5 Blogs About How Organizations Are Using Anthropology To Change

Anthropology for Business

I always like to look at the blogs and discussions that struck me as most interesting over the past year. As a corporate anthropologist with a book coming out this spring (On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Raise Your Business to New Heights), I was particularly interested in how anthropological methods and tools were working in complex organizations.

They big question for you as you look forward to 2016 is “are you looking at your business through the right lens?”

Here are 5 blogs that I thought you might find of value.

Please enjoy them as I have!

  1. Economists’ Tribal Thinking is one of my favorites. Authored by Gillian Tett and published in The Atlantic (SEP 1, 2015), it digs into the challenges of silo cultures that inhibit people’s abilities to see things as they are, not how they think they are. In this case, she zeroes in on why economists discounted the insights that might have alerted them to the impending doom of the 2008 crash. Very tough to see what is right in front of you. This is as relevant for my business clients, and yours, as it was for those economists.

  2. Corporate Anthropology and the Beta Business, by Victoria Holman in National Association of Realtors this past November, focuses on the ways we are rapidly changing the way companies are managed. Business cultures are having to adapt to the new values, beliefs and behaviors—the cultures—of millenials and to the world in which they are working and living. This new world is more agile, more digitally driven and offers easier and faster ways to get things done without requiring the same command and control (Alpha management) of the past. You can read more in her post or in the book she avidly discusses, The Fall of the Alphas by Dana Ardi, a corporate anthropologist.

  3. Army’s Anthropology Experiment Ends in Defeat by Tobin Harshaw and published in Bloomberg View on July 15, 2015. This is a hard one not to lament over. Well-intentioned and costing over $700 million over 7 years, this grand scheme was designed to embed the sociocultural sciences into the U.S. special operations and other units in Afghanistan so they could have a better understanding of the local culture, which perhaps would lead to better collaboration and cooperation. We know that understanding another person’s culture is very valuable as you interact with him/her, but using that to build better relationships is wishful thinking in a war zone. This is a great piece on the injection of social sciences into real societal situations that is as relevant for culture change in corporations as it is for blending the generational gaps that have emerged.
  4. Twitter Anthropology: Your Data-Mined 2016 Presidential Candidate Portraits. Here is another outstanding post, by Neal Ungerleider and published in Fast Company. Ungerleider conducted a Twitter analysis of the current U.S. presidential candidates to see what he could learn about their fans and followers. Excerpt from his blog: “Looking at the word ‘clouds’ shows potential issues the candidates will have to deal with down the road. Clinton’s word ‘cloud’ has one set of job listings for her followers (‘producer,’ ‘consultant,’ ‘development’), while Jeb Bush’s followers describe their occupation in terms like ‘entrepreneur,’ ‘manager’ and ‘professional.’ Several candidates, such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, have disproportionate numbers of followers who are retired.” Great reading on how we can learn a lot through social media about our culture.
  5. How To Be A Successful CEO: Give Up Your Office. This one is by Andy Simon, my husband and business partner. While not specifically by or about anthropology in the workplace, it is indeed about understanding culture and behavior—those values, beliefs and symbols—that make a business work or not. Well worth a read and share.

To learn more, you might check out our Tools4U page on the Anthropology Tool Kit. They were all designed to be shared with business leaders.

Could Some Anthropology Help You?

At Simon Associates (SAMC), we continually tell our clients that possibilities and opportunities are often right in front of them. Want to talk more about how a little anthropology can help your business grow? Please contact us at your convenience for a free consultation.

Andi Simon

Andi Simon, PhD
Corporate Anthropologist
Author: “On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights”─coming soon
Founder and President, Simon Associates (SAMC)