What I Learned About Corporate Anthropology While Writing My Book

What I Learned Writing “On the Brink”

Writing a book is no easy task.Pre-order “On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights”On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take your Business to New Heights is a collection of stories, insights and actionable tools gathered from decades of work at Simon Associates Management Consultants 

At times it was heavy lifting! However the purpose was so compelling that I kept pushing through. I’m very excited to have many of the key learnings in one place and thrilled to say
that it is now available. You can reserve your copy and pre-order it now.


Writing a book isn’t just about packaging knowledge to distribute

It’s just as much about looking inward. Putting together this book on corporate anthropology caused me to focus a fresh lens on my own process and to come out with a clear-eyed view of what I’ve learned helping companies go through the pain of change.

Some Observations to Share

  1. The Value of a Fresh Perspective: The work we’ve done with companies that needed a fresh perspective to sustain their growth became the framework of this book. The common denominator was the challenge that CEOs face when confronted with changing business environments. The fact is, businesses stall sometimes—it doesn’t matter if it’s a Fortune 500 company, a college trying to reinvent itself or a start-up. Times change, and a little anthropology can help any business better see the possibilities right in front of them. I often use this terrific quote by John Seely Brown (Chief of Confusion, USC visiting scholar and the independent co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge): “The way forward is often all around you.”
  1. Listening to Others Works, If You Can Hear Them: Anthropological methods make it easier for CEOs, business leaders and their staffs to realize that the best ideas for the future of their business are there, if only they would listen. As I wrote this book and listened to my editors’ comments, client reviews and edits, my publicist’s recommendations and even my husband and family’s advice, I began to really realize that when I tell my clients they have to listen with an open mind, so did I. As my publisher and editors kept revising the stories and clarifying the concepts, I learned a great deal about what I wanted to say and how to communicate it. There were acres of diamonds in the book. I (like my clients) just had to see them with fresh eyes and listen with an open mind.
  1. Innovation Needs Nurturing: The real challenge for any leader is to create a place where ideas can come together and then turn those ideas into innovations. One way to create this place is to encourage bosses to step outside their daily routines, get out of their offices, and observe how unspoken behavior and habits offer big ideas that could engender even bigger corporate success. That’s what this book is all about: actionable tools and simple tips to help businesses that want to take the initiative and nurture innovation.
  1. Observation Into Innovation: The branding expert working with me on the book was quite amazing. She came up with the tagline that captured the essence of what it was all about: Observation into Innovation. That’s what we do at SAMC—step outside a culture or company or organization and observe. Then we convert those observations into insights that lead to new solutions and breakthrough innovations. To accomplish this, you’ve got to be able to observe with a wide open mind. All too often we approach a project—even this book—with the realization that we are going to “goof” at times, take detours, reverse direction, and hopefully arrive at the goal through a sometimes uncertain, circuitous route. So what! It is the way life moves us forward. Not exactly a Google map but a life map with twists and turns.

New ideas emerged as the team of editors worked with me to tell the stories  

People collaborating on any project come to it with a wide range of different perspectives—duh!! As I listened, and new ideas became possibilities, I could see how this team of talent brought different thoughts to this book.

Yes, even you can be an anthropologist!

There are those who say only trained anthropologists should use anthropological methods, but I’m not one of them. This book is about making these methods and tools readily available to business people so they can help anyone see, feel and think better and convert those observations into meaningful business innovations.

Want to learn more about how a little anthropology could help you adapt to changing times, innovate and grow? Two recommendations:

  1. Learn how to see the world in new ways: Pick up your copy of On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take your Business to New Heights
  2. Read our blog on Ten Anthropology Tools You Can Use In Your Business.

And of course, please let us know what you think. How have you been able to see possibilities that were right in front of you?

Contact me to know more

To talk about your ideas or learn how Simon Associates Management Consultants might help you adapt to these changing times, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Observation into Innovation,



Andrea J. Simon, PhD
Corporate Anthropologist | President
Simon Associates Management Consultants