AMI Consultancy Blog



We're All Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, presents examples of cognitive illusions that help illustrate why humans make predictably irrational decisions.

The Power of Positive Feedback by Barry Gruenberg

Most high level executives do not expect a lot of recognition from others. Nor do they give a lot of recognition to others. Many managers are like the guy who, when his wife complains that he doesn’t tell her he loves her any more, responds that he told her he loved her when he married her — and he would have let her know if anything had changed.
Similarly, most managers act as if the act of hiring an employee is recognition enough — and they would have let them know if anything changed.


Innovation Can Require Changing Rituals by Jeffrey Phillips

Far too often, we in the innovation space are interested in creating a really interesting new product, rather than thinking about the product in the context of its use or experience. It was during a car trip with some new friends at Pure Insight when we were talking about daily rituals that I realized what a powerful “lens” rituals could be for focusing on new innovation opportunities.
We happened to be talking about shaving – in this case, the drudgery of waking up every day to scrape the bristles from our faces (our correspondents happened to be men. I’ll assume women think the same way about shaving their legs, etc). While we complained about the task, the discomfort, the risk of cuts and so forth, we also came to the realization that each of us has a specific ritual about the way they approach shaving, and for the most part that ritual is the same no matter where they shave, or when they shave. The same steps, the same thinking applies, and to break that ritual seems almost like breaking a sacred vow.


Karl Weick On Why "Am I a Success or a Failure?" Is The Wrong Question

Found on the blog of Bob Sutton. For those who want to learn today and tomorrow.

I've written about The University of Michigan's Karl Weick here several times before, for example here and here, as he is one of the most creative and thoughtful people I know.  He, more so than anyone know, looks at the same things as everyone else, but sees something different.  I was just reading a paper that he wrote on renewal this morning and came across this stunning set of sentences:
Roethlisberger argues that people who are preoccupied with success ask the wrong question. They ask, “what is the secret of success” when they should be asking, “what prevents me from learning here and now?” To be overly preoccupied with the future is to be inattentive toward the present where learning and growth take place. To walk around asking, “am I a success or a failure” is a silly question in the sense that the closest you can come to answer is to say, everyone is both a success and a failure.
As usual, Weick sees things another way, and teaches us something.  One of the implications of this statement is that the most constructive ways to go through life is to keep focusing on what you learn and how you can get better in the future, rather than fretting or gloating over what you've done in the past (and seeing yourself as serving a life sentence as a winner or loser).  Some twists of Weick's simple ideas are explored in Carol Dweck's compelling research in in Mindset.
P.S. The source for this quote is Weick, Karl E. How Projects Lose Meaning: "The Dynamics of Renewal." in Renewing Research Practice by R. Stablein and P. Frost (Eds.). Stanford, CA: Stanford. 2004.

Source of this blogpost:

Leadership and Change by Mike Myatt

First the bad news: If you’re not willing to embrace change you’re not ready to lead. Put simply, leadership is not a static endeavor. In fact, leadership demands fluidity, which requires the willingness to recognize the need for change, and finally the ability to lead change.
Now the good news: As much as some people want to create complexity around the topic of leading change for personal gain, the reality is that creating, managing and leading change is really quite simple. To prove my point, I’ll not only explain the entire change life-cycle in three short paragraphs, but I’ll do it in simple terms that anyone can understand. As a bonus I’ll also give you 10 items to assess in evaluating whether the change you’re considering is value added, or just change for the sake of change.
An Overview on the Importance of Change:
While there is little debate that the successful implementation of change can create an extreme competitive advantage, it is not well understood that the lack of doing so can send a company (or an individual’s career) into a death spiral. Companies that seek out and embrace change are healthy, growing, and dynamic organizations, while companies that fear change are stagnant entities on their way to a slow and painful death.
Agility, innovation, disruption, fluidity, decisiveness, commitment, and above all else a bias toward action will lead to the creation of change. It is the implementation of change which results in evolving, growing and thriving companies. Much has been written about the importance of change, but there is very little information in circulation about how to actually create it.
While most executives and entrepreneurs have come to accept the concept of change management as a legitimate business practice, and change leadership as a legitimate executive priority in theory, I have found very few organizations that have effectively integrated change as a core discipline and focus area in reality. As promised, and without further ado, the change life-cycle in three easy steps:

Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything by Tony Schwartz

I've been playing tennis for nearly five decades. I love the game and I hit the ball well, but I'm far from the player I wish I were.
I've been thinking about this a lot the past couple of weeks, because I've taken the opportunity, for the first time in many years, to play tennis nearly every day. My game has gotten progressively stronger. I've had a number of rapturous moments during which I've played like the player I long to be.
And almost certainly could be, even though I'm 58 years old. Until recently, I never believed that was possible. For most of my adult life, I've accepted the incredibly durable myth that some people are born with special talents and gifts, and that the potential to truly excel in any given pursuit is largely determined by our genetic inheritance.

The Surest Way to Destroy an Innovation Initiative by Chris Trimble

There are three, and only three, models for organizing innovation that work.
The first is the "turn the masses loose" model, also known as the "innovation is everyone's job, every day" model. It works, to a point. With proper motivation, you can get a huge number of small projects done. But the limitation to this approach is significant and easy to see: People are busy. They have day jobs, and once their day-to-day responsibilities are complete, there's little left — time, energy, motivation — for innovation. You may get 5% of Larry's time plus 5% of Mary's time and so on, but slivers of free time are difficult to aggregate beyond a few people, and make it hard to get anything substantial done.


Seth Godin on entrepreneurship and standing out


Define Your Personal Brand With Simple Questions by Ron Ashkenas

Though I've been writing for The Conversation for several months, this is the first post in my own, "personally branded" blog — so readers who want to know what I'm thinking can access my thoughts more directly. But why someone would want to do that? (I'm guessing it's probably not because of the picture.)

Regardless of whether you also actively contribute content online, I believe this is a question that everyone should periodically address about themselves. We are all the chief branding officers of our own personal brands. We have the power to determine and control our own reputation, whether through our actions at the workplace or through what we decide to Tweet. We are able to create our own sense of distinctiveness, trust and confidence. In every environment, from the workplace to the Web, people make choices that affect their personal brand — whether it is who to work with (and who to avoid), who to follow, who to "friend", or what special message to share in 140 characters.

How you manage your personal brand in any of these mediums will determine how others view you — and ultimately shape your career and your life.

To crystallize your personal brand, ask yourself what you want to be known for — what differentiates you from everyone else who might have a similar background or set of experiences? In other words, what skills, abilities, knowledge and attitudes do you have (or are developing) that will make people want to work with, follow or "friend" you — online or off? What value can you create for others as a friend, blogger, colleague, teammate, boss or subordinate? And what will make you satisfied and fulfilled that you are indeed making a contribution?

These are tough questions, and admittedly, I have trouble answering them myself. But let me give it a shot: First, my "brand" of leadership insight is practical, straightforward and simple — no complex theories or frameworks. In fact, much of my work is about taking complexity out of your company: I call this "simplicity-minded management." Second, the style of my brand is direct, challenging, and hopefully thought-provoking — with ideas that are based on thirty years of consulting with some of the smartest (and toughest) managers in the world, from GE, Cisco, the World Bank, public sector organizations, hospitals, start-ups and everything in between. So that's an overview of my personal brand. What's yours? What do you want to be known for? What sets you apart?



11 Signs You're A Bad Boss: From AMEX OPEN Forum


Thanks to Guy Kawasaki and Matthew May, two posts have recently appeared at the American Express blog for small business, OPEN Forum.  Matt describes these as "yin and yang" posts because the first, by him, was a review and discussion called "How to be a Good Boss" (that cool sign above kicks off his post).  That was followed with an opposing post that I wrote (with a lot of guidance, coaching, and editing from Guy -- he  amazes me with his ability to frame things and use language so that ideas are sound, fun, and sticky) on "The Top 11 Signs that You're a Bad Boss."  Here is a reprint of that post for readers of Work Matters:
The most crucial test of a boss is self-awareness. The best bosses are in tune with how the little things they say and do impact people, and they are adept at adjusting to bolster both performance and dignity. Several studies, including one by the College Board, suggest that the more incompetent a boss is, the more out of touch he or she is likely to be. 


What's your bottom line?

The story of two companies that are changing the world and working for profit at the same time. A short documentary about social enterprise and marketing to the bottom of the pyramid.

The Double Bottom Line from Alex Godin on Vimeo.


Why teams don't work

This is an article I found on the Harvard Business website. In my opinion interesting because it completely follows our own conclusions on team effectiveness in our Karacter approach. Investing in a performance team is a very important decision that should not be taken lighly. What do you think?

'The belief that teams make us more creative and productive - and are the best way to get things done - is deeply entrenched. But Hackman, a professor of organizational psychology at Harvard and a leading expert on teams, is having none of it. Research, he says, consistently shows that teams underperform despite all their extra resources.


Measuring Success by Mike Myatt

Measuring Success

Over the years I’ve come to believe that there is only one sure fire litmus test for measuring leadership success, and to the chagrin of many reading this post, it has little to do with what happens on the job. Today’s post might push a few buttons and test the boundaries of your comfort zone, but if you stick with me, I promise you’ll be glad you did. I’m going to peel back the layers on your personal brand, question your priorities, and quite possibly put a big dent in your carefully crafted professional facade. We’re going to get very personal today – How’s your family life?

If the opening paragraph caused you to wince, then the text that follows is written just for you. If the next sentence seems a little preachy, it’s meant to be. The true test of any leader is not measured by what’s accomplished in their professional life, but rather by what’s accomplished at home. If you’re a well oiled machine at work, but your family is falling apart at the seams – who cares? Let me be blunt – you won’t earn anyone’s respect, at least not the respect of anyone who matters, if your concern for career success overshadows your concern for the well-being of your family.

My advice is simple:
Create a legacy that transcends your career. Having the advantage of the hindsight my gray hair affords me, I can say with great certainty that who you are as a person is infinitely more important than the title you hold at work. There are few things in life as thought provoking as witnessing what by all outward appearances seems to be a successful executive, but as you begin to peel back the layers of their carefully crafted veneer, you quickly come to realize that they are little more than an empty, bitter, and frustrated person. They work their entire career chasing some illusive form of fulfillment only to fade into the sunset with nothing more than an empty lifetime of regrets as their reward.
I’ve simply lived too long to buy into the myth that success in the workplace will create happiness at home. While it makes for a nice sound bite to console those with a guilty conscience, IT IS A LIE. If your business is growing, but your spouse is crying and your children are neglected, it’s time to do a reality check on your priorities. If your secretary respects you, but your spouse doesn’t you have serious issues that need your immediate attention. If you would rather spend time with your online “friends” than with your children, it’s time to pull the ripcord on your internet connection.
Here’s the cold hard truth…if you cheat your family to invest into your career, you and your loved ones will pay a very heavy price. It is simply wrong to value your workplace commitments over your family commitments – moreover it’s not necessary. If your focus is on your family, your career won’t suffer, it will flourish. Get this wrong and not only will your family suffer, but so will you as you someday mourn the loss of what could have been, but cannot be recovered.
If you really want to get to know me, don’t waste time reading my bio or scrutinizing my professional successes and failures, get to know my wife and my children. My best work, the work that I’m most proud of, is the relationship I have with the love of my life whom I’ve been married to for almost three decades, and with my two grown children who now consistently teach me more about life than I taught them. While I’ve had more career success than I probably deserve, I’m just as flawed as anyone reading this post. What I can tell you is that I’ve always made my family a priority. I don’t regret a single second of time I’ve invested in my family, but I’ve lost track of all the regrets I have over time squandered on the job.
You see, everyone creates a legacy – the question is will it be one worth leaving? While a legacy is classically defined as something of significant and/or lasting value that survives its creator, the best legacy is one that can be lived before it is left behind.

The bottom line is this:
If you’re a superstar at work, but a slacker at home you’re not succeeding at anything other than being a disingenuous, ego-centric charlatan. If this describes you, you’re not a leader you are a poser. As a very wise person once said, “don’t waste your time investing in those who won’t be crying at your funeral.”



Keep your goals for yourself by Derek Sivers

After hitting on a brilliant new life plan, our first instinct is to tell someone, but Derek Sivers says it's better to keep goals secret. He presents research stretching as far back as the 1920s to show why people who talk about their ambitions may be less likely to achieve them.


Rediscovering the why of work

Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey advocates for creating organizations that value teamwork, transparency and trust. (Darden Business School/Darden Business School)


Managing Yourself: The Boss as Human Shield by Robert I. Sutton

Good leaders protect their employees from lengthy meetings, meddlesome superiors, and a host of other roadblocks to doing real work.
William Coyne headed research and development at 3M—the company behind Ace bandages, Post-it notes, Scotch tape, and other inventions—for over a decade. Shortly after retiring, Coyne spoke to a group of hundreds of executives about innovation at 3M and his own management style. He said he’d started at 3M as a researcher and learned firsthand how well-meaning but nosy executives who proffer too many questions and suggestions can undermine creative work. So when he became head of R&D, he was determined to allow his teams to work for long stretches, unfettered by intrusions from higher-ups. Coyne understood his colleagues’ curiosity; if successful, an R&D project could generate millions in new revenue. But he limited their interference (and his own) because, he said, “After you plant a seed in the ground, you don’t dig it up every week to see how it is doing.”

Coyne knew that the performance of his employees—as well as his career and the company’s success—depended on shielding them from threats. This notion that management “buffers” the core work of the company from uncertainty and external perturbations is an old theme in organizational theory, going back at least to James D. Thompson’s 1967 classic Organizations in Action. The best bosses are committed to letting their workers work—whether on creative tasks such as inventing new products or on routine things such as assembling computers, making McDonald’s burgers, or flying planes. They take pride in being human shields, absorbing or deflecting heat from inside and outside the company, doing all manner of boring and silly tasks, and battling idiots and slights that make life harder than necessary on their people.
Sidebar Icon Protecting Your People Isn’t Always Practical
As a boss, you can protect your people’s backs in seven ways.