The Research and Experience Behind our Work

Rigorous theory and the skinned knees of real-life experience

Allison Group’s offerings are based primarily on the research and practical business experience of its founder, Mary Ann Allison, MBA, PhD.

Allison Group grew out of larger-than-expected and confusing success.

Mary Ann spent the first two decades of her working life leading emerging technology programs at Citibank and Avis Car Rental.

For example, she headed service and operations for Citibank’s Direct Access (consumer banking via personal computer). This team opened the first virtual branch in the world and raised customer satisfaction 25% in 1 year. And, she led the development and implementation of worldwide banking by telephone increasing the percentage of retail financial transactions by phone from less than 1% to over 44% in two years in 16 countries in Asia.

In several cases, customer appetite for digital delivery so far exceeded expectations that Mary Ann got curious about what we human beings were doing to ourselves as we so eagerly immersed ourselves in digital media. To think about this in a disciplined way,
she enrolled in a PhD program at New York University.

About this time, browsers made the Internet accessible and people started heralding virtual community as next step for human beings. As part of her research, Mary Ann asked herself: Is virtual community really community as I understand the word community?

Is a Facebook friend a friend in the traditional sense of the word? This led to a long and fascinating research project. Ten years and a 615-page award-winning dissertation later, she had developed and documented a model of social change that turned out to be useful in the real world. This is the model underlying the Allison Group’s offerings. But Mary Ann is not just a fluffy-headed academic.

Practical experience with customers in the first Allison Group

Although this version of the Allison Group is still quite new, Mary Ann brings the rich practical experience of working both inside of—and as a consultant to—large and small organizations.

Customers of an earlier Allison Group, based in New York City, which provided real-time feedback and leadership training, included:

United States federal Departments of:

  • Homeland Security
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Social Security
  • Treasury
  • Administrative Office of the US Courts

The research supporting the Allison Group’s tools

Our methodology is founded on Dr. Allison’s peer-reviewed, award-winning doctoral dissertation completed at New York University and multiple peer-reviewed papers spanning three decades of research.

Mary Ann uses Media Ecology, Complexity Science, Sociology, Evolutionary Theory, history, future scans, and current observations to document past changes and to create a highly predictive model of the patterns of social change. There have been two major rounds of prediction validation: one documented in the dissertation and the second substantiated by extensive observation ten years later.

She is a professor emerita at Hofstra University where she taught Media Studies for ten years.

Ideas, a murder mystery, and poetry

Mary Ann hasn’t published many of her ideas recently because she was working on the new Allison Group models and tools. She is now posting short pieces on this site. We can let you know when a new one comes out if you are interested.

One of the great joys of Mary Ann’s life was being a New York City poet in residence. Here are some of the books she has published in the past.

The Complexity Advantage

“Anyone who grasps the concepts in The Complexity Advantage will have the power to change a business in startling ways. … These are big ideas.” – The Wall Street Journal

Mary Ann co-authored an early book in the application of complexity theory: The Complexity Advantage: How the Science of Complexity can Help Your Business Achieve Peak Performance (McGraw-Hill).

She has also co-authored a book on middle management (Managing Up; Managing Down [Simon & Schuster}), a textbook (New Media, Communication, and Society {Peter Lang}), and a murder mystery, Through the Valley of Death {Doubleday}.

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