This is a fantastic, easy-to-read paperback (written by a psychiatrist turned organisational consultant) for anyone interested in organisational change. It's almost in the "I couldn't put it down" category.
Like many HR practitioners, for decades I've wondered about how best to manage organisational change. None of the traditional processes work well.
I had been impressed by Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point - how little things can make a big difference" (Abacus, 2000) about social change and how changed behaviour can suddenly become the norm.
Viral Change marries Gladwell's tipping point concepts (especially "The Law of the Few") to viral communication (as espoused by Dr TJ Larkin - see Communicating Big Change Using Small Communication at [...]).
Viral Change is also reminiscent of "Roses and Rust: redefining the essence of leadership in a new age" by Australians David Clancy and Robert Webber (Business & Professional Publishing, 1995). They argued that organisations were like gardens to be tended rather than Meccano sets that could be assembled and dissembled at will. Herrero says the structural "plumbing" approach does not work in the highly networked social environments of today.
Rather that the traditional "big issues, big initiatives, big sets of actions + all management levels + massive communication and training = change (initiative)" Herrero recommends Viral Change. This involves using "small sets of behaviours + small number of people + internal networks of influence = fast sustainable change". You don't even need all the top executives on board to achieve effective change this way.
The book starts with 15 "change management assumptions" which are progressively more or less debunked. These include "big change requires big actions; only change at the top can ensure change within the organisation; and people are resistant to change". A key concept is that we should focus on changes to everyday behaviour rather than culture change as happens in traditional approaches. Small changes in behaviour will change the culture.
There are 15 chapters over 387 pages. The main arguments are presented in four sections: Language, frames and conversations; new behaviours; tipping points; rules and rituals ("cultures"). There are countless lists and many diagrams and flowcharts. The result is a "how to do it" approach that is both radical and workable.
You can get a feel for what the book is about by going to [...] where there are lots of materials including presentations.
Viral Change is self-published. Despite being a second edition it needs a professional edit and justifies printing using proportional spacing. Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended for experienced practitioners who wish to understand how to best manage change in organisations. Don't attempt a change program without a careful read of this one. It will cause you to think hard, but you'll enjoy doing it.