AMI Consultancy Blog



Marchal Goldsmith on 'an exercise in changing yourself'

When I first began my career as an executive educator, I challenged my clients to pick one to three behavior patterns for personal improvement. Now I realize that three patterns were too many. 
The problem was not a lack of motivation or intelligence — the problem was that they were just too busy. I teach my clients now to pick the one behavior pattern for personal change that will make the biggest difference, and to focus on that. If we pick the right area to change and actually do so, it will almost always influence other aspects of our relationships with people. For example, more effective listening will lead to being more successful in building teamwork, increasing customer satisfaction, and treating people with respect.


The doormat, the jerk and the lizard brain

Another great observation of Seth Godin on what drives people. Read his his blog:

The best reason to be a jerk at work is that of course no one will listen to you or support you or embrace your ideas--you're a jerk.
The best reason to be a doormat at work is that in your effort to get along, to be nice, and to go with the flow, of course you won't be expected to stand up and shout, "follow me" when your ideas might take you in a different direction.
Both extremes are the refuge of the lizard brain, the voice of the resistance. They reward the desire to fit in, not to stand out.
"It's not my job" is a comforting refrain when you'd like to hide out. So is, "they all hate me and won't do what I say."
Fear is the driver here, it's fear that pushes people in either of these two directions. That's because in between the two extremes lies responsibility and opportunity and the requirement that you actually do work that matters.
The hard part, the part that gets you rewarded, is understanding that sometimes it is best to use common sense and toe the line, while other times you are facing fear that must be overcome.
Linchpins might be afraid, but they know precisely what they're afraid of. And then they do something constructive about it.


15 Facts About China That Will Blow Your Mind

Marchal Goldsmith on 'the mark of a great leader'

Years ago, when most organizations were based on the hierarchical business model of the Industrial Age, great leaders were those who were unemotional, rational, even mechanistic. Those days are gone. Today's leader, especially one who is in charge of a dynamic, global organization, finds himself or herself in desperate need of one key trait — self-awareness.
An organization's success today depends on such a variety of talents and skills that no one leader could possibly be gifted in simultaneously. There are technological issues, global issues, financial issues, human resource issues, leadership issues, employee issues, legal issues, and more. A leader who is self-aware enough to know that he or she is not adept at everything is one who has taken the first step toward being a great leader.


On firm beliefs and 'unlearning'. Article of Craig Harper.

Do Your Beliefs Empower You or Limit You? What if it Just Ain’t True?

A few years ago one of my friends accidentally discovered that his dad was in fact not his dad at all. Ouch. At twenty seven years of age, he discovered that something he absolutely knew (not thought, hoped, or wished) to be fact, was in reality, not true at all. Let’s just say that his reaction wasn’t a totally positive one. It never occurred to him that his ‘truth’, may in fact, be a big lie. A well-meaning lie (his mum had tried to protect him). A noble lie (is there such a thing?). But a major deception nonetheless.


Entering new worlds of knowledge takes time

Alan Chalmers, die bekende Australische fysicus en wetenschapsfilosoof, citeert in zijn prachtige boek ‘What is this thing called science?’ Michael Polanyi die het als geen ander verwoordt heeft:

‘Think of a medical student attending a course in the X-ray diagnosis of pulmonary diseases. He watches in a darkened room shadowy traces on a fluorescent screen placed against a patient’s chest, and hears the radiologist commenting to his assistants, in technical language, on the significant features of these shadows. At first the student is completely puzzled. For he can see in the X-ray picture of a chest only the shadows of the heart and the ribs, with a few spidery blotches between them. The experts seem to be romancing about figments of their imagination; he can see nothing that they are talking about. Then as he goes on listening for a few weeks, looking carefully at ever new pictures of different cases, a tentative understanding will dawn on him; he will gradually forget about the ribs and begin to see the lungs. And eventually, if he perseveres intelligently, a rich panorama of significant details will be revealed to him: of physiological variations and pathological changes, of scars, of chronic infections and signs of acute disease. He has entered a new world. He still sees only a fraction of what the experts can see, but the pictures are definitely making sense now and so do most of the comments made on them. He is about to grasp what he is being taught; it has clicked.’ (Personal Knowledge, p. 106.)


Frightened, clueless or uninformed? What kind of people do you encounter in a change situation?

In the face of significant change and opportunity, people are often one of the three. If you're going to be of assistance, it helps to know which one.

Uninformed people need information and insight in order to figure out what to do next. They are approaching the problem with optimism and calm, but they need to be taught. Uninformed is not a pejorative term, it's a temporary state.

Clueless people don't know what to do and they don't know that they don't know what to do. They don't know the right questions to ask. Giving them instructions is insufficient. First, they need to be sold on what the platform even looks like.

And frightened people will resist any help you can give them, and they will blame you for the stress the change is causing. Scared people like to shoot the messenger. Duck.

The worst kind of frightened person is one with power. Someone in a mob of other frightened people, someone with a gun, someone who is the CEO. When confronted with a scared CEO, time to run. Before someone can change, they have to learn, and before they learn, they have to cease being scared.

One reason so many big ideas come from small organizations is that there is far less fear of change at the top. One mistake board members and shareholders make is that they reward the scared but hyper-confident CEO, instead of calling him on the carpet as he rages at change.

When I first encountered surfing, I was scared of it. It looks cool, but an old guy like me can get hurt. A patient instructor allayed my fears until I was willing to get started. When you first start out, the things you think are important are actually irrelevant, and it's the stuff you don't know is important that gets you thrown into the ocean. Finally, and only then, was I smart enough to actually learn.

I'm bad at surfing now, but at least I know why.

Comfort the frightened, coach the clueless and teach the uninformed.

Found on Seth's Blog (


Interesting thought on motivation - do you recognize this?

Shut up! Announcing your plans makes you less motivated to accomplish them

Shouldn't you announce your goals, so friends/colleagues can support you?
Isn't it good networking to tell people about your upcoming projects?
Doesn't the “law of attraction” mean you should state your intention, and visualize the goal as already yours?


Leadership lessons from the dancing guy

Are you a leader or a 'courageous first follower'?

And why doesn't this dancing leader get his first follower?


David Logan on tribal leadership


Hunters and Farmers

Of one of my favourite blogs: Seth's Blog. Seth Godin is a very influential marketeer with a keen eye for interesting observations and thoughts. Enjoy!

10,000 years ago, civilization forked. Farming was invented and the way many people spent their time was changed forever.
Clearly, farming is a very different activity from hunting. Farmers spend time sweating the details, worrying about the weather, making smart choices about seeds and breeding and working hard to avoid a bad crop. Hunters, on the other hand, have long periods of distracted noticing interrupted by brief moments of frenzied panic.
It's not crazy to imagine that some people are better at one activity than another. There might even be a gulf between people who are good at each of the two skills. Thom Hartmann has written extensively on this. He points out that medicating kids who might be better at hunting so that they can sit quietly in a school designed to teach farming doesn't make a lot of sense.


Learning is conscious experimentation

Implementation is the development of the ability to consciously learn from new experiences. This learning capacity is the catalyst for individual and collective growth. Individual learning is a process of choosing, experimenting, analysing and reflecting. This may be entirely clear and logical on paper, but in practice it's a bit harder than it looks.
  • Good choices demand insight and self-awareness.
  • Experimentation demands preparation and daring.
  • Analysis requires receiving feedback and looking at the facts.
  • Reflecting demands objectivity and drawing conclusions.
And then, you start the process all over again. And always document the individual experiences in a logbook. The transition from the "thinking mode" to the "doing mode" is a particularly difficult one. On the individual, personal level, the first insight can be a major breakthrough in itself. But it's easy to get sidetracked by the pleasure of the thinking side. Because without action, there can be no experimentation and no insight. Actions generate new energy, set direction and shape new possibilities.
The step from individual learning to a learning group (team, department or organisation) is something very different. The "learning to learn" from mutual knowledge and experiences demands a time investment and patient and ongoing training and practice of the principles of peer review. Succeeding here depends on the discipline of working on this as a matter of routine.
In our implementation support, we consistently invest in building up and promoting learning capacity. With coaching-on-the-job, simulations, work assignments, process evaluations and peer review.


How do we hire when we can't tell who's right for the job? Another great story by Malcom Gladwell

'I found this story on the blog of Malcom Gladwell  ( He is one of the best story tellers of this time and combines interesting business and management insights with common examples.Enjoy!' Raymond Maas.

1.On the day of the big football game between the University of Missouri Tigers and the Cowboys of Oklahoma State, a football scout named Dan Shonka sat in his hotel, in Columbia, Missouri, with a portable DVD player. Shonka has worked for three National Football League teams. Before that, he was a football coach, and before that he played linebacker—although, he says, "that was three knee operations and a hundred pounds ago." Every year, he evaluates somewhere between eight hundred and twelve hundred players around the country, helping professional teams decide whom to choose in the college draft, which means that over the last thirty years he has probably seen as many football games as anyone else in America. In his DVD player was his homework for the evening's big game—an edited video of the Tigers' previous contest, against the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.


The process approach is not 'soft'

Implementation is finding the right approach to get people moving in the right direction. We call this the project approach, and the central focus of this approach is the interaction between people in organisations. Putting the emphasis on the process often gives people the idea that the approach is "soft."
In any organisation, the most important thing is results, and disappointing results are often what is behind change or improvement programmes. Aren't results always hard and quantifiable? And described with the SMART principles?
But soft is as soft does, and results are also the central focus in implementation issues - that is to say, process results. By process results, we refer to the way in which people cooperate, make decisions and interact in organisations. In the process approach, we influence this interaction. With focused interventions, we work together with our clients to build new ways of working.
We set ourselves the objective of raising the quality of the interaction, which raises confidence in each other and in the organisation, and facilitates performing well together in order to go further as a healthy organisation. We make our main investment in the process approach because a good process leads to good results. 
This value is part of our AMI implementation philosophy. 
Raymond Maas is managing partner of AMI consultancy.