- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

My last Employee Engagement model (7/7): Activists on the payroll.

In this model, the employee (1) is an activist, (2) largely working peer-to-peer, and (3) progressing towards (if not arriving at) self-management. Let me qualify the three components.

1) Activist. This means acting. The word activist contains the word act. This is activism within the company and with the company. The cause (model 3) is the company’s cause, not somebody else’s or that of an adopted NGO. Activist (act) is not the same as Advocate (endorse). Using employees as advocates for the reputation of the company, and calling them activists is flawed.

In this model, activist is another name for employee. Empowerment is a redundant word. Everybody on the payroll is defacto empowered.

(2) Peer-to-peer. Work is organised (and most likely self-organised, although there may be different degrees within the company) as peer activity. The unit of work may be two or three people. Most progress (planning, decision, operations, control) is bottom-up. There is a top-down, well-defined framework, and well orchestrated Backstage Leadership™ that supports and enables without hindering the work through peer-to-peer networks.

(3) Self-management destination. I’ve written in these Daily Thoughts that the self-management train has left the station [1]. The employee as an activist is a necessary ingredient. In this model there is little ‘permission’ requested  from people, in favour of people taking action. There are no Ambassadors (people representing others), everybody represents himself or herself.

Pros. The model has the highest potential for employee engagement, since this bottom-up, grassroots driven, progressively self-managed and supported by Backstage Leadership™ workforce, contains most ‘with the company’ and ‘within the company’ components for such engagement.

Cons. Many people consider these approaches as only applicable to selected types of companies and industries. Many publicised examples of organizations navigating in these waters, are of software companies, which does not help in convincing other ‘harder industries’ that the principals may be equally relevant.

So what?  Readers may identify here in this model the spirit of Viral Change™. It would be pointless for me to be apologetic for my preferences!

These models are left here as tools, as bricks to build a house, not as pieces of dogma. It is perfectly reasonable to see ‘all of the above’ in one organization, to differing degrees. But there are choices to be made. If employee engagement is, for example, mainly biased towards model 1 or ‘Air time’, the organization will, look, feel and smell very different from organizations with another focus or, indeed, a combination of foci.

These Six Lego Pieces of Engagement will lead you, on their own or in combination, to very different lands.


Machines work on feed back, minds work on feed forward. Post Covid-19 we won’t need a thermostat. We’ll need a compass. Move North, East, West or South, but never back to normal. Because normal is not waiting for us. To combat the organizational impact of the pandemic, we need a behavioural counter-epidemic inside the company. This can be done but requires minds and hearts to get together in a real social movement, not the traditional ‘change programme’.

Start your social movement TODAY!



90 day programme [2] from The Chalfont Project, which will help you create sustainable behavioural and cultural change across your organization/team/department.


At The Chalfont Project [3], we have been orchestrating internal social movement in organizations for many years and we are ready to help you now, using the Five Disciplines of Viral Change™ [4]:


There is no change unless there is behavioural change. From supporting your business as you adjust to the ‘new normal’ to driving large scale cultural and behavioural change that is sustainable for the long term – we are your organization architects.

Contact my team [5] to find out more information about Feed Forward, or to discuss the many ways we can support your business.


Dr Leandro Herrero is the CEO and Chief Organization Architect of The Chalfont Project [3], an international firm of organizational architects, and the pioneer of Viral Change™ [6], a people Mobilizing Platform, a methodology that delivers sustainable, large scale behavioural and cultural change in organizations, which creates lasting capacity for changeability.
Dr Herrero is also an Executive Fellow at the Centre for the Future of Organization, Drucker School of Management.
An international speaker, Dr Herrero is regularly invited to speak at global conferences and corporate events. To invite Leandro to speak at your conference or business event contact: The Chalfont Project [5] or email: uk-office@thechalfontproject.com. [7]