Interview with Heidi Grant Halvorson

By Coert Visser (2011)

Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD, is an experimental social psychologist and the author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals. She received her B.A. in psychology, summa cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania, and earned her doctorate at Columbia University, specializing in goal pursuit and motivation. Her research has focused on understanding how people respond to setbacks and challenges, and how these responses are shaped by the kinds of goals they pursue. She has published papers on topics ranging from achievement and self-regulation, to person perception, persuasion, and well-being. She also co-edited (with Gordon Moskowitz) the academic handbook The Psychology of Goals. In this interview, she talks about some of the most fascinating insights on how we can set goals wisely and how we can achieve those goals.

In the book you say something which may surprise many people: ”When you study achievement, one of the first things you learn is that innate ability has surprisingly little to do with success”. Could you explain that? 

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Interview with Claude Steele

By Coert Visser (2010)

Professor Claude Steele is a social psychologist and the Provost of Columbia University. He has written the book Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us about the work he and his colleagues have done on a phenomenon called 'stereotype threat'. Stereotype threat is the tendency to expect, perceive, and be influenced by negative stereotypes about one’s social category, such as one’s age, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, profession, nationality, political affiliation, mental health status, and so on. Stereotype threat can be harmful by creating racial, gender, and social class achievements gaps in schools and in the workplace and tensions across group lines. In this interview Claude Steele explains, among other things, what stereotype threat is and what can be done about it.

How would you explain in simple terms to people like teachers, managers, and policymakers what stereotype threat is and why it is important for them to be informed about it?

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Interview with Wally Gingerich

By Coert Visser (2010)

Wallace Gingerich is Professor Emeritus of Social Work at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. As a core member of the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee (BFTC), Wisconsin, in the 1980s, he has been an important contributor to the development of the solution-focused approach. In this interview, he looks back on how and why he joined BFCT and on how the solution-focused approach emerged in the next few years after he joined. Also, he talks about the BRIEFER project and about a soon to be published review of the research on the effectiveness of the solution-focused approach. Finally, he reflects on the ways the solution-focused approach may further develop.

Could you tell a bit about when and how you got involved with the Brief Family Therapy Center?

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Interview with Alan Kay

By Coert Visser (2010)

Alan Kay, owner of The Glasgow Group, is a Canadian solution-focused change management consultant specializing in areas such as strategic planning, brand and customer experience implementation, stakeholder consultation and client-supplier alignment. Alan’s work is widely influenced by the theory and application of the solution-focused approach to encourage attitudinal and behavioural change within an organization, and to help corporate and individual clients become more strategically focused. 

Hi Alan, When did the potential of the solution-focused approach first hit you?

Interview with Keith Stanovich

By Coert Visser (2009)

Dr. Keith Stanovich, Professor of Human Development and Applied Psychology of the University of Toronto, is a leading expert on the psychology of reading and on rationality. His latest book, What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought, shows that IQ tests are very incomplete measures of cognitive functioning. These tests fail to assess rational thinking styles and skills which are nevertheless crucial to real-world behavior. In this interview with Keith Stanovich he explains the difference between IQ and rationality and why rationality is so important. Also he shares his views on how rationality can be enhanced.

In your book, you say that IQ tests are incomplete measures of cognitive functioning. Could you explain that?

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The Thinktank That Created The Solution-Focused Approach - Interview with Eve Lipchik

By Coert Visser (2009)

Eve Lipchik was one of the original core members of the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee, which created solution-focused therapy in the beginning of the l980's. She worked at the BFTC until l988, when she cofounded ICF Consultants. She is the author of the book Beyond Techniques in Solution-Focused Therapy: Working with Emotions and the Therapeutic Relationship and numerous chapters and articles. In this interview she looks back on the time the solution-focused approach was developed and she shares her memories of the process of developing the approach and of the people involved. She tells about the essential shift the team made from gathering information about the problem to focusing on constructing solutions with clients. Also, she reflects on recent developments and she explains the importance of describing the approach as encompassing both philosophy and techniques. Finally, she tells about some of her current interests and activities.

Coert: Could you tell me about some of your memories of the early times of the Brief Family Therapy Center? How did you get involved with that and how did you experience that starting period?

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The Organization as a Prototype

Interview with Jeffrey Pfeffer

© 2006, Coert Visser

Jeffrey Pfeffer is Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business and (co-)author of many well-known management books, like Competitive Advantage Through People (1996), The Human Equation (1998), The Knowing-Doing Gap (2000), Hidden Value (2000) and Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense (2006). Some recurring themes in his work are the strong links between the way people are treated and organizational success, the importance of aligning values, strategy and management practices and the importance of bridging the knowing doing gap. interviews him about his new book.

Coert: Let's start off with a question about your latest book, 'Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management', which you wrote together with Robert Sutton. In this book you make a strong plea for evidence based management. You debunk some popular management practises and you offer a list of facts about what works and what doesn't in management. The book came out a few months ago. How was it received?

Interview with Carol Dweck

The Growth Mindset
© 2006, Coert Visser  (

Carol Dweck is a professor of Psychology at Stanford University. She is a leading expert in the field of human motivation and intelligence and through the years she has developed an extensive body of theory and research. This year, she has published a remarkable book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The book is a true gem, not only because of the clarity of the writing and structure but also, and foremost, because of its important and useful message. This message is that the way you view your own intelligence largely determines how it will develop. In this interview I ask Carol Dweck about the book and about what the practical implications of her work are for managers.

I’d like to start off with a question about the intriguing title of your new book ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’. Can you explain what the importance of mindset is for success?

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Interview with William Ury

'No' seems to be the hardest word
© 2007, Coert Visser

Positive thinking is hot. There seems to be an abundance of positive change approaches, for example solution-focused practice, appreciative inquiry, positive psychology, strength-based management, and positive deviance. Does this emphasis on the positive mean that we have agree and go along with everything that we meet on our path? No, says negotiation expert William Ury, co-author of the well-known book Getting to YES and Director of the Global Negotiation Project, part of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. William Ury is convinced that the skill of saying No is indispensable. However, according to him, saying No does not imply that you can no longer be constructive, respectful and positive. He explains this in his new book, The Power of a Positive NO. Here is an interview with him about the book.

First, I'd like to ask you about the importance of being able to say No. On page 5 of your book you say: "Whether and how we say No determines the very quality of our lives. It is perhaps the most important word for us to learn to say gracefully and effectively." What makes saying No indispensible?

Interview with David Maister (part 2)

The Only Competitive Advantage in Professional Services

© 2006, David Maister/Coert Visser

This is the second part of the interview with management writer and advisor David Maister. In the first part (here) we talked about the fascinating phenomenon of blogging on which David shared some thought-provoking insights. In this part, we talk about subjects David has written about throughout his writing career, including marketing, strategy, management, career development and money.

Let’s proceed with a question about marketing. Many professionals don't seem to pay much attention to marketing. But you say marketing is of crucial importance for any professional. Why is that so?

Interview with David Maister (part 1)

The Art of Blogging

© 2006, David Maister/Coert Visser

David Maister has enjoyed great success as a management author. I have been following his work almost since I started working as a consultant. He has been writing influential articles and books since then. Several years ago I interviewed him for the first time on this site (here). After a few years of relative quiet he is now fully back in business with a splendid blog, new articles, videos and podcasts. Something must be going right with David Maister. Let’s find out what.

David, how come you’re so productive now?

Interview with Alasdair Macdonald

© 2005, Coert Visser
Alasdair Mcdonald is a Consultant Psychiatrist who is the Research Coordinator and former President and Secretary of the European Brief Therapy Association. He works  as a trainer and supervisor and as a management consultant.

Alasdair, we'd first like to ask you a few questions about your current research. Could you describe it briefly?

Interview with Insoo Kim Berg

© 2004, Coert Visser

Amsterdam, May 12, 2004 - There is probably not a single person more important to the invention and development of the solution-focused practice than Insoo Kim Berg. This fragile American lady from Korean origin has a gigantic reputation. She is one of the most important inspirators of nearly all of the solution-focused consultants I know. Together with her partner Steve De Shazer, she developed solution-focused brief therapy. Currently, she often travels the world doing consultancy and training people. Last year, she did a workshop in our Dutch training program for consultants and coaches. This year, I met her in an Amsterdam hotel and we had this conversation by the fireplace.

You are an important inspiration to many. Who are your main inspirators?

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Interview with David Maister

© 2003, Coert Visser

David Maister is one of the leading writers on management today. Many managers and consultants love his books, which include titles like True Professionalism, The Trusted Advisor, First among Equals, and Practice what you Preach. What makes these books so popular with managers and professionals must be that they are full of practical advice. On top of that, they are written in a pleasant and easy style. We were surprised to find out that writing was once an activity David hated.

You are now one of the most popular and best-known management authors. But what got you started writing books?