AMI Consultancy Blog



How Reframers Unleash Innovation in Their Companies (And Beyond) by Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, Prasad Kaipa, Simone Ahuja

There is a quiet revolution unfolding in your industry — led by some of your smartest competitors. If you are a manager, you may be completely unaware of it because you can't see it in the streets, nor watch it on the news. This new revolution is actually happening inside the heads of the leaders running your rival firms. We call it a mental model revolution. Let us explain....

A select group of smart leaders are reframing their mental models — i.e., radically shifting their perception of the world — to conjure up disruptive business model innovations that could rewrite the rules of the game in your industry. We call them the "Reframers." Here are examples of three:

Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo. Nooyi, ranked by Fortune as the world's most powerful woman, is reframing the very essence of what the food and beverage industry should be — shifting its vocation from feeding people to nourishing them. She is taking a cue from Ayurveda (India's 5,000-year old traditional medicine system) which states that "food is medicine and medicine is food." Until now, the food and medical industries have operated separately; Nooyi wants to bridge them by reframing PepsiCo as a wellness solution provider. To deliver this commitment, Nooyi is radically shifting PepsiCo's business model by flipping the ratio between "fun-for-you" products (e.g., Pepsi drinks and Frito Lay chips) and "good-for-you" products (sold under brands such as Tropicana and Quaker). Specifically, Nooyi wants to increase revenues from good-for-you products from $10 billion today to $30 billion by 2020.


Impressive lecture on time management by Randy Pausch

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch gave a lecture on Time Management at the University of Virginia in November 2007. Randy Pausch -- -- is a virtual reality pioneer, human-computer interaction researcher, co-founder of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center -- -- and creator of the Alice -- -- software project. The slides for this lecture and high-res downloadable versions of this and other lectures can be found at:


Why size matters....


how to manage generation Y (and what we can learn from baby boomers)

Recently, Harvard Business Review, in collaboration with Right Management, sponsored a webinar during which I spoke about the characteristics that I believe will make the members of Generation X strong leaders for the decade ahead. We didn't have time to get to all the questions that came in, so let's begin a discussion of some of them here. I hope you'll share your own views.

Characteristics of Gen X Outside the U.S.
You asked: Are the characteristics of the generation consistent, or do they vary by country? What about Gen X in Mexico? This concept seems to be completely foreign to our clients in the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean. What about X'ers in India, China, or Brazil?
The characteristics of a generation are heavily influenced by events that occur during its members' formative years, roughly ages 11 to 14. Clearly, national, cultural, socioeconomic, religious, and other differences have a big influence on the views and behaviors we each develop.
However, Gen X is the first generation for whom the global reach of technology began to allow a significant number of individuals to share experiences across national boundaries in many (but by no means all) parts of the world. As a result, I find many common themes among those born in the 1960s and 1970s (my definition of Generation X). Economic uncertainty and domestic social change were common themes in many countries. Latin American economies were experiencing persistent financial crises, and the economy in the United States and much of Europe was in the doldrums. Many of the most common names for this generation reflect the disenfranchisement that many X'ers share: "Crisis Generation" is the term often used in Latin America, "Génération Bof" (meaning "whatever") in France, and "The Burnt Generation" in Iran.


Company culture: what we can learn from Zappos

Four Lessons on Culture and Customer Service from Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh

Zappos, the online shoe retailer, is legendary for its employee culture and customer service. Paying employees to quit; offering customers free shipping both ways and a year to make returns; and hiring 24/7 phone reps who are as courteous, kind, and upbeat as Four Seasons concierges are all part of the Zappos formula.
When I caught up with CEO Tony Hsieh in California a few months ago, we spoke about how his company's culture came to be, and about selling the company to Amazon for $850 million last summer (a deal now worth more than $1 billion with the appreciation of Amazon's stock). Here were the four lessons I took away from one of the great serial entrepreneurs of our time:


Matt Ridley on how ideas have sex...

At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It's not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.


Jeremy Rifkin on empathy and the impact on our society

Bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society.


Developing future leaders. Can we change the definition of leadership? By Mitch McCrimmon

There is almost universal agreement that leadership is a skill that can be learned. This belief is based on a conventional definition of leadership which is jumbled together with management. But there are many ways to show leadership outside of managerial roles. 
So what if we change the definition of leadership?
Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela had a one-off leadership impact on their respective governments without being members of those governments and having no authority within them. Similarly, when knowledge workers promote new products to management, they have a one-off leadership impact with no managerial authority over their bosses.
Leading by example is not restricted to those in managerial roles. Employees can show leadership by example to their colleagues. And companies can show leadership by example with innovative products despite having no managerial authority over their markets.


Kotter on change and leadership: the importance of urgency

John P. Kotter (born 1947), is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership Emeritus at Harvard Business School, and is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost authorities on change and leadership.
A prolific writer, Kotter's books include Leading Change, Our Iceberg is Melting, Corporate Culture and Performance, and A Force for Change. No fewer than seven of his books have won awards or honours.
In Leading Change, Kotter cites eight steps that are essential for leading successful change.
Organizations, he says, need to: have a sense of urgency; create a powerful, guiding coalition; develop vision and strategy; communicate the change vision; empower broad-based action; celebrate short-term wins; continuously reinvigorate the initiative with new projects and participants; and anchor the change in the corporate culture.

Of these, he says, urgency as the most important guiding force especially at the outset of a change initiative.
In his most recent book, A Sense of Urgency (Harvard Business School Press, 2008), he returns to the issue.
John Kotter talked to Des Dearlove about why he felt the time was right to revisit the theme – and about his own sense of urgency to improve leadership practise.

Leadership and change are the two central themes of your work. To what extent are the two synonymous?

They are tightly interconnected. Great leaders mobilise people to do something that creates a new state of affairs. They take a situation that was going off the cliff and bring it all the way back, or they take a situation that seemed fine and make it better.
It is no coincidence that my two favourite political leaders in the twentieth century are Churchill and Mandela, both associated with huge changes.
Your latest book is about creating a sense of urgency. Why did you return to that topic now?

A few years back, we produced a research report that said 70 percent of change efforts either didn't stick or went down the drain or were disappointing. Then we studied the top 10 percent and then 5 percent and found there was a pattern to successful change with eight steps.
That report got an incredible reception, so we followed up with the second study and found some additional pieces that turned out to be very important.
When people talked to me, the single biggest question was, out of all these eight steps, which did people have the most difficulty with? I thought about that, looked at what I knew and said it's the first one. It's all about a sense of urgency. And then I started creating the next research project.
What did you learn from that research?

Three things. Number one, it reinforced my first instinct that urgency was the key. Number two I discovered that people often thought they had a sense of urgency when they didn't. And number three, even when leaders recognised that it was a problem, and we were talking about in some cases very sophisticated people, they still didn't know what to do about it.
So urgency is a prerequisite for successful change. But it has to be a certain sort of urgency?

That was one of the big insights that came out of the research. Real urgency, the kind that seems to be associated with these top 5 percent attempts to make useful change, is at the thinking level. It's this deep belief, based on data, that there are huge opportunities, and huge hazards out there in the world today that affect you and your business.
More importantly, at a gut emotional level, it is this almost irrational determination to get out there, find the opportunities, take advantage of them, duck the hazards and to win -- and to do that starting NOW!
Even with the best intentions it's easy to get bogged down in day-to-day tasks. How do the successful change leaders avoid that?

This isn't a leader who says I'm going to make progress in the next six months. That isn't urgent enough. Urgency is when a leader says I'm going to start to make this happen today! This is so important that it takes priority over everything and their behaviour models that to other people.
In the book you also describe another phenomenon that you call false urgency?

That's right. False urgency is the killer, because it gets mistaken constantly for real urgency, which creates huge problem.
That's the sort of headless chicken behaviour. But what causes it and what can we do about it?

False urgency tends to be driven by anxiety, fear, and sometimes anger. It is usually produced by pressure being put on people. And in terms of behaviour, it's just this frenetic-ness; it's this running in circles; it's the meeting, meeting, meeting, task force, task force, task force, report, report, report, sort of behaviour.
But it's activity not productivity. It's not being driven by this determination to do something now; it's being driven by anxieties and angers. But because it's energetic, people from a distance will mistake it for urgency.
Can you give an example of that?

Three weeks ago, I had an executive in my living room who runs a division of big company. I've had I don't know how many conversations like this. John, he said, we've got to make some big changes. OK, I said, can I ask you some questions? He agreed.
I'm looking at you and you seem to have a sense of urgency that something has to be done, I said. He agreed. Then I said, how many people in your organisation share that sense of urgency? Plenty, he said - that's not the issue. The issue is execution. They're just not getting it done.
What was your response to that?

Well, I said wait a minute - time out. Why do you draw that conclusion so quickly? About what? He said. About the urgency, I said. Just come to the offices, he said. It's amazing the amount of people working until 7:30 every night. OK, I said, give me ten minutes.
So I went upstairs and made a phone call to a former student of mine who works at the same company - two levels below the boss. I asked him to tell me a little about what was going on, and he started to talk and there was a huge disconnect between the boss and just two levels down. So the boss is ready to run but there is no clarity about the direction. Thank goodness he talked to me and I managed to slow him down a bit.
And that's false urgency?

Yes. I see this all the time: the disconnect is huge between what the boss says and what the reality is down there. And, of course, that means the boss goes rushing off, assuming that he's got some base. And then he says we need to communicate and execute.
First, he's communicating something that very often is difficult to understand; and second he's communicating it to people who are waiting for bad news. The propensity to want to listen, to want to grab and do it, is zero.
So eventually when he discovers this six months later he says I have this execution problem - which means, I've done my job, they're not doing theirs. And surprise, surprise, two years later they haven't achieved the change and it's a mess.
You see this pattern a lot?

The number of times I've seen that, it makes you want to throw tables out of the window. When that's happening in too many places in the economy, in your government and so on, the resources they're wasting are huge.
What can organizations do about it?

You have to start reconnecting with what's going on outside. There are dozens of ways you can start reconnecting. For example, what percentage of the people in the organization have gone and visited, oh, I don't know, Google? Point 000000000.1%?
Now some people would come back saying, this has no real relevance. That's defensive. But it's impossible that some people wouldn't come back with a different perspective and start spreading that to other people.
There are lots of little things that you can do to reconnect.
What else can leaders do?

The other big one is just getting enough people at enough levels to start acting with urgency.
So that's modelling it?

How does a leader do that?

By not looking complacent himself. Something that drives people crazy is when a leader says we face many challenges -- oh it's time for tea. You get people doing this. And they don't mean to, they're not stupid people, they're not evil people, they just have learned that. But if you get enough of these people acting with real urgency then it starts to spread.
Can you give an example of that?

When Lou Gerstner took over as CEO of IBM, the company was in crisis but no one inside had any sense of urgency. A month into the job and the yearly business reviews were due. This was a very structured thing; it had been done this way for years.
Each of the divisions came in to the room at HQ and they make their presentations to the senior management. And it's all the same. There's a little wooden podium and a screen and a projector, and the guy would get up in his suit and tie, and the lights would go down and he starts reading a speech.
The whole thing is building up to say why they're doing a fine job and why they need more resources. So Gerstner sat through a couple of these and then five minutes into the third one, he says could somebody turn up the lights. And then he goes around the table, and he looks at the projector and he clicks it off. And then he goes back to his place and he rolls up his sleeves and he says, guys, why don't we just talk about the business?
That story travels faster than any other form of communication. The IBM guy in China knows it within 24 hours because Gerstner knows that talking about the business is the only way to save the business.
You guys are losing all this money, he says, and you're going to die. We can't let you die. Do you know how many families depend on this company? This is not going to happen. We're going to figure out a way to do this and we're going to start figuring it out today. We're going to end this afternoon with some decisions that I'm going to start implementing and you're going to start implementing next week to get this thing rolling.
And that's urgency.

Yes, that's urgency.



Henri Minzberg on management vs leadership; an interview

Henry Mintzberg was once labelled the enfant terrible of management thinking. His 1973 book, The Nature of Managerial Work, challenged the managerial status quo. Mintzberg examined what real managers actually spent their doing and concluded they weren't as cerebral nor as scientific as others would have us believe. 

Over the last four decades, Mintzberg has continued to plough an idiosyncratic but compelling intellectual furrow. His latest book, Managing, brings together many of Mintzberg's common themes as he seeks to establish what managers do and should be doing – and the implications of this for organisations and educators. He talks to Stuart Crainer.


The secret powers of time and the influence on people

Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world.


Leadership and dealing with complexity by Brian Amble

The world is becoming more volatile, more uncertain and more complicated. That makes life tough for CEOs trying to navigate this complexity, many of whom don't believe that either they or their organisations are equipped to deal with it. 

How to respond to an increasingly complex, volatile and uncertain world is the primary challenge facing today's CEOs, according to a report from IBM's Institute for Business Value. And with all this uncertainty comes ambiguity - something a surprising number of CEOs feel ill-equipped to handle.
The report, which interviewed more than 1,500 CEOs from companies of all sizes across 60 countries, says that CEOs are confronted with a "complexity gap" that poses a bigger challenge than any factor measured in eight years of CEO research.
Eight out of 10 of the CEOs interviewed expect their environment to grow significantly more complex over the next few years, but fewer than half believe they know how to deal with it.
Many echoed the sentiments of one Energy and Utilities CEO in the United States who said, "Most people are looking backward, wishing it was still like it always was."
At the heart of this complexity is the growing interconnectedness of economies, enterprises, societies and governments, plus an increasingly volatile economic climate. Technology is exacerbating this, creating a world that is massively interconnected.
For organisations, this complexity mean that business models, ways of working and long-held assumptions can rapidly evaporate. But at the same time, identifying areas of future growth is not easy in an environment characterised by a huge number of discrete markets, proliferating product and service categories and ever-narrower customer segments.
In previously research - both from IBM and other organisations - CEOs have consistently identified change as their most pressing challenge. But the it appears that many believe that incremental change is no longer sufficient in a world that is operating in fundamentally different ways. They have to address what customers now care about and fundamentally reassess how value is generated.
CEOs believe this is nothing less than a revolution that demands a new type of leader. But the Key characteristic of this leader comes as something of a surprise. Because while they need to able to reinvent customer relationships and build new levels of organisational dexterity, the most important leadership competency identified by CEOs is "creativity".
In fact, asked to prioritise the three most important leadership qualities in the new economic environment, creativity was selected as being the most important by six out of 10 of the CEOs interviewed, ahead of integrity (cited by just over half) and global thinking (cited by one third).
So why creativity? Because creative leaders can embrace "disruption" and are able to reinvent their organisation to engage more effectively with today's customers, partners and employees.
Creative leaders are prepared to make more radical changes to their business models, take more calculated risks, find new ideas, and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate.
According to the report, those CEOs who are already capitalising on complexity are adopting new channels to engage and stay in tune with customers. They are making customer intimacy their number-one priority and integrating customers into their core processes.
They are also managing complexity on behalf of their organisations, customers and partners by simplifying their operations and products while increasing dexterity to change the way they work, access resources and enter markets around the world.
All of which poses as many questions as it answers. Most organisations, particularly large ones, are not nimble or entrepreneurial. They are slow to make decisions and actively discourage individuals who disrupt the status quo or who are prepared to question business models and cosy institutionalised thinking.
So where will this new generation of "disruptive leaders" come from? How will they overturn cultures characterised by caution and corporate inertia?
As far as the report is concerned, the answer is a simple matter of expediency. CEOs and their management teams must change or die.
"For CEOs and their organizations, avoiding complexity is not an option," it says, "the choice comes in how they respond to it. Will they allow complexity to become a stifling force that slows responsiveness, overwhelms employees and customers, or threatens profits? Or do they have the creative leadership, customer relationships and operating dexterity to turn it into a true advantage?"



On managing you time and the 'pomodoro technique'

Greg explains how he uses this technique to enable short bursts of useful concentration amidst his busy, distracted and multitasking life. 


A winning lesson from defeat (on team work and team development)

We got this analysis of one of our clients. A very interesting insight! Thank you Radesh and Peter!

As we watched Netherlands (2:1) come from behind and bash Brazil out of World Cup on Friday, Argentina became favourites for many and it was only when the German team crushed them in the most closely-watched match back home, there is a much-touted leadership lesson that came to life here: "teamwork", a word beaten to death and yet so seldom found in its complete manifestation.

Nothing exemplifies the importance of a good Team more than the humiliating 0:4 dismissal of Argentina. Running on hype, coached by a former star Maradona and dribbled by current shirt number 10 and superstar Messi (what a Mess), it was way past half-time that it realised the importance of teamwork. The stars concentrated on stellar individual performances; curiously, that’s what was expected of them. But they couldn’t make their way through an impermeable German defence as strong and resolute as the country’s exports and economic conservatism. Germany moved like one organization, one body with one mind.
How could any star fight that organisation? As Argentina gets dissected and blame flies from one moving goalpost to another, Maradona’s leadership that fought off player selection or his obstinacy will be the first to fall. In the smug leadership signal he provided, we expected entertainment, anytime Messi got the ball we looked forward to poetic dribbling, not winning. Wasn’t it the same with Ronaldo and Portugal (too much on one man's poor shoulders) and many others? Spare a thought for those classic misses that converted possible heroes into zeroes in a matter of seconds.

The focus of the German team, on the other hand, was clear: to win and no star came in the way. It moved like an efficient machine towards a singular goal, all parts offering their bit to that goal.

A week before Brazil’s defeat, an Officer with a fantastic track record upon taking on a new assignment, gave this leadership mantra over a cup of tea: Secret to leadership requires three connects: 1) to connect with all stakeholders; 2) to get all stakeholders to connect with one another; and 3) take that connection and connect it to the company’s goal.

If we look at the football field as a proxy for a marketplace of constantly-shifting client preferences, unpredictably-disruptive innovations and invisibly-dangerous threats, there are tricks and secrets that leaders of corporations and countries can take away once they’re done cheering or mourning their favourite teams. Of all these, there is one that underlines the complexities of our world today and strikes at the heart of today’s leadership: the ability to turn an organisation of disparate experts from around the World (stars, if you please) into a living, working team. Working either towards sustenance or growth in the current economic scenario that is easier said than done.

Don’t know whether Germany will go on to win this World Cup or not. Amongst the four teams in the field, it’s widely thought that they are very well placed. Play-on-the-day, Teamwork and Stars may convert chance into certain success. The coming days shall bear witness.

What’s our team like?
Is it like Brazil or like Argentina?
Or is it like the German team that played on Friday?
Or Oranje?
With or without Zwart?
With or without a dash of White, Yellow and Brown?
Or Global Oneness?

What's the point? Interesting thought by Seth Godin

An idea turns into a meeting and then it turns into a project. People get brought along, there's free donuts, there's a whiteboard and even a conference call.It feels like you're doing the work, but at some point, hopefully, someone asks, "what's the point of this?"

Is it worth doing?

Compared to everything else we could be investing (don't say 'spending') our time on, is this the scariest, most likely to pay off, most important or the best long-term endeavor?
Or are we just doing it because no one had the guts along the way to say STOP.

Are you doing work worth doing, or are you just doing your job?



The difference between running and managing a project

If you choose to manage a project, it's pretty safe. As the manager, you report. You report on what's happening, you chronicle the results, you are the middleman.

If you choose to run a project, on the other hand, you're on the hook. It's an active engagement, bending the status quo to your will, ensuring that you ship. Running a project requires a level of commitment that's absent from someone who is managing one.

Who would you rather hire, a manager or a runner?



The pattern behind self-deception Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things -- from alien abductions to dowsing rods -- boils down to two of the brain's most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble.


Leadership at Gettysburg

Acht gouden regels voor kennismanagement 2.0

Na enkele jaren wat meer op de achtergrond te zijn geweest, staat kennismanagement dankzij ontwikkelingen op het gebied van social software, web2.0 en communities of practice weer helemaal op de kaart. Nieuwe laagdrempelige tools als blogs, wiki’s en social bookmarking bieden echter geen enkele garantie voor succes. Acht gouden regels waar kennismanagers hun kennismanagementbeleid aan kunnen toetsen.

1. Het doel van kennismanagement is het faciliteren van kennisdeling
Kennis is voor steeds meer organisaties een onderscheidende factor. Daar komt de behoefte uit voort om kennis te managen. In de praktijk resulteert dit vaak in complexe processen van kennis-explicitering, waarbij de kennis uit de hoofden van experts wordt geabstraheerd en als informatie wordt opgeslagen in wat dan ‘kennisbanken’ wordt genoemd. Het probleem is dat deze neergeslagen informatie geen betekenis heeft zonder de context en al verouderd is op het moment dat het wordt opgeslagen in het systeem. Kennismanagers dienen te beseffen dat kennismanagement veel meer draait om het proces van kennisdeling, dan om de uiteindelijk uitgeschreven informatie. Kennismanagement 2.0 dient niet de ‘kennis’ maar ‘het proces van onderhandeling over kennisdeling’ te managen.


What we can learn from slums by Charles Leadbeater

Found on

Charles Leadbeater went looking for radical new forms of education -- and found them in the slums of Rio and Kibera, where some of the world's poorest kids are finding transformative new ways to learn. And this informal, disruptive new kind of school, he says, is what all schools need to become.