Saturday, 15 December 2012

Yes I can (profile you)


Un-managing change
10 lessons from Obamaland to the design of large scale behavioural change in organizations.  Viral Change™ in action series
 10 reflections on the conditions for large scale change  as practiced by Viral Change™
by Leandro Herrero
Yes I can ( profile you) 1 of 10   

It should be pretty obvious to all of us working in organizations  of some sort, but the social network of the organization  (the social network IS the organization) is not equalitarian. There is no democracy in the distribution of influence and connectivity between individuals. There is not even a Bell curve or normal distribution. It’s a power law. Small number of people have high levels in influence and connectivity, large numbers of people have low levels. And once you have high levels you tend to acquire more (Mathew effect, described in Viral Change™) 

The top-down communication systems in which most management practices are based upon assume equality and uniformity. Translation: everybody is equal, everybody needs to hear the (same) message, everybody needs to get the cascaded down powerpoints. This is what I describe as ‘World I’ in Homo Imitans (you can download that chapter here). ‘World I’ is an attrition model. Start aiming at all, and efficiency goes down in the information tsunami. At the end a few people pay attention, let alone do something about it. ‘World II’, which is behavioural based as opposed to information and messages, is a scale up model: some people start doing something, other copy, critical mass appears and eventually a large number  of people are doing something (new) good or bad... I have explained elsewhere how we need both to work in tandem (Viral Change™ (2006,2008); Homo Imitans (2011)

But let’s go back to the reluctance of the network to buy equality and uniformity. The HR produced Bell curve which defines an average  (of people) as  performing well, a few on one side doing very well and a very few excellent; and in the other side a mirror of doing not so  well and less underperforming, tells us noting about the ability of people to influence others, whether they have positive or negative influence, are sceptical or not, engaged or not , supporters or disenfranchised etc.  It’s sad that the climax of employee mapping often used by HR can tell us so little about the employee ‘social GPS’ position in the company. And, for the record, no, the Bell Curve people and the Power Law people do not correlate

Incidentally, this assumption of ‘equality of all employees’, certainly equal as human beings but not equal on performance – according to your own Bell curve – and not equal in influence/connectivity/engagement according to our Viral Change™ power law, is  in Organization Development and management practices a mirror of the old problem of Economics. The entire Economics is based upon the assumption of the rationality of people but there is a small problem, many of us behave pretty irrational. The entire ‘new’ Behavioural Economics discipline  was born as a result. We have a mirror problem: our HR systems assume equality of employees  (again, for good reasons of fairness, let alone Employment Law) but this assumption is useless particularly to understand change

Political campaigns  a la Obama have long understood, and recently mastered the art: profiling. It sounds a bit technical and market-research but what it means is that in this approach there is no point to treat everybody the same. A connected mum very active in school and worried about education funding or education quality gets no personal message (by the local activists)  about health care reform, youth employment , let alone the Iran threat. Profiling is hardly a new concept but the Obama movement/campaign has refined this to its best and at a micro-level not just as a macro-social phenomena. This has been possible due to the smart use of gigantic data available, sophisticated technology and an obsession with de-centralisation and grass roots (topics I will address is the rest of these series). Incidentally the Republican party had access to same data but was very bad as its use, the technology failed them and there were not near as de-centralised and localized as the Obama camp.

There is a lot to learn from us within the organization. At the very least we need to review the way we have most of our HR/OD/Management practices practically blind to ‘micro-profiling’. Everybody gets the same message, same interpretation, same PowerPoint, same stories. The old fashioned and failure prone ‘management of change models’ are  very weak at profiling because they are based upon that lack of understanding on how the social network works. These models are  very poor because whether explicit or not  understand the organization  as the one represented by the organizational chart.

In our Viral Change™ programme we take time at profiling small groups of individuals who many not be very high in the hierarchy but have a tremendous ability to pull other peoples behaviours. These (distributed) leaders are the real engine of change. Our primary engagement is with them,  not the entire organization.  Yes we can  (orchestrate large scale change) More to come


The ‘yes we can profile you’  was the heading of an article by Daniel Kreiss, at the Stanford Law Review Online, 2 February 2012

For a detailed (too detailed) and fascinating account of the progression of sophistication in targeting and profiling in US politics, read The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning
Campaigns by Sasha Issenberg ( Crown Publishing Group, 2012)

Viral Change™ is describe din two boks, Viral Change™: the alternative to slow, panful and unsuccessful management of change in organizations (2006,2008) and Homo Imitans, the art of social infection. Viral Change™ in action  (2011) by LeandroHerrero


Viral Change™ Global L.LP. PO Box 1192, HP9 IYQ, United Kingdom

Viral Change™ is a trademark
Next: 2/10  It’s tribal (people like me, one of us), reinvent the organization chart

Saturday, 25 August 2012

How social movement also fade - and a reply

Meta activism is a wonderful think-tak tracking social movements. This is a recent post on how these are fading and their interpretation.
2012 As The Morning After: Citizen Movements Lose Momentum | Meta-Activism Project
Viral Change (TM) orehestrates socila movements  and in doing so we are aware of the need to do it 'in campaign style'. This is my response to their blog post:

"The ups and downs of a social movement, both of the type you are tracking and study and the ‘internal within the organization’ that we orchestrate ( are a sign of health. Any scaled-up social movement needs to peak and come down. There is no such a thing as stable social movement. As movement it will trigger changes in the system (societal, organizational) which they themselves may spread and stabilize but the movement is the engine and an engine cannot run permanently over-heated. A good orchestration of the movement (very difficult to achieve in emergent societal) should cater for peaks and lows and adopt a campaign style where ‘pulses’ are planned in a recurrent way. This is how we do it inside large organizations. A one off, top down ‘tsunami approach’ (PUSH) as we call it will fade without the readiness of bottom-up (PULL) system. See . What we are seeing is normal but orchestrators should be aware of the need for, dare I say, managing and crafting the movement. The role of the digital world is of course a modifying important one – and you are experts in understanding this "

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A New Kind Of Social Science For The  21st century | Conversation | Edge

I believe that Nicholas Christakis is making one of the greatest contributions to the understanding of the communalities between biological infection, idea infection and behavioural infection. I have widely acknowledged his work in mine and in particularly quoted in Homo Imitans, the art of social infection: Viral Change in action. Mo vote for the Prize Nobel in Transdisciplinary Sciences (which needs to be invented). His work is fundamental to understand many principles of our Viral Change™ . Here ins an interview in Edge

A New Kind Of Social Science For The  21st century | Conversation | Edge

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Crash diets and good habits ( and the organization)

"Organizations can always benefit from better habits. Every day"

Seth's Blog: Crash diets and good habCrash diets and good habits
Crash diets don't work.

They don't work for losing weight, they don't work for making sales quota and they don't work for getting and keeping a job.

The reason they don't work has nothing to do with what's on the list of things to be done (or consumed). No, the reason they don't work is that they don't change habits, and habits are where our lives and careers and bodies are made.

If you want to get in shape, don't sign up for fancy diet this or Crossthat the other thing. No, the way to get in shape is to go to the gym every single day, change your clothes and take a shower. If you can do that every single day for a month, pretty soon you'll start doing something while you're there...

If you want to make sales quota, get in the habit of making more sales calls, learning more about your market and generally showing up. If you show up, with right intent, you'll start making sales. The secret isn't a great new pitch or a new pair of shoes. The secret is showing up.

Your audacious life goals are fabulous. We're proud of you for having them. But it's possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that's really frightening you--the shift in daily habits that would mean a re-invention of how you see yourself.

Organizations can always benefit from better habits. Every day. Do that first.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

HOMO IMITANS! -Locked-in patient walks and talks again after copying baby daughter - Telegraph

Locked-in patient walks and talks again after copying baby daughter - Telegraph

Medical staff suggested that if he attempted to copy his daughter – who had since begun babbling and making basic sounds – it may help him learn to speak again.

He soon began to make the same sounds, and later progressed to forming meaningful words. By March 2011 he was able to leave hospital using a walking frame.

Mrs Ellis said reading books with his daughter had helped her husband's speech and that playing games and using her toys had improved his co-ordination.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Age of Activism - Europeam Communication Summit, Brussels, 5-6 July 2012

Dr Leandro Herrero has been invited back by Qudriga University to be an expert speaker at their European Communication Summit in Brussels on Friday 6th July.

Speaking on the issue of The Age of Activism, Dr Herrero will provide his valuable insight regarding the saturation of messages, the increasing difficulty in distinguishing signal from noise, the commoditization of attention and the dangerous naivety of mistaking human collaboration with 'click-tivism'. How he believes that Internal communications must lead to "change-ability" or they will be left as Information Traffic Management or Top-down information conduits. Without transforming themselves into change-makers, their value will fade even more. They need to understand how social movements are created, how Viral Change" works and how 'engagement' in 2012 means doing something/changing something, and not simply being heard or participating.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Dr Herrero speaking at European Communication Summit in Brussels July 2012

Dr Herrero will be sharing his thoughts and Speaking on the subject of the Age of Activism ......

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Meet Dr Herrero at Eyeforpharma Sales & Marketing Excellence Conference in Turkey 21st February 2012

Dr Leandro Herrero has been invited to speak at EyeforPharma's Sales and Marketing Excellence Conference in Turkey on Tuesday 21st February 2012 at the Conrad Hotel in Istanbul. He is also offering a small number of select, one on one "surgery" sessions during the afternoon. If you wish to book a slot with him please contact Zeynep Bubik

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Chicago Ceasefire: a successful programme using viral change techniques

What’s it like to live in a neighborhood where practically everyone has witnessed a shooting or
lost a loved one to violence? Is there a way to stop the senseless violence that robs innocent children of their future? CeaseFire believes there is. And we’ve gotten results in some of the toughest neighborhoods. Watch “The Interrupters” on Frontline on public television on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. EST/ 8 p.m. CST:

Gary Slutkin MD
Executive Director, CeaseFire
Professor, Epidemiology and
International Health
UIC School of Public Health
312-996-5524 (o)

CeaseFire is an evidence based practice demonstrated effective by independently run and independently funded studies.
CeaseFire has been named one of the "Top 100 NGOs in the World" by the Global Journal.
(Listed number 30 in the world)

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


You can now find all five of Dr Leandro Herrero's books as ibooks on itunes

Homo Imitans: the art of social infection: Viral Change(TM) in action

Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

The Leader with Seven Faces

New Leaders wanted: Now Hiring!

Disruptive Ideas