Every transition is about people. Then it’s helpful to know why people do what they do. How they live, love, work and travel. That is exactly what anthropologists are trained to do. We're specialists in understanding people and we research how people make sense of the world and function in groups with other people.
Corporate anthropologists (or applied anthropologists) go beyond doing research and also design interventions and participate in changing the status quo. Our clients are organisations and companies, and they naturally ask for interventions to reach that goal.
Traditionally anthropologists travelled to far away, exotic places. Think of Bronislaw Malinowski and the Trobriand islands, Clifford Geertz in North Africa, Claude Levi-Strauss in the inlands of Brasil, and Franz Boas studying the Inuit in Canada.
Nowadays, more and more anthropologists do wonderful work closer to home and conduct fascinating research in western societies, organizations and companies. Think of Gillian Tett on Wall Street, Joris Luyendijk in the financial sector of London, Simon Sinek, expert and well-known speaker on leadership and culture or Jitske Kramer, expert on diversity and inclusion.
People do things differently than they say they will. That is why participant observation is such a powerful method; the paper reality (surveys answered by people) often differs from the day-to-day reality. Anthropologists read between the lines, hear what’s not being said, see what’s not there. Everything is information.
Culture is shaped in dialogue, and any cooperation people is helped by better conversations, and the free flow of information. Corporate anthropologists make great facilitators since we're trained in making safe space for dialogue, in asking question and not judging the answers. Better conversations enrich any decision making process, resulting in wiser decisions and less conflict in the undercurrent.
Better observations and conversations, almost naturally create a profound understanding of why (groups of) people do what they do. Anthropologists are trained to collect all sorts of information and micro-stories from an insider perspective. The next step is to search and analyse the cultural data and micro-stories for patterns. Seeing the pattern provides a logical explanation and the start of the solution to the problem.
Ultimately, every transition is about mindset, behaviour, habits and unwritten rules. About culture. And about the uncertainties that come with change and being in between a #39;disappearing old' and a 'new that's not yet there'. Anthropologists are experts in helping to guiding the dynamics in this process, and in helping people to re-make sense of the world and their place in it. Culture changes in dialogue.
Every organisation benefits from an anthropologist onboard. Because every transition is about people, and groups of people. How we live, work, travel, and the meaning we attribute to our experiences. This is exactly what anthropologists study.
Corporate anthropology. Clearer observations. Deeper conversations. Profound insights. Better transitions.