Monday, 9 June 2014

How to fail expensively: don’t leave the calm shores of world I

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

It should be clear by now that while world I is a conveyor of important and vital messages that play an imperative role in raising awareness, educating, establishing rules of the game and engaging minds and hearts, it is world II where the real cultural change takes place. And that cultural change can only take the shape of an infection, a behavioural infection that creates new norms (ways of doing, ways of supporting new processes, style of dealing with customers, etc.) That is why the concept of social infection is so important.

My insistence on the shortcomings of world I in creating social change do not come from a dogmatic position. On the contrary. I have seen traditional change management programmes fail and many well intentioned efforts to ‘convince’ and ‘engage’ with ‘communication tools’ fall by the wayside. I have also seen the incredible waste of energy and money involved in all this. Basically, I have seen enough to question why on earth people continue to do the same. Perhaps this also rings some bells for you.

There is also plenty of depressing data. When we put together all that we know about change management programmes (those surrounding an IT implementation, those aiming at a broader cultural change or those aiming for transformation), the track record is far from impressive. Generally speaking, about 70% of the initiatives fail to deliver on the expectations. This is a big number by any account, but management has come to think of it as something more or less inevitable. Imagine for a second that 70% of airplanes crashed, 70% of bridges fell down, 70% of buildings collapsed or, simply, that 70% of the time your corporate IT system was down. Dreadful thoughts, no doubt. Well, this is the equivalent in change management.

For more visit

No comments: