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On the Brink

On the Brink

What is Corporate Anthropology and Why Should I Try It?

On Jan 16, 2018 8:00:00 AM

/ Andrea Simon

, Culture Change, Corporate Anthropology, Corporate Culture


Now that “On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights,” my award-winning book on how corporate anthropology can help businesses grow, is being read by CEOS, business leaders, entrepreneurs and even anthropology students, I'm frequently being asked, "What is this thing called 'anthropology' or 'business anthropology' and why should I know about it, much less use it to help grow my business?"

In addition, I cannot tell you how many parents have contacted me about their son or daughter who is in love with business anthropology in college or with just anthropology itself. What kind of jobs are out there for an anthropology major?, they want to know. As an anthropologist myself, what I don't want to tell them is that only a few years ago, Forbes and Kiplinger ranked anthropology as the worst major for finding a job after college. 

Maybe it is time to change that!

There is now a very big role for anthropology and anthropologists in business.

Given the business trends I am seeing as I travel around the country working with clients or leading workshops, I am convinced that now is the time to make anthropology less academic and more easily understood and applicable, particularly in the business world. Indeed, the tools and methods of anthropology are what can help your business or organization sustain growth during these rapidly changing times.

So what is this thing called "Corporate Anthropology?"

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How to Dramatically Transform Your Company Culture

On Jan 11, 2018 10:51:39 AM

/ Andrea Simon

, Andrea Simon, Culture Change, business change

In a recent blog ("4 Great Ways to Become a More Innovative Company"), I wrote about CEO's and other executives who typically have spent much of their leadership time at the head of a successful ship. But when it comes time to adapt to change, they have a hard time keeping their companies afloat when the market winds shift and they need to rethink strategies to change course. Do they just need to add some innovation? Or do they have to change their company culture?

Maybe a little of both. How does that kind of change actually happen?

Let me tell you a story.

At my consulting firm Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), we've been working with a Fortune 500 company whom I'll call “Client X.” The challenge before us is to figure out how to reconcile, on the one hand, a business that has grown to dominate its market by doing things well in one particular way, with on the other hand, changing customers who are demanding new things from their network of retail outlets. 

Additionally, and almost right on cue, new managers from Generation Y are rising in this company's ranks and proposing new, innovative ways of doing things. A big collision is coming. 

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Are You Becoming a More Vulnerable Leader?

On Jan 11, 2018 7:00:00 AM

/ Andrea Simon

, Andrea Simon, Culture Change, business change


Here at SAMC, we are watching a situation in which a business leader is trying to transform an organization that has really been allowed to wallow for a long time. Staff has been coming to work and doing a job but not much has been happening to either inspire or frighten them.

But now, with new leadership and a fast-changing market, they are threatened. While trying to mobilize and motivate his employees, the new CEO is finding that they are throwing up the classic four hurdles of those who know intellectually that they have to change but really don’t know how—or even if they want to.

The four hurdles (and you may have seem them yourself) are: 

  1. The cognitive one where they claim they really don’t know what the leader is talking about.
  2. The motivational excuse where they just really don’t want to put any effort into changing.
  3. The resource resistance where they blame the slow pace of change on not having the resources.
  4. The politico hurdle where they are waiting to see what others are going to do before they risk their own necks embracing the leader’s initiatives. 

The new leadership team is responding with a wonderful mix of business acumen, personal strength and at times, softer concerns. They are showing that they are vulnerable, caring and concerned but also strong and determined to help this organization adapt, or die. Watching this careful dance made us realize that the growing body of research and literature about the success of a vulnerable leader was playing out right before us. 

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Frustrated By 5 Big Must-Do Changes In Your Business?

On Jan 4, 2018 8:00:00 AM

/ Andrea Simon

, Andrea Simon, Culture Change, Blue Ocean Strategy

You must be reading a lot about what everyone is getting set up to do in the next year. We thought we would share with you some of the trends we are seeing in our trenches as we are out in the field working with clients or conducting CEO workshops. Give some thought to how these might be relevant to you and your growth strategy, and as always, please share your ideas with us. We’d love to hear from you.

What are our clients’ growth and innovation goals for 2018?

Here are some of the ones we’re seeing:

1. Redesigning the business. One client is repositioning their services firm for the growing demand among their clients and prospects to be better able to solve complex business needs. This is much more than what they used to do for them. Increasingly, they are finding that their clients want a partner with expertise who helps them become more agile in fast-changing times.

It doesn’t matter if it is CPA firm or a law firm or a design firm—limited scope of services seems to be out. Broader capabilities are becoming essential. If you cannot do it yourself, you need to bring in collaborators or freelancers or partners and operate as a general contractor. In today’s market, you never want to say you cannot do something (because if you do, clients/prospects will go elsewhere).

2. Culture change has become essential. As culture change experts, we work with and provide coaching for a number of executives, both in the U.S. and globally. We are seeing a big change in their realization that culture is “everything” or at least “a lot of the things.”

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How Women in Leadership Roles Can Finally Change The Workplace

On Nov 1, 2017 8:00:00 AM

/ Andrea Simon

, Culture Change, Corporate Culture, women in business

Did you know that firms led by women are more profitable? And that the number of women-owned businesses grew 45% from 2007 to 2016, compared to only 9% growth in overall businesses? Clearly, as women have taken on greater leadership roles in the business world, it’s paying off for both them and business, as I explain in my recent article for smallbizdaily (which you can read here).

As a corporate anthropologist, what interests me about the rise of female business leaders is their ability to restructure company cultures in order for women to thrive in the workplace. But then, what type of culture do women really want and is it all that different from what men want, too?

Recent research conducted by my firm, Simon Associates Management Consultants, revealed that in many ways, men and women want similar things in the workplace. Both prefer a strong clan culture that emphasizes collaboration, teamwork and a focus on people.

What kind of workplace cultures should women in leadership positions create?

Here are three ways women leaders can make the workplace more attentive to the needs of both men and women:

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How Women In Leadership Roles Are Improving The Workplace And The Bottom Line

On Oct 11, 2017 7:00:00 AM

/ Andrea Simon

, Culture Change, Corporate Culture, women in business, women entrepreneurs

Are women good for business? You better believe it.

As women have taken on leadership roles, it’s paid off for both them and business

As I cite in a recent article in WE magazine for women, a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that firms with women in the C-suite were more profitable. (Read the article here.) This should come as no surprise, given that the number of women-owned businesses grew 45 percent from 2007 to 2016, compared to just a 9 percent growth in the number of businesses overall.

For me, as a corporate anthropologist and culture change expert, this begs the question: With all these women in leadership roles, will they change workplace culture to make it more female-friendly? (Uber, Fox News and The Weinstein Company, take note.) Furthermore, what type of culture do women really want and is it that different from what men want, too?

To answer this and other gender-workplace issues, we at SAMC did some research. As it turns out, in many ways men and women want similar things at work. Both prefer a strong clan culture that emphasizes collaboration, teamwork and a focus on people.

Important lessons for women who head up or start their own businesses

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How Your Company Culture Can Bring You Down

On Jun 28, 2017 3:40:40 PM

/ Andrea Simon

, Culture Change, Corporate Culture

What we can all learn from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s downfall 

Who would have thought that one blog from an exasperated employee could bring down the CEO of the world’s most valuable private company? Just goes to show: one person really can make a difference.

As I describe in my recent article published in Home Business Magazine, it all began with an Uber employee, Susan Fowler, going public about her harassment and sexual assault by her manager. She at first thought the situation was unique to her but soon a tsunami of complaints were streaming into HR—which did nothing.

But this wasn’t about a single individual. Once the curtain got pulled back on Uber's internal workings, it became sickeningly clear that here was a culture that had lost any focus on core values.

In light of all this, if you're a CEO, how can you create a workplace culture that prevents sexual harassment situations from undermining your business, and even your own leadership?

In brief (for more, read my article here), here are three things to consider in order to see your business with “fresh eyes.”

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Today "On the Brink" Podcast Goes Live!!

On Jun 19, 2017 6:00:00 AM

/ Andrea Simon

, Entrepreneurs, Culture Change, business change management


Today, June 19th, We Go Live!! 
Listen to our new podcast, designed just for you.  

We know how hard it is to be agile in these fast changing times. Our "On the Brink" podcast is all about how to "see, feel and think" in new ways—so you can build agility and adaptability into your toolkit and successfully capitalize on the new and the next. It is designed for business leaders, successful entrepreneurs, and those of you who are building companies. It is also about how to build a better "you." 

In fact, that's the subject of my first podcast: 

How to "see, feel and think" in new ways to reignite your business or career. 

Listen to it now:

Listen to Andi's Podcast

And don't forget to subscribe so we can send you new podcasts each week!

Subscribe to "On The Brink" Podcast

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Announcing "On the Brink" Podcast!

On Jun 12, 2017 9:26:52 PM

/ Andrea Simon

, Entrepreneurs, Culture Change, business change management

A Brand New Podcast — Designed Just for You! Please hold the date, June 19th!  

That's the day I am launching my new podcast "On the Brink," all about how to help you "soar."

Subscribe to "On The Brink" Podcast

Are you ready to change your business? Maybe your job or career? All too often, people want to change but just don't know how. This podcast is all about how to "see, feel and think" in new ways—so you can change for the better. 

In fact, that's the subject of my first podcast: How to "see, feel and think" in new ways to reignite your business or career.

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How To Stop Worrying About Failing So You Can Truly Succeed

On May 25, 2017 11:00:00 AM

/ Andrea Simon

, Culture Change, Inbound Marketing, Corporate Anthropology, women in business

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by Jodi Flynn for her podcast Women Taking the Lead. When I learned that the goal of her organization is to inspire women to overcome self-doubt so they can lead with confidence, integrity and a sense of humor, I leapt at it. Right up my alley!

Over the course of our conversation, Jodi asked some very interesting questions which allowed me to discusst what I'm passionate about, such as corporate anthropology, culture change,  women CEOs and especially inbound marketing. This question really made me think: What would I say to my younger self? My answer: Be an adventurer, stay curious. Don't worry about failing. Pivot and just keep tinkering and trying stuff and sooner or later, you'll hit upon your a-ha moment.

To get ideas for helping your company adapt to change in this fast-changing world, I invite you to take a listen.

To listen to the podcast, click here:

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