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.
Homo Imitans is a good read. Herrero presents his arguments in a way that successfully marries some challenging propositions and background research with a conversational style. It is far removed from the superficial ‘one-minute-management’ genre of books. But it is also highly accessible. And it’s easy to see how adoption of the approach could itself become infectious – after all, I’m blogging about it here! At the same time, there are some differences between Viral ChangeTM and informal coalitions that I feel are important. But I want to address those in a forthcoming post. Here, I want briefly to outline the content of Homo Imitans and attempt to draw out some of Herrero’s main points.
The fundamental proposition of the book is that “the only change is behaviour change” and that this is brought about primarily through people copying the behaviours of others. It is through this process, according to Herrero, that cultures are formed and that change is achieved. People become ‘infected’ with new ways of behaving as they imitate the behaviours of influential others in their social networks. Importantly, from the perspective of Viral ChangeTM, this process can be orchestrated to bring about specific outcomes.