Monday, 10 October 2011

Dr Leandro Herrero invited to provide keynote speech at Quadriga University Internal Communications Event in Berlin 13th October 2011

Dr Leandro Herrero has been invited to provide the keynote speech at The second Quadriga University Internal Communication conference, organised in cooperation with Communication Director magazine.

At the same event, Soren Jakobsen, Senior Partner of Viral Change, Denmark will be providing two interactive Workshops on Viral Change(TM) on 14th October 2011.

In the end, all communications are about change: a new contingency, a new product, a new strategy, a new communication tool, a new costumer, a new challenge, an unforeseen crisis change. Dr Herrero, CEO of The Chalfont Project, Managing Partner of Viral Change LLP, and author of 'Viral Change' and 'Homo Imitans', explains how Communication (World I) alone, is not Change and that only through changing Behaviours (World II) do we create scalable, sustainable change within Organizations. World I and World II work together to achieve this.
For further information please visit

Monday, 29 August 2011

VINTAGE FROM Seth's Blog: The warning signs of defending the status quo

Seth's Blog: The warning signs of defending the status quo

The warning signs of defending the status quo
When confronted with a new idea, do you:

•Consider the cost of switching before you consider the benefits?
•Highlight the pain to a few instead of the benefits for the many?
•Exaggerate how good things are now in order to reduce your fear of change?
•Undercut the credibility, authority or experience of people behind the change?
•Grab onto the rare thing that could go wrong instead of amplifying the likely thing that will go right?
•Focus on short-term costs instead of long-term benefits, because the short-term is more vivid for you?
•Fight to retain benefits and status earned only through tenure and longevity?
•Embrace an instinct to accept consistent ongoing costs instead of swallowing a one-time expense?
•Slow implementation and decision making down instead of speeding it up?
•Embrace sunk costs?
•Imagine that your competition is going to be as afraid of change as you are? Even the competition that hasn't entered the market yet and has nothing to lose...
•Emphasize emergency preparation and the expense of a chronic and degenerative condition?
Calling it out when you see it might give your team the strength to make a leap.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The behavioural 'why' of the London riots

The copycat factor has only been mentioned in passing. Herd behaviour/social copying is a mechanism at the core of what I describe in my book ‘Homo Imitans’. Triggering behaviours is easy, social imitation follows if the followers can see and feel how easy, advantageous, and ‘rewarding’ the act can be. For example that breaking into a shop and steeling has no immediate negative consequences. It will take just a few to do this for others to join in. The difference is between people who don’t feel this is ‘rewarding’ and the ones who do. The later ( the looters) are ‘just’ doing what they can do. In this respect the answer to the question ‘why they do it?’ is strictly speaking ‘because they can’. I myself cannot, for example, because the simple mental picture of me doing it is not only not rewarding but revolting. My education has shaped my library of consequences in a way that blocks some behaviours as producing a reward, a positive consequence.

So, give as many million explanations as you wish, you will go backwards in arguments and you’ll hit education, early years, parenting and an early-years social environment. The idea that current cuts for example have anything to do with this is an insult to the imagination and to anybody with a reasonable IQ. That this comes from some politicians is just a sign of their brain calibre. That they are given airtime, a tragedy. I am far from trying to simplify the chain of events and saying ‘it is just social copying/imitation/herd behaviour/copycat effect’. As I said before it is easy to trace back to ‘reward systems’ and hit education. But, at the same time, we need to acknowledge that once something like that has started, the scale up ( and the scale down) are incredibly easy and what it was ‘a mechanism’ turns into ‘a cause’, an automatic, self-reinforcing, repetitive easy to copy. In small scale, the mechanism follow the same principles behind suicide clusters or group hysteria. Understanding the nature of ‘homo imitans’ has practical consequences.

Social copying and imitation work equally on the positive side. See altruism behaviour x your brain feels there is a positive reward ( for your values an beliefs for example) x other people do = altruism will spread. So, back to the ‘educational library’ of good or bad, goodness and evil. The scale up mechanism is the visibility. If I see dozens of people in my neighbourhood helping old people living alone, I am in the path of imitating ( right library provided!) If I don’t see anybody, I may or may not do it myself. If I can see looters on screen or 24/7 coverage or receive tweeters saying come and copy, it’s all fun, nothing negative happens, we are hundreds, your brain will consult ‘the library’ and will say, go on, now you can. I am afraid we are incredibly unsophisticated copying machines. I am not saying for a minute ‘ and that is all that matters’ to understand but, for those in a position of political responsibility, it would be worth acknowledging this so that we can all go back to the mother of all ‘library building: education

The ‘why’ repertoire provided by the perpetrators will be as broad as artificial. Cognitive dissonance, the ability of the brain to match our actions with justifications, is a fantastic library of reasons: because there is noting to do for youth, because we are unemployed, because we don’t have respect, because we are not treated like persons, because they are not jobs, because we are angry with society, because the capitalist world, because the bankers get paid a lot, because there is social injustice... Please add your own. These are all ‘facts’ in search of a link with an action. You might as well add the Pope visit to the list. Surely, somebody, somewhere must call the emperor of the arguments as the most naked of the emperors and stop anybody on newsnight or question time or radio 4 from carrying on beyond 2 milliseconds. (Give airtime to stupid arguments and these will spread like looting behaviours in our brains)

What we have seen is critical masses of individuals given the opportunity to exercise highly rewarding behaviours (for them) usually outside their possibilities suddenly within reach, following other critical masses, reaching thresholds where ‘the acts become the norm’, scaled up by the ability of social media to provide 24/7 ‘social proof’ (it is happening, I can do it, others are doing, my vales system says this is great, I am doing it). Twitter and texting make the connectivity possible and instantaneous so the scale up is robust. No doubt about that. Modern network theory marrying behavioural and social sciences can explain the reality of the past weeks. We will have to be careful in analysing the ‘why’.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Social infection is catching on

Social infection is catching on
Latest news from Institute of Internal Communications (UK)
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 20:10

Your company needs you…or people very much like you.

Changing employee behaviour in the workplace is the holy grail for communicators and traditionally it’s been led from the top by senior managers.

But Dr Leandro Herrero says that’s the wrong way round because the main way behaviour changes is by social infection – i.e. we copy ‘people like us’.

“The idea of senior managers as role models is completely overestimated,” says Leandro. “Even the idea that these guys have more power than anybody else is overestimated

(read the article below)

Social infection is catching on

Monday, 30 May 2011


Homo Imitans has now been published. You cn get information about the book here
You can also download a sample chapter from the same website
Please pass onto anybody you think may be interested

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Homo Imitans and Viral Change (TM): Pass it on! Review of Homo Imitans by Chris Rodgers (Informal Coalition)

A brief look at Leandro Herrero’s latest thoughts on his Viral ChangeTM approach to orchestrated social change.
Early in 2008, I set out my thoughts on Leandro Herrero’s book Viral ChangeTM (here). Much (though not all) of his thesis on ‘how change happens’ resonates with my own informal coalitions view of organizational dynamics. In his latest book, imaginatively titled Homo Imitans, Herrero further emphasizes his view that social copying and social imitation (hence “Imitans”) can play a powerful role in an orchestrated approach to organizational (and wider social) change. (Read more.........)

Friday, 13 May 2011

Dr Herrero Challenges conventional thinking on traditional top down communication at IOIC Conference in Bournemouth

Dr Leandro Herrero, CEO of The Chalfont Project and Managing Partner of Viral Change, says top-down, didactic communication doesn't achieve anything.

He says if you really want to make a difference in an organisation you need peer-to-peer influence and social copying. read more here ....

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Dr Herrero's new book, Homo Imitans launched May 2011

Man’s primitive instincts – key to successful change management
Change programmes fail so often because of an over-reliance on management theory and best practice and too little attention to the fundamentals of human behaviour as revealed by anthropological studies. These are well-known but too little applied in the business environment.
This is the contention of Dr Leandro Herrero, the pioneer of the concept of Viral Change, who will speak on how to achieve sustainable behavioural change at the Institute of Internal Communication’s annual conference in Bournemouth on 13th May.

Dr Herrero focuses on the value of making use of the strong human tendency to copy others with whom they identify – a concept discussed in his new book Homo Imitans.

A powerful form of ‘social infection’ is created by identifying a small group of influential individuals within the organisation to act as advocates and activists for new behaviours – these are often not individuals who are high up within the formal organisational hierarchy.

Once they understand and believe in organisational goals and associated behaviours themselves, this type of champion should be free to engage peers as they think fit, with formal leaders taking a backstage role and providing support.

Data indicates that around 70% of change programmes fall well short of expectations in terms of successful outcomes. Reasons identified by Dr Herrero include: over-reliance on the ability of the formal management hierarchy to influence; and on the ability of systems, processes, new technology and formal communication programmes to embed lasting change across the organisation.

He also questions undue focus on understanding and changing attitudes as a foundation for change programmes, commenting: “You can’t really change a mindset, or indeed identify what it actually is. It is the behaviour you observe, and what you should be aiming to change. Trying to understand what is going on in people’s heads is nice, but not the key to success.”

Dr Herrero believes that more formal communication programmes support the process of social infection by raising awareness and understanding, and highlighting success stories for the purpose of positive reinforcement.

In his new book, Leandro contends that the failures of change management programmes, performance within organisations, and even government-orchestrated social change interventions, all have something in common.

He comments: “All these failures stem from the misunderstanding of the differences between two separate worlds, each with their own rules and their own tempo: the world of communication and the world of behaviours.”

He believes that ultimate success “depends on mastering both the understanding and respect for the differences of the two worlds and the establishing of bridges between them without getting them mixed up. Management in particular cannot tell the difference. It muddles them together as if they were one single territory.

"The consequences are a series of messy and wrong expectations either about people or management systems.”


Press enquiries to:Catherine Park, IoIC Tel: 01908 313755 / 07957 999725
Allison Spargo, The Chalfont Project Tel: 01494 730999

Friday, 4 March 2011

Dr Leandro Herrero provides keynote at 9th Annual SFE Europe Conference in Dusseldorf on 29th March 2011

Dr Leandro Herrero has once again been invited to provide a keynote speech at eyeforpharma's 9th Annual SFE Europe Conference at Hilton Dusseldorf on 29th March 2011.

Taboos, sacred cows and no-go zones: the pharma industry needs more than a miracle
Leandro Herrero
CEO The Chalfont Project; Managing Partner Viral Change L.L.P.

· Game change and small change: the industry appetite to challenge default positions
· Myths that give us comfort and comforts that preserve the myths
· Evolution, transformation, revolution? How the industry masters ‘external locus of control’
· Disruptive ideas as a way forward: an uncomfortable blueprint for change

You will also be able to enter a draw at this event to receive a free copy of his new book Homo imitans which will be available at the end of March 2011

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Meet Dr Herrero at Viral Change(TM) Seminar in Copenhagen 17th March 2011

In association with Berlingske Media, Viral Change Denmark has organised a Public Seminar in Copenhagen on Thursday 17th March 2011 for Dr Leandro Herrero to share insight on Viral Change(TM).

The seminar is relevant to business leaders and people who work in organizational development, and have learned that lasting change does not occur without new behaviors and therefore seek an alternative approach to the traditional, top down, large change programmes which do not live up to expectations.

Further information please contact Claus Maron or Allison Spargo

Monday, 7 February 2011


Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero will be published April 2011.
Browse about the book at

Friday, 4 February 2011

What Makes a Company Good to Work For? | Co.Design

Infographic of the Day: What Makes a Company Good to Work For? Co.Design
Excellent article. Ecerybody in the change business need to have clear idea of 'why' the organisation is good o bad, and for what... It sounds silly and obvious but there is little insights around there.. and lots and lots of assumptions. This is a good mdoel to folow