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An Interview With Andrea Simon, President Of Simon Associates Management Consultants

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Below is our recent interview with Andrea Simon, President of Simon Associates Management Consultants:

Andrea Simon

Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Simon Associates Management Consultants?

A: Established in 2002, Simon Associates Management Consultants offers its clients a wide range of consulting services and innovative resources, with particular focus on the unique tools and methods of anthropology to help businesses successfully drive change.

Q: Andrea, tell us something more about yourself. How did you get to where you are today?

A: I am a corporate anthropologist. Prior to founding SAMC, I was a bank executive for 13 years, helping financial institutions adapt to deregulation. Then I became an executive leader of several healthcare organizations which were responding to managed care and new consumer demands. I built my executive leadership experience from an academic foundation, having been a tenured professor of Anthropology and American Studies at Ramapo College in New Jersey for 10 years. In 2006, I was a visiting professor teaching entrepreneurship to Arts and Science students at Washington University in St. Louis.

These academic appointments provided me with an exceptional base on which to apply a social science perspective to the pressing needs of fast-changing businesses. While I had titles such as Executive Vice President of the Retail Bank, I was always an anthropologist, using the methods of observational research to help me better understand the people working with me and the customers seeking solutions to their problems through the banking system.

Once in business, SAMC picked up clients rather quickly, including Montefiore Medical Center, Atlantic Health System, the paper manufacturer Marcal Paper, Centenary College and Elkay Manufacturing. We have grown successfully ever since, continually helping our clients find the way forward that is often all around them.

My husband, Andrew (Andy) Simon is a serial entrepreneur. In 2017, he sold his last business and joined SAMC to bring his business experience to clients that are trying to shift from early-stage companies to scalable middle-market success stories. He grew his own company, Questar Assessment Inc., from a start-up to the fifth largest in the U.S. summative assessment field, so he knows what he’s talking about.

At SAMC, our job is to help people who are “on the brink”step back from the brink and see things with a fresh lens. Perspective, we tell our clients, adds 80 IQ points. All they need is to know how to listen with an open mind and stop saying, “We don’t do that here.” In business and in life, people would be amazed at how many great opportunities are all around them if only theywould see them.

I write about this in my book, On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights, which won a best Business Book award from Axiom in 2017. Our podcast, On the Brink with Andi Simon, has been ranked among the top 20 consultant podcasts and reaches a global audience.

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Q: Can you give us insights into your services?

A: Few people hire us because they have used anthropologists in their business before. Most realize they need a new way to sustain or restart their growth. We provide an approach in which we show our clients how to pause, reflect on their company’s real “purpose,” and identify the changing needs or unmet needs of customers and non-customers.

The idea is to help them see what they are missing, the important opportunities that are happening all around them. We help them get past their biased brains and “see” opportunities, then capitalize on them so they can better adapt to what’s coming at them, fast.

How do we do that? One simple way is to have CEOs listen in on their customer service phone linesand hear how their service people tell callers, “No, we don’t do that, sorry.” We had one client who did just that, then was able to shift the entire focus of his company, realizing that business was coming to him if only he would pay attention to what people were asking for, not what products he produced.

In another client situation, we took a company’s leaders out to their distributors to listen to their challenges and pain points. Our client was amazed at how many of those challenges could be solved by his products and services, if only he had listened to hisdistributors differently.

Without a doubt, this is an excellent time to bring the theory, methods and tools of anthropology to businesses, industry, healthcare, even non-profits. Why now? The times are changing very rapidly. Few people enjoy change—most truly hate it. But once someone loses a large client to a competitor who offers a better solution, theyquickly realize that more of the same, even cheaper, is hardly an effective strategy for fast-changing times.

To help our clients find and then own uncontested market space, we became trained practitioners in Blue Ocean Strategy® and have completed over 400 workshops on the Blue Ocean methodology. Using its highly effective methods, we have helped dozens of clients, some over several years,find their new strategy and take it into execution.

We are also very engaged in cultural assessments. Culture has become a very big area for organizations seeking to adapt to a new technology, a new workforce, a new customer base, or a new merger or acquisition. We are consultants with a group in the Netherlands that is licensed to use the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (http://www.ocai-online.com). Developed by Drs. Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn at the University of Michigan, the OCAI provides our clients with a well-researched method for capturing the culture of their company today and better understanding what their employees would like it to become in the future.

To help guide organizations through the changes needed to move them forward, we have developed a ChangeMap™ process that shows them how to build a new set of values, beliefs and behaviors.

Our expertise in change management builds on this foundation of a strategic process for change. First, we help our clients better “see, feel and think” about their strategy for growth in fast-changing times. Then, we help them create new solutions to get them there. These processes really work, which I discuss at length in my book using eight case studies.

Additionally, our Inbound Marketing division offers clients the marketing support they need. Andrew and I are certified HubSpot Partners, an inbound marketing platform, and with our HubSpot certified bloggers developing strategic content for digital marketing and our HubSpot partners creating Google-focused websites, we have expanded our services beyond the areas of strategy and change into effective execution.

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Q: What makes SAMC the best choice?

A: Our clients tell us that we help them turn the pain of change into amazing results. One accounting firm we have worked with for several years grew 30% after we helped them change their culture, rebrand themselves, craft a new website, and grow their inbound and digital marketing.

Another client told us recently that her entire organization now just thinks “blue” as they watch their Blue Ocean Strategy come alive.

And a thirdclient sold his business after he repositioned it for growth as an OEM in the battery design and production business as a result of working with us.

Often, new clients tell us that they have a new sales manager but not much is happening. Or their staff doesn’t want to go after new customer segments. Other clients are stalled. Still others with growing revenue streams are watching the trend lines slow and know it is time to reinvigorate the growth of their company.

What we have learned along the way is how difficult it is for people to effectively capture the power and value of the changes taking place around them. Humans typically flee the new, fear the uncertain and appease those who urge them to change. Most people just don’t know how to let go of what they have always done—their old habits—and learn new ways to do things, better.

Seeing these hurdles and resistors as opportunities, SAMC helps leaders and their organizations turn the pain of change into something actually enjoyable. And when people enjoy the new and learn how to change, they can actually have fun. Once they see how they can do new things, they rise to the occasion and take pride in their agility and newfound capabilities.They just need to learn how, which is where we come in. We also help them avoid change fatigue, to understand the timing and pacing of the change process, and to avoid a crisis.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: Today, as SAMC continues to grow, I’m focusing on building the strategic direction of the firm. We have expanded our Blue Ocean Strategy work. Culture change is growing exponentially. And, I am working on my next book. Having brought together a support staff of talented experts in their own right who keep things ticking along, my role is to carry out the majority of the public speaking and workshop engagements while Andrew leads our Inbound Marketing division which is bringing in a steady stream of excellent client prospects.

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