AMI Consultancy Blog



How creativity can change...

This is a short but interesting statement by Daniel Pink. Look and learn.




The Soul of Leadership by Ángel Cabrera

For years some of us warned against the perils of an economy driven exclusively by self-interest (made evident by the financial disaster of 2008) and vigorously argued for management, like other professional disciplines, to require its members to accept a code of conduct and make a public commitment to do no harm. We even went as far as to propose various versions of such a code of conduct, and now some of these codes have actually been adopted by MBA students (e.g. the MBA Oath started at Harvard), business schools (e.g. Thunderbird), and international associations (e.g. the Forum of Young Global Leaders). The Oath Project was established last year, as well, to propose a universal professional code of conduct for managers, the current draft of which has been endorsed by organizations such as the United Nations Global Compact, the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders, Net Impact, and the Aspen Institute.
But perhaps the message we have yet to convey in a compelling enough way is that a commitment to serve the public good not only benefits society but also is a vital element of effective leadership and a precondition for organizational success.


Why Controlling Bosses Have Unproductive Employees by Andrew O’Connell

Believe it or not, the mere thought of you can make your employees do a lousy job.
In fact, if your employees consider you a controlling person, even an unconscious thought of you can have a negative effect on their performance. If, for example, they were to happen to subliminally see, out of the corner of their eyes, your name flash for 60 milliseconds, you could expect them to start working less hard. Even if they didn't intend to slack off.


A great animation on what motivates us people


Organisatieverandering volgens Pfeffer en Sutton

1400976.jpgJeffrey Pfeffer en Robert Sutton ontzenuwen in hun boek Hard Facts, dangerous half-truths and total nonsense een aantal hardnekkige veronderstellingen over management, organisatiesucces en verandering. Wat zij over succesvolle verandering schrijven is boeiend.
Op overtuigende wijze tonen de auteurs aan dat een aantal wijdverbreide overtuigingen over verandering niet kloppen zoals: 1. dat organisatieverandering per definitie lang duurt, 2. dat organisatieverandering per definitie moeilijk tot stand te brengen is, 3) dat organisatieverandering top down moet worden aangepakt en 4) dat organisatieverandering het beste langzaamaan aangepakt kan worden.
Vervolgens beschrijven Pfeffer en Sutton op basis van hun analyse van het hun bekende onderzoek wat zij zien als de basis van succesvolle organisatieverandering.
Zij identificeren vier kenmerkende elementen van succesvolle organisatieverandering die ze The Big Four noemen:
1. Ontevredenheid: om verandering te laten slagen is het nodig dat mensen een ontevredenheid ervaren met de status quo.
2. Richting: tijdens het veranderingsproces moeten mensen steeds bewust blijven van wat het is dat ze willen veranderen en ‘welke kant het op moet’. Het is essentieel hierover steeds te blijven communiceren.
3. Balans tussen vertrouwen en twijfel: het uitstralen van vertrouwen is belangrijk. Een positieve verwachting van succes blijven uitstralen kan een self-fulfilling prophecy opleveren. Dit vertrouwen moet wel worden gecombineerd met het op gezette tijden aandacht hebben voor twijfels, onzekerheden zodat je open blijft staan voor nieuwe gebeurtenissen en feiten en gevoelens.
4. Omarming van rommeligheid: accepteer dat er altijd fouten, slordigheden, onduidelijkheden en tegenvallers kunnen optreden. Beschouw deze dingen als normaal onderdeel van de verandering. “Point at solutions instead of at each other”.  


Douglas Adams: Parrots the Universe and Everything

A great lecture on evolution!


'It's Not All About You' by Deborah Ancona and Elaine Backman

An interesting article on the concept of distributed leadership (DL). Maybe some aspects are already incorporated in your organisation or project?

Scholarly journals and business publications are filled with accounts of organizations moving from traditional bureaucratic structures to new, flatter forms. They require new leadership practices that rely less on the individual efficacy of a few "great men" and more on the collective efficacy of formal and informal networks--a shift that, in the words of CISCO CEO John Chambers, you could almost call "as revolutionary as the assembly line."

The leadership literature has not kept pace with this shift. In a review of recent leadership articles in top-tier academic journals, we found that roughly 85% assume a hierarchical leadership structure. Nevertheless, new research into what we call "distributed leadership" — incorporating what others have termed "shared", "collaborative", or "complexity" leadership — has shown that:
1) Leadership functions can be spread across multiple individuals and teams — even to those outside the firm
2) Leadership can be taken on by those not in formal leadership roles — in one organization almost 60% of employees self-identified as leaders
3) Change can be driven from the bottom up-at Southwest Airlines, for instance, front-line employees took the lead in devising new ways to reduce turnaround times and developing electronic ticketing.
Our own studies of companies well known for such distributed leadership (DL) have so far validated these arguments. But they've also produced some surprises.

Don't throw Caesar out with the bath water. High levels of DL have not meant the end of the "great man (or woman)" at the top. Often a strong centralized leader designs the distributed model and sustains it in its early years. After a transition period, this leader — or a top leadership team — still steps in from time to time to make key decisions that keep the firm aligned with external demands.
Even in the extremely distributed network that develops the Linux operating system, for instance, founder Linus Torvalds maintains ultimate authority for protecting the brand and deciding on what code is included in new releases. Typically, centralized leadership also weighs in when lots of local decisions are getting in the way of economies of scope and scale, or when time constraints require a short circuiting of more consensus-based decision-making. In short, top-level formal leaders still play a key role, but their responsibilities are changing.
Beyond Empowerment. In DL organizations employees have an "I can" mindset and feel free to redesign their own jobs or even the company. But these organizations go beyond individual empowerment.
First, successful DL companies work not only to increase the voice of front line workers, but also to inject more lateral and external voices into the generation, vetting, and selection of ideas. P&G, for instance, augments its internal R&D with its "connect and develop" program, which invites suggestions from networks outside the company to boost innovation and find new markets.
Second, successful DL companies do not leave collaboration to the predilections of individuals, but build it into structures, reward systems and HR practices. At Cisco, cross-functional councils and boards were created to quickly make strategic decisions and respond to new opportunities. In addition, a significant portion of senior managers' compensation is based upon peer ratings of how well they collaborate.
Third, successful distributed leadership companies take steps to protect their collaborative cultures. In one company a leader successfully turned around a division, but was let go because he used a command-and-control style. And when Google went public, its founders issued a letter to potential investors explaining that the company would not adopt the "standard structure of public ownership" and had instead designed a distinctive structure to protect its culture of creativity and challenge.
Free to Fly, but not to Crash. The DL literature focuses primarily on the liberating aspects of this new form of leadership; spreading decision making power, influence, and voice to increase innovation and adaptability. We have found that successful DL companies also distribute the protective functions of alignment, control and risk mitigation. They bound the chaos that might result from DL by providing guiding principles and an organizational mindset.
For example, at PARC, engineers are encouraged to aim for "triple word scores" that pair technical innovation with customer satisfaction and economic return for the firm. Further, PARC employees learn the company's business model, financial priorities, and strategic imperatives so they can align their work to organizational objectives. At W.L. Gore each associate takes on the responsibility of making sure that no one "hits below the waterline" and sinks the whole ship. Thus, all Gore associates are expected to actively practice risk mitigation.
Another form of control and risk mitigation we found in successful DL companies is the use of structures and processes to vet and select the many ideas that filter up. Some have electronic feedback and voting on new ideas. Some have many open forums for discussion. Still others have committees that choose which ideas actually move forward.
Our research has shown that distributed leadership is more complicated than we originally anticipated. It is clear, however, that leadership will entail a new balance between networks and individuals, personality and practices, and freedom and control.
Deborah Ancona is the Seley Distinguished Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Faculty Director of the MIT Leadership Center.
Elaine Backman is a Research Scientist at the MIT Leadership Center.


Sometimes you need some creative guts, to get a job...


Four Things Employees Need From Leaders by Cleve Stevens

In 2000, Cox Communications' Arizona branch hadn't met a budget for three years, their P&L was in shambles and morale was in the cellar. Today, the branch models organizational effectiveness, and is the U.S.-based company's largest and most successful region. A $1.6 billion operation blanketing the state, it is envy of cable systems industry-wide. What caused this dramatic change in success? All it took was a reevaluation of leadership style, and the profits followed.
Steve Rizley took over Cox Arizona at this pivotal time. A caring but tough, naturally gifted leader, Steve immediately went to work focusing on the people in his organization. In wise hands, this transformational style of leadership yielded staggering growth — like growing from $700 million to $1.3 billion, in little more than two years. So what's at the heart of their version of leadership?

Richard St. John's 8 secrets of success

A speedy talk on how to become successful. But with some great (and maybe 'simple') insights. But aren't those insights the most valuable anyway? It's easy and therefore it's difficult. Because in the end, the secret is just hard work...


No new customers, interesting thought of Seth Godin

What if a rift in the time-space continuum changed the universe and it was suddenly impossible to get new customers, new readers, new donors or new viewers?

How would that change what you do all day and how you spend your money and what you measure?
What if you tried acting that way now?
[What I meant: if you can't get new customers or new friends or new colleagues, perhaps you could take really good care of the ones you've got? Cherish them, in fact.]


How great leaders inspire action. A TED talk by Simon Sinek

 Simon is able to explain leadership, inspiration and action by a simple model. An absolute must-see!


AMI consultancy implementation lesson: Interaction is the foundation

Implementation is using cooperation as a tool to get people involved. It is important to realise that the act of doing things together, working together and playing together generates positive forces. Forming teams and engaging them in initiatives promotes cooperation.

A true team sets out a shared task or performance. A task in which the team members need each other to perform. Working towards this performance together in a team creates bonding: bonding between people and bonding with the objectives.

In teams, people get to know each other. Knowledge and experience is exchanged and used in concert. People learn the value of supporting and inspiring each other. And what is perhaps most important: because cooperation means personal investment, it creates responsibility. And responsibility breeds involvement.

Consciously working on the team foundation at the start of an implementation has positive effects on understanding, confidence and responsibility. Better interaction in and between teams facilitates effective and directed co-implementation. 
Raymond Maas is managing partner of AMI consultancy.


Are You an In or an Out Leader? Interesting leadership question by Gill Corkindale

Gill Corkindale is an executive coach and writer based in London, focusing on global management and leadership. She was formerly management editor of the Financial Times.

I have just spent an intensive week coaching executives in a global organisation, asking my clients the simple question: are you an "In" or an "Out" leader?

By that, I mean, how much time and energy are you spending in (or with) your team and how much time out in the wider organisation? It might seem like a simple question, but executives rarely take the time to think about it. It's important to do though, because this single question could answer many other questions that you — or your boss — have about your style and effectiveness.


Steve Jobs: Master of Innovation by John H. Ostdick

The Apple founder birthed the personal computer, was banished from his empire and then saved it from ruin. Along the way, he changed the way we work, play and communicate. And he's not done yet.
This article gives a great summary of the enormous impact and influence of Steve Jobs this decade. What can you learn from him?
On a foggy, cool day in January, Steve Jobs and Apple are bidding to change the world again. Jobs sits comfortably in a leather chair in front of a rapt San Francisco auditorium crowd, a large video screen tracking his hand movements on a thin, slate-looking object resting comfortably in his hands. Dressed in his trademark blue jeans, dark turtleneck, and New Balance shoes, the wire-framed Apple co-founder and culture-shaper peppers his speech with “remarkable, awesome” and “amazing” references to his company’s latest new wave—a notebook device called the iPad. This “truly magical and revolutionary product” fills a category need between his company’s successful laptop and iPhone and iPod business lines, Jobs says.


Pandora’s Briefcase by Malcolm Gladwell

This is a great story on espionage in the second world war and a complex example on scenario thinking and strategy. Or do you also need to be lucky to deceive your opponent? 

In the months before the invasion of Sicily, British spies fooled 
German spies with a caper inspired by a detective novel.
On April 30, 1943, a fisherman came across a badly decomposed corpse floating in the water off the coast of Huelva, in southwestern Spain. The body was of an adult male dressed in a trenchcoat, a uniform, and boots, with a black attaché case chained to his waist. His wallet identified him as Major William Martin, of the Royal Marines. The Spanish authorities called in the local British vice-consul, Francis Haselden, and in his presence opened the attaché case, revealing an official-looking military envelope. The Spaniards offered the case and its contents to Haselden. But Haselden declined, requesting that the handover go through formal channels—an odd decision, in retrospect, since, in the days that followed, British authorities in London sent a series of increasingly frantic messages to Spain asking the whereabouts of Major Martin’s briefcase.
It did not take long for word of the downed officer to make its way to German intelligence agents in the region. Spain was a neutral country, but much of its military was pro-German, and the Nazis found an officer in the Spanish general staff who was willing to help. A thin metal rod was inserted into the envelope; the documents were then wound around it and slid out through a gap, without disturbing the envelope’s seals.


Get rid of the crappy stuff (Advice from Steve Jobs)


'Leadership — It's (Much) More than Position' by Sue Ashford and Scott DeRue

 (Editor's note: This post is part of a six-week blog series on how leadership might look in the future.)

Walk into any organization and ask people to name a leader and the most frequent response will be the name of the CEO. This conflation of "leader" with "person at the top of the hierarchy has been reinforced by legions of academics with access to samples of people holding supervisory positions and claiming to be studying leadership. Estimates suggest that 84% of leadership research between 2003 and 2008 equated leaders with formal supervisors.

It is true that people holding positions of authority in organizations can be leaders, and it is certainly true that individuals holding such positions often have more freedom and autonomy to take leader-like actions. Yet, most of us have seen people in such positions who are decidedly not leaders. And we have likely all seen extraordinary acts of leadership from people who do not occupy supervisory positions. Bob Quinn argues persuasively that leadership is a state that individuals, in positions of authority or not, might enter and exit at various times in their work lives.


3 Tips for Asking Better Questions

For leaders to be effective, they need to connect honestly with others: investors, direct reports, fellow leaders. Asking good questions can not only help you find out essential information, but also lay the groundwork for collaboration. Often it's not about what you ask, but how. Here are three tips for improving the way you ask questions:
  1. Be curious. Doing all the talking doesn't make you an effective leader. Be inquisitive and ask about topics that are important to you and to the person with whom you're talking.
  2. Be open-ended. Use what, how, and why questions. Don't just ask about events, but about thoughts and motivations as well.
  3. Dig deeper. Don't accept the first answer you get. Ask follow-up questions to get more detail and surface the real story

Found on


Leadership on the Brain by by David Rock

Found on Harvard Business Review.
Want to be a leadership researcher? All you need are eyes and ears, and the ability to notice and describe patterns. Or if you want to test your theories, you might need to know how to set up social science experiments. 
This situation is good for the publishing industry — an Amazon search shows 60,352 books in the 'leadership' category — but there are still huge gaps in our understanding of leadership. We still don't know if it's more about traits, attributes and competencies, or about what followers need. Leadership development still involves a lot of guesswork. As a result, organizations don't have enough good leaders, and some of the leaders we have do some remarkably unintelligent things (like betting the housing market will go up forever.)


different types leadership styles

a video. Three small examples of leadership styles.  Maybe it is the traditional view on leadership; the leader who leads an organization... But still interesting enough to share in my opinion.


the future of learning