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What is SIMA®?


The System for Identifying Motivated Abilities® (SIMA®) is a proprietary, non-psychological, qualitative process for clearly identifying a person’s innate giftedness—their motivated strengths, interests, contextual circumstances, preferred roles, and motivational drives.

Using SIMA®, we can demonstrate that every person has been endowed with a uniquely motivated and purposeful behavioral pattern. When people live and work in accordance with their pattern, they experience remarkably productive and meaningful lives.

The SIMA® process involves an in-depth interview in which a candidate tells us about activities they have done in life that they enjoyed doing and did well, beginning in childhood all the way to the present. We then analyze those stories to discover the unique motivational pattern of the person. We call that a Motivated Abilities Pattern (MAP®).

The Motivated Abilities Pattern (MAP®)

Each one of us has a pervasive nature; a pattern of strengths; a distinct structure of personality; a unique way of being that remains consistent.  We use SIMA to describe this pervasive nature.  We call it a Motivated Abilities Pattern® (MAP®.)

The more you understand a candidate’s pattern of motivation the more you can effectively predict how the candidate will perform in the future, and target those situations, environments, and relationships that provide a “good job fit” for that person.

A Motivated Abilities Pattern (MAP®) identifies five aspects of a person’s functioning:

  • the motivated abilities the person naturally and instinctively uses to accomplish anything that matters to him/her.
  • the subject matter that s/he most naturally works on, with, or through.
  • the circumstances or environmental conditions in which s/he thrives.
  • the roles and relationships s/he prefers to have relative to others.
  • the central motivational thrust or “payoff” that drives the person’s behavior.

A MAP® is very predictive in terms of career success and satisfaction.

We have used MAPs® for more than 50 years and with thousands of organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, to make strategic hires, improve organizational effectiveness, assemble and align teams, diagnose performance issues, develop up-and-coming leaders, and think through succession planning.

Based on that experience and research, we have found that a person’s MAP® is:

Enduring. The pattern emerges early in life and remains constant throughout life.

Irresistible. Regardless of environment or circumstance, a person’s pattern will express itself. If one’s work does not permit its expression, the person will seek to fulfill their pattern outside of work. Even if a job does not fully accommodate one’s pattern, the person will nonetheless attempt to perform the job in accordance with their MAP®. For example, an innovator will try to innovate. A detail-oriented person will continue to focus on details. A person who seeks recognition will concentrate on what gets attention from others.

Insatiable. People never satisfy or exhaust their motivation in an ultimate, final way, regardless of how often they have a chance to express it.

Explanatory. Once you understand the pattern of a person, you are able to account for why they perform as they do: what they find satisfying or frustrating; how they learn; how they make decisions; in what roles they will make their most successful contributions; who they need around them to be effective; how long they will stay motivated in a given assignment or job; even where they are vulnerable to failure.