AMI Consultancy Blog



How to Sell an Idea to Your Boss by Roberto Verganti

"My problem is not how to be innovative. My team often comes up with interesting ideas. But when we introduce them to top executives, they always turn them down. How can I convince my boss to invest in our ideas?" The question — asked at the end of a seminar on innovation at a major IT firm — did not surprise me.

One of the hardest challenges for creative people — especially those working in units such as R&D, design, or marketing — is how to win top management's support for their ideas. Many feel that their proposals are killed not because they have poor potential but because their boss simply does not understand them or does not even listen to the presentation. They feel frustrated and dream of working with CEOs like Steve Jobs or Alberto Alessi, who often invest in breakthroughs.


Forget Change Management by Holger Nauheimer

We are living in asynchronous times. There are still a lot of potential clients who haven’t even accepted that their complex projects don’t follow linear patterns. Some have just started to implement change management programmes. On the other side, many, in particular large international companies have gone through myriads of change projects and have experienced that even the smartest change management strategies can’t prevent that 60-80% of those projects fail.

It’s time to change change – forget change management.

Here is my analysis of the crisis of change management:


Ten Principles for Leadership Communication

by Robert P. Gandossy, Hewitt Global Practice Leader for Leadership, Talent, and Employee Engagement

Here are ten principles every great leader should know.
  1. Everything communicates. The way programs, policies, tools, and initiatives are designed and delivered communicates more strongly than the marketing and information about them. As a leader, how you act and what you do, communicates more clearly than the words coming out of your mouth.
  2. Model the behavior you are looking for from others. Communicate with your employees the way you would like to be communicated with — transparent, open, with respect and trust. And do the things you believe matter. If you focus on employees and customers, so will everyone else.
  3. Have a point of view. It's much easier to have consistent communication when you have a clear brand or market-facing value proposition and core values — whatever you want to call it. But whatever you call "it", you better have it. Just be sure it is clear, easy to remember, makes sense for the business, has an element of inspiration, differentiates you as an employer, will hold up for at least ten years, and is everyone's job to live it — and that means you.
  4. What you hear is as important as what you say. Communication is a two-way process. Have a number of upward channels and do something with what you hear — and tell people about it.
  5. You haven't communicated anything until you have been heard by your audiences. Understand your audience. Take a lesson from the marketers — know the demographics and psychographics of your various audiences and tailor communication messages, content, style, and channels to them.
  6. They both end in "tion" but there's a big difference between "information" and "communication". Communication influences thoughts, feelings, and actions. Information simply informs. And how you communicate depends on what you are communicating. If you are trying to engage people, don't use e-mail.
  7. Communicate courageously. If you communicate openly and honestly, you will make some mistakes but those mistakes will be better than the bland, sanitized, and uninspiring communications in many companies. And there will be times when you don't have the answer. Admit it. Your employees will understand and will respect your courage and honesty. Both are in short supply.
  8. Remember you are competing for attention. Every employee receives hundreds of messages every day. Your message competes with all of them. Each person selects what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Why should employees pay attention to messages from you?
  9. If it looks important, it must be important. How you package the communication about programs has a big impact on perceptions of the program itself. Match the packaging to the level of importance. And if you follow up, it must be even more important. Too many executives think once they've communicated, they are done. They couldn't be more wrong. Redundancy matters.
  10. Practice. Great communicators practice. A lot. Writers write and rewrite. Great orators like Winston Churchill and more contemporary speakers like Malcolm Gladwell practice and rehearse. Gladwell writes out every word of every speech. They are good at what they do because they work at it.
And if you do just one thing, do this: Choose future managers for their communication skills as much as their achievements. Front line managers have the greatest influence over an employee's engagement. Managers who are good communicators get more from their direct reports than managers whose strong skills lie elsewhere. Managers who are good communicators are the insurance policy for keeping the best workers focused, engaged, and productive.



Big Think interview on change with John Kotter.

The rate of change in our culture is increasing—and in order to compete, businesses need to increase their rate of change as well, says management guru John Kotter.
In his Big Think interview, Kotter, the chief innovation officer at Kotter International, says that the two biggest drivers of change right now are technology and globalization.  "They produce lots of sub drivers," he says, "like competition in industries and the like, and those two are not going to go away. Globalization is going to bring us closer and closer together across nations and technology you can’t stop. So, the amount of change is going to, I think and the rate is just gong to go up and up and up for I don’t know how long."



Maslow revised, Maslow's pyramid gets a much needed renovation by Skip Derra

Maslow's pyramid of needs vs. the revised Maslow's pyramid
Maslow's pyramid of needs was first developed in the 1940s; a revised version of the pyramid puts parenting at the top.
If you have ever felt that your children are your life’s work, then you may in fact be recognizing a high-level psychological need. Caring for your children, feeding them, nurturing them, educating them and making sure they get off on the right foot in life – all of the things that make parenting successful – may actually be deep-rooted psychological urges that we fulfill as part of being human.
This is according to a team of psychologists who have updated a cornerstone of modern psychology – Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of needs. Maslow’s pyramid describes human motivations from the most basic to the most advanced. But Maslow’s time-tested pyramid, first proposed in the 1940s, had begun to look a bit weathered and outdated.

So a team of psychologists, including two from Arizona State University, recast the pyramid. In doing so, they have taken on one of psychology’s iconic symbols and have generated some controversy along the way.
The revamp of Maslow’s pyramid reflects new findings and theory from fields like neuroscience, developmental psychology and evolutionary psychology, said Douglas Kenrick, an ASU professor of psychology and lead author of the paper, “Renovating the pyramid of needs: Contemporary extensions built upon ancient foundations.” The paper was published in the March issue of Perspectives on Psychological Sciences.


The Power Trip By JONAH LEHRER

Contrary to the Machiavellian cliché, nice people are more likely to rise to power. Then something strange happens: Authority atrophies the very talents that got them there.

When CEO Mark Hurd resigned from Hewlett-Packard last week in light of ethics violations, many people expressed surprise. Mr. Hurd, after all, was known as an unusually effective and straight-laced executive.
But the public shouldn't have been so shocked. From prostitution scandals to corruption allegations to the steady drumbeat of charges against corporate executives and world-class athletes, it seems that the headlines are filled with the latest misstep of someone in a position of power.

This isn't just anecdotal: Surveys of organizations find that the vast majority of rude and inappropriate behaviors, such as the shouting of profanities, come from the offices of those with the most authority.
[power1] Anthony Russo


A post-industrial A to Z digital battledore by Seth Godin

New times demand new words, because the old words don't help us see the world differently.
Along the way, I've invented a few, and it occurs to me that sometimes I use them as if you know what I'm talking about. Here, with plenty of links, are 26 of my favorite neologisms (the longest post of the year, probably):
A is for Artist: An artist is someone who brings humanity to a problem, who changes someone else for the better, who does work that can't be written down in a manual. Art is not about oil painting, it's about bringing creativity and insight to work, instead of choosing to be a compliant cog. (from Linchpin).
B is for Bootstrapper: A bootstrapper is someone who starts a business with no money and funds growth through growth. The internet has made bootstrapping much easier than ever, because the costs of creating and marketing remarkable things are cheaper than ever. It's really important not to act like you're well-funded if you're intent on bootstrapping (and vice versa). You can read the Bootstrapper's Bible for free.
C is for Choice: I didn't coin the term the Long Tail, but I wish I had. It describes a simple law: given the choice, people will take the choice. That means that digital commerce enables niches. Aggregating and enabling the long tail accounts for the success of eBay, iTunes, Amazon, Craigslist, Google and even
D is for Darwin: Things evolve. But evolution is speeding up (and yes, evolving). While it used to take a hundred thousand years for significant changes to happen to our physical culture, the nature of information and a connected society means that 'everything' might change in just a few months. Ideas that spread, win and organizations that learn from their mistakes lead the rest of us. (from Survival is Not Enough)


The 'no asshole rule' by Bob Sutton

Maybe we should all take this rule into account...


What the F**k is Social Media NOW?



Talent 2.0


Foundation elements for modern businesses by Seth Godin

 When you sit down to dream up a new business, you can imagine a world without constraints. Or you can choose to build in fundamental pieces that will make it more likely your idea will pay off.
Here are some fundamental pieces of most new successful businesses. The goal is to build these elements into the very nature of the business itself, not just to tack them on. For example, the Scotch tape people at 3M can't do #5, because of the structure of retail distribution and the way they mass produce and can't track who is buying what.
You can live without some of these, but go in with your eyes open if you do:
  1. Build in virality. Consider: Groupon.
  2. Don't sell a product that can be purchased cheaper at Amazon.
  3. Subscriptions beat one-off sales.
  4. Try to create an environment where your customers are happier when there are other customers doing business with you (see #1).
  5. Treat different customers differently.
  6. Generate joy, don't just satisfy a need for a commodity.
  7. Rely on unique individuals, not an easily copyable system.
  8. Plan on remarkable experiences, not remarkable ads.
  9. Don't build a fortress of secrets, bet on open.
  10. Unless there's a differentiating business reason, use off the shelf software and cheap cloud storage.
  11. The asset of the future is the embrace of a tribe, not a cheaper widget.
  12. Match expenses to cash flow--don't run out of money, because it's no longer 1999.
  13. Create scarcity but act with abundance. Free samples create demand for the valuable (but not unlimited) tier you offer.
  14. Tell a story, erect a mythology, walk the walk.
  15. Plan on obsolescence (of your products, not your customers).

3. The cost of selling a subscription to your product or service is not a lot higher than the cost of selling just one, but you benefit by having sales you can count on at low cost. Your customers benefit because you depend on them more and they save time.
5. Everyone has different needs and expectations and resources. The internet lets you tell people apart and give them what they need.
7. AKA as Linchpins.
9. If you're building a business on trade secrets or lack of information among your customers, you're trying to fill a leaky bucket. Far easier to bet on the more people know, the better you do.

10. Because cheap software and the cloud are going to continue to get cheaper, and custom work that's worth anything is going to continue to get more expensive.

12. The best people to fund your growth are your customers.
13. When the marginal cost of an interaction approaches zero, you benefit by creating plenty of them.
14. We can tell.



True success according to John Wooden.

 With profound simplicity, Coach John Wooden redefines success and urges us all to pursue the best in ourselves. In this inspiring talk he shares the advice he gave his players at UCLA, quotes poetry and remembers his father's wisdom.


When Your Employees Know More Than You by Marshall Goldsmith

Managing today's highly skilled professionals takes special skills — and not the ones that you may think. Oftentimes, knowledge workers know more than you do about their jobs. So, how do you manage people who know more about what they do than you do?
In such instances, you have to look at leadership through the wants and needs of the worker as opposed to the skills of the leader. Here are some quick tips for effectively managing knowledge workers.

Demonstrate passion
In days past, working 40 hours per week and taking 4-5 weeks of vacation meant that people often focused less on loving what they do. Today people work 60-80 hours a week and it's crucial that they love their work to avoid burnout. Those who lead by example and demonstrate passion for what they do make it much easier for their followers to do the same.


How to Succeed When Everyone Is in Charge? By Ron Ashkenas

Do you have more than one boss? Reporting to multiple managers is actually a pretty common phenomenon, even though many of us still retain the image (or perhaps the fantasy) of the traditional hierarchy with a single wise senior executive sitting at the top. The reality, however, is that most organizations today have more than one chain of command, and to be successful you need to navigate between them.

There are at least three variations of what we might call "multiarchies" (multiple hierarchies), and each requires different strategies.

The first type is the professional multiarchy in which different professional groups have parallel hierarchies with little or no connection at the top of the organization. Hospitals are the classic example. Physicians report up through their specialties and then loosely to a medical chief of staff; nurses are ultimately accountable to the senior vice president of nursing; non-medical specialists heed to their department heads; and everyone else is part of the "administration," which is run by the hospital president. While the hospital president is officially the CEO in this set-up, his or her power over the other hierarchies is limited. Universities and research organizations operate in much the same way; as do many government agencies which have parallel civil service, political, and professional hierarchies. A key management strategy for succeeding in these organizations is to build temporary alignment on specific issues between groups and individuals that often have different longer-term goals (e.g. research vs. patient care vs. teaching vs. publishing vs. funding).