Learn More About SIMA

Historical Roots of SIMA®

In the late 1950’s, Arthur Miller Jr. was working with Bernard Haldane — now commonly known as a pioneer in career counseling. Haldane had noted that individuals exhibit a recurring pattern of strengths in their stories of enjoyable activities. Fascinated with this phenomenon, Miller began to look more closely at the autobiographical narrative and discovered that in fact it expressed not only recurring strengths but also a whole pattern of motivated behavior.

Miller discovered a way to methodically “mine” the achievement data of his clients through a process titled SIMA® (System for Identifying Motivated Abilities®). He called the unique structure of behavior revealed by SIMA a “Motivational Pattern,” and discovered that beneath a person’s natural strengths, there is an underlying drive that explains “why” they want to exercise those strengths and how their strengths are integrated. Revealing this underlying drive is what powers all variations of SIMA’s tools and assessments.

Contemporaries and contributors to Art Miller’s work and world include:

  • Richard Bowles, author of What Color is Your Parachute
  • Marshall Goldsmith, leadership coach, consultant, and author
  • Ralph Mattson, former business partner, author, and consultant
  • Art’s sons Kim and Art III and his grandson Professor Joshua Miller

All family members are still deeply involved in SIMA-related work, including Art’s wife, Nancy, who is also a prolific and published poet.

What is SIMA®?

SIMA®, the System for Identifying Motivated Abilities®, is a narrative-based, ‘non-psychometric’ way of helping people understand their innate motivational patterns by revisiting their personal stories of achievement — stories about activities and times in their lives where they have felt great joy, success, and satisfaction.

What is the Approach Based Upon?

  • Phenomenological – we work with lived experience and individuals accessing their own experience and describing it. Their language is the clue to the deep patterns in their lives.
  • Narrative Approach – it is based upon people sharing their achievement experiences and telling their story. Each person has a unique story to tell, and we believe that individuals partly shape their identities through the stories they tell. We help people frame their experience, both affirming their own ways of working and helping them to reframe their ways of working using our taxonomy of motivational terms.
  • Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Psychology – we look to find the areas where people work well and have been ‘in the flow’, then identify and build on their motivated gifts and help them to find and work with their own resources.
  • Solution-focused – we help people recognize the depth of their resources and bring them to bear on their current circumstances. We help people look beyond their existing constraints to create positive outcomes and possibilities.

How is SIMA® Utilized?

At its height, 22 licensed consultancies across the U.S. and in England, Sydney, and Amsterdam, utilized SIMA’s various tools, bringing insights to the work of Human Flourishing in industries like Executive Search, Succession, Leadership Coaching, and Organizational Development. 

Over the last 60+ years, more than one million stories have been analyzed and patterned for hundreds of thousands of individuals seeking career growth and personal and professional development. SIMA’s Consultants and Practitioners have worked with notable companies such as NASA, Disney, Merck, IBM, Aetna, and Medtronic.

SIMA has also served more than 600 non-profit organizations, including World Vision, Salvation Army, Compassion International, and World Relief.