Overstepping the yellow line?
Is it a given that the change in society will come from the younger generation?

Around the same time as my visit, I read an article in the Financial Times, written by Brent Hoberman (a London based internet entrepreneur.) He raises the valid point that those who are living the digital transformation and revolution are under 30 years of age, whilst those that run organisations, whether in politics, media, retail, are over 40, if not 50. This was not intended as a criticism in any way, but rather as a statement of fact, pointing out the differences in communication of these two generations. The language of the internet is not the native tongue of the over 30’s! We over 30’s use it, but they live it!

So, in the communication of change, how do we translate our messages into “webspeak” to make sense to our target audiences. And is this not a strong argument for getting the “right” change champions on board? This implies a mix of generations, including those who can act as bridgers, or “bilingual” translators.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Viral Change (TM) is good leadership in action

Continuing my series on Viral ChangeTM, I wanted to consider the role of leadership in the process of such a cultural change programme.

The Leadership Paradigm
Firstly we need to unpick our paradigms of leadership. When you hear the word – leadership –what immediately comes into your mind? What do you see, hear or feel? For most of us, if we are honest, we see person(s) in some position of authority who are directing, controlling and guiding the organisation. If we are Gen-Xers rather than baby-boomers (and I do recognise that I am guilty of generalising here) we perhaps see these people as ‘enablers’ too.

So what is leadership? It is a word that has become a generalisation or rather, a nominalisation. This means that what is actually a process word, which implies movement and doing, has been turned into a fixed form of a noun. This is a lazy way for our brains to give a label to what is actually a complex process. But in so doing, our language forms our reality and this means that we over simplify and miss the deeper meaning of ‘leadership’ or rather the process of leading.

Who’s the Leader?
How many of those lucky people designated as ‘leaders’ are now rallying for more example of leadership from the ranks? How many claim that ‘everyone is a leader’. Yet as Mike Cook says in his recent blog post; how many of them actually mean that they want to see more ‘do as I want you to-ship’.

Now, you already know that Viral ChangeTM is not linear, mechanistic, top down change but organic and spread through peer to peer networks. Of course, different challenges and contexts require different processes for leading but at its very heart leadership is done through example: being the change you want to see (to quote Gandhi). And, as Warren Bennis says “Letting the self emerge is the essential task of leaders”.

Do you notice two key words here:
• Being
• Letting (or allowing)

How many of us do you think truly understand, yet alone embody, the concept of leadership as ‘being’ as opposed to ‘doing’ and ‘allowing’ rather than ‘directing/controlling’?

And this is exactly why Viral ChangeTM is the process of leadership in action! And it is also why many leaders are actually VERY uncomfortable with the whole idea of Viral ChangeTM and certainly what presents itself as the main challenge for leaders undertaking a Viral ChangeTM project.

The true leaders in Viral ChangeTM are the employees ‘chosen’ to be the change catalysts. As leaders they need to be ‘allowed’ to influence change in their peer networks, to challenge the status quo and to rally action. Essentially they become the change that you want to see in your organisation.

So what do the ‘traditional’ leadership (senior management, CEO etc)have to do to ‘allow’ this to happen:

• They need to live and breathe the non-negotiable behaviours – they are examplars and it will all flounder if they don’t ‘walk the talk’
• They need to learn to feel comfortable with feeling uncomfortable
• They need to put mechanisms in place to allow the new leaders – certainly at first this means overt support mechanisms to nurture and support the change catalysts
• They need to be seen to be supporting them
• They need to proactively reap the fruits of the change that the new leaders achieve – for example have ways of solidifying and reinforcing new processes and ideas

In short, they need to let go and notice how, in such letting go, how change is allowed to happen!

Further reading

1. HBR, How Gen X Leads

Friday, 8 January 2010


Dr Herrero has been invited to attend and provide a keynote speech at Worldwork's MANAGING CHANGE ACROSS CULTURES INTERNATIONAL CONSULTANTS’ WORKSHOP at the The Moller Centre, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, Storey’s Way, Cambridge CB3 ODE Cambridge, UK, 15th-16th January 2010.

Research shows that the success rate of change initiatives, even in mono-cultural environments, is very low. Global organisations often look for support from consultants and facilitators to guide them in the even more complex task of managing change in a cross-cultural context.How can we help ensure that changes such as the global roll out of processes or the worldwide diffusion of innovation can occur with a higher degree of success?This workshop is aimed at internationally oriented consultants, trainers, MBA faculty and facilitators who want to offer effective tools and approaches for their clients in the area change management. The focus will be on managing change in a Western/Chinese context but the process is designed to build awareness and skills in managing the factors in any cross-border change process.The two-day workshop will bring together a unique blend of talents and tools for participants to explore, at first hand, cutting-edge approaches, role-plays, mini-cases and computer based simulations by the authors themselves.The workshop will include:Experiencing a full session of the LingHe computer simulation and learning how to optimise it’s use in a variety of developmental contexts connected to managing change across culturesExperimenting with role-plays designed to explore the behavioural factors necessary to build trust and influence key change agents at a local levelHow to use mini-case studies to stimulate understanding of alternative strategies in dealing with the challenges of introducing change across cultures.An overview of the Viral ChangeTM approach developed by the book’s author and change guru Leandro Herrero. Clear links will be made between Leandro’s approach and the change algorithms used in LingHe.This workshop launches the distribution of LingHe within the WorldWork network for which we have negotiated special rates for it’s use by all participants attending.David Trickey, WorldWork’s New Product Development Director is at present working on a large scale cultural change process with Leandro Herrero, and both David and Nigel have delivered workshops with Prof. Albert Angehrn for organisations such as IKEA, Fiat, IVECO and The Scottish Government.If you would like to book a place or have further information please write to