Max Choi and Quest Partnership
Managing Director | Chartered Psychologist
Welcomes you to our website.
You will get a feel about what I do from the rest of our pages, however, as I am a psychologist it might be more interesting to first convey a bit about why I do what I do.
In terms of defining moments –
Many years ago I had to deal with some extremely challenging news that turned everything on its head and you ask yourself ‘Why this has to happen to us? – What have we done to deserve it?’
Over the years I have learnt to accept and embrace the situation and to take a contrarian perspective – and to prove experts wrong about what is possible when you believe in what can be achieved.
Even today we are still relishing our challenging journey! It really has shaped me, defined me, and perhaps explains many of my interests and values.
= the strive for continuous improvement and breakthrough solutions; but not to force things – there is a need to pace and understand others’ perspectives.
= it’s more fun and productive to do things with others who are very different to you.
Quest Partnership Ltd was formed in 1996. Some time earlier, I was working at Nuclear Electric and it was about 1am on a Monday morning and we were still working hard on a deadline for the candidate selection for the British Steel Challenge – ‘The World’s Toughest Boat Race’. We focused more on teamworking skills rather than sailing skills – as the participants would need to put up with each other for about 6 months on a boat – so if you don’t get on, it is a bit difficult to avoid each other! The work paid off as Nuclear Electric’s team of previously in-experienced sailors won this prestigious Round the World the ‘Wrong’ Way (i.e. against prevailing winds and currents) yacht race! After that one of my colleagues clearly told me that my efforts should be channelled into running my own business.
The Quest Logo
What’s in our logo? Look carefully and you will see the Q for Quest; the P for Partnership; the Ψ for psychology; and finally it resembles the Chinese character 中, which means ‘centre’ or can be interpreted as aiming for the holistic life goal of equilibrium, harmony and balance!
Item Response Theory
In the late 1980’s I worked on automated testing applying item response theory (IRT) for pilot selection. People still think that automated testing and IRT is new ground breaking stuff!
Talent Development Programmes
In the early 1990’s I worked with an Associate to develop new style development centres which were later known as Talent Programmes.
Situational Judgement Tests
In the late 1990’s Alan Howard and I developed the first commercial Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) – the Management Scenarios Test, the Executive Scenarios Test, and the Graduate Scenarios Test. To us, it was an obvious thing to do – as people had been using verbal and numerical reasoning for many decades to select for management skills. Sure, these tests are useful but high scores do not necessarily mean they are great managers! We have applied similar breakthrough thinking and methodology to develop other tests and assessments.
Global Management Scenarios Test
More recently, despite others telling us that it was not possible, we developed a version of the Management Scenarios Test to work very effectively around the world. We achieved this by understanding all the leadership research and analysing much of the global data we had collected. We had 120,000 leaders from 40 countries that had completed either our Management Scenarios Test or the Executive Scenarios Test. We went on to prove that performance on these SJTs predicts the country’s GDP i.e. the first hard evidence that the level of management and leadership skills is directly related to a country’s performance!
Assessment Centre Standard
In 2013 I raised an issue with our professional body, the British Psychological Society around the fact that although many organisations are now seeing the potential value of assessment centres, there is a real issue as many are being run very poorly and we need to do something in order to protect the public. I worked with a team of occupational psychologists to produce the Assessment Centre Standard. This was published in 2015 and is freely available from the BPS website.
Mosaic - Occupational Personality Tasks
Currently, we are working on the issue that, as personality questionnaires are self-reporting, then they may not always be accurate. Sure, they are useful tools to gauge personality but there will be times when you really do need a more accurate and impartial measure of personality. An alternative is to assess personality and behaviour directly. Therefore, we are currently researching and developing our Mosaic Personality Tasks. Indeed, both methods can be very valuable i.e. the personality questionnaire informs us what the person thinks they are like, and the OPT informs us of what they are really like. The difference will therefore identify any interesting gaps or blind spots.
The above list appears innovative – but I am probably not any more creative than most. I make the effort to understand things, to research, and transfer the learning over to a new application – and of course, to partner up with talented people. This of course includes the Quest Partnership and Quest Assessments teams.
Aims of Quest Partnership Ltd
I am a Consultant Business Psychologist (BPS Chartered) and Quest Partnership Ltd is an Occupational Psychology company. To me that means that we ought to be supporting organisations to apply business psychology interventions to help them achieve their organisational objectives. The operative word is ‘support’, and to understand how much support clients would like. In some cases they want us to deliver the work for them, in other cases our role is to get them up to speed so they can be more independent. We also provide psychometrics. So how are we different to the test publishers? Psychometrics are just tools. When you have a job to do, you need to understand the tools that you have at your disposal and to decide which tool might be the most appropriate. We are in the right position to help our clients with this requirement. A test publisher will just focus on their own tools and will always tell you that their’s is the best. At Quest Partnership, we produce our own psychometrics but we also provide a comprehensive range of other quality psychometrics and will therefore help you identify the tool or tools that best meets your specific needs.
Aims of Quest Assessments Ltd
Quest Assessments Ltd is the sister company that primarily focuses on psychometrics research and development activities. Quest Partnership Ltd also gets involved in R&D but often there are more urgent client priorities. This is a main reason we have Quest Assessments – so that we can conduct R&D properly without other priorities getting in the way. The current project is the Mosaic Objective Personality Tasks.
Interests outside Work
In my spare time, the theme is still somewhat around behaviours, and extraordinary performance – so I am fascinated by magic. For a start, my curious mind makes me want to work out for myself how the magic is done when I see it. Magic is so creative in applying real principles to make the impossible appear possible! To me it links well with our challenges and in a sense we have done that already in several areas. For example, with the Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs). In my mind, we did not really invent SJTs. Just like how magic works, we just applied evidence-based knowledge and transferred our learning to reveal a new ‘magic solution’ – the SJT.
Likewise, talking of exceptional skills and talent, although I have many psychologists I admire, my number one hero is Bruce Lee, who was an outstanding martial artist and philosopher. As I am Chinese, at school I mastered several martial arts as people expected me to fit the stereotype – well it was the 1970’s! I had already represented England in Judo, so I found I had a natural flair for this. Recently I have made a couple of conference evenings a bit more energetic and entertaining by coaching delegates to handle martial arts weapons – and drawing insights into Bruce Lee’s meaning of “Be water my friend”!
To summarise, I do what I do because I believe in the human spirit – I believe in people – and like magic, nothing is impossible – if you put your heart and focused effort into it. Getting the best from people is about understanding people and working positively with them. At a technical level I am very interested in this and that is why I like the areas of psychometrics and leadership – because it is all about understanding behaviour and people – and applying this to achieve great results.
So here is a tip, the next time you are at a party, don’t ask “What do you do?” Ask: “Why do you do what you do?” You are likely to have a more interesting conversation.