Anthropologists seem convinced that no one wants to hire them. With very low unemployment and almost 6 million jobs going unfilled in the U.S. today, shouldn’t highly-skilled, well-trained and capable anthropologists be able to find work of some kind that’s related to their education and interests?
When I started writing this blog, I was interested in how schools use anthropology and its observational research methods. I wasn't curious about how schools were teaching anthropology, but how they applied its theory, methods and tools to help address the significant issues of climate and cultural changes. As I scanned the research trying to find how anthropologists help schools change, grow and improve, I came to the realization that anthropologists are not being used to help schools. But quite frankly, they should be!
So how can anthropologists help our schools?
A few days ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Eric Dye, professional blogger and founder of EPN (Entrepreneur Podcast Network). He wanted my perspective on a wide range of topics, from corporate anthropology to Blue Ocean Strategy® to culture change to the rise of women CEOs. He was also very interested in my book, "On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights" and its stories of companies that have achieved meaningful breakthroughs and growth by applying corporate anthropology to their businesses.
What exactly is corporate anthropology?
During the course of our conversation, Eric asked me the following very interesting questions about how anthropoloy applies to the business world:
- Influential companies like Microsoft and Intel are hiring corporate anthropologists, believing that understanding and molding corporate culture is a worthwhile investment. Your research and career is dedicated to this field. Why do you think anthropology is important to a company?
- How can smaller companies put these concepts to use?
- What is one of the guiding principles of your work?
- What are you working on now?
- If you were to give a business owner only one piece of advice, what would it be?
To listen to the podcast, click here:
Few things bring me more joy than talking about how anthropology can re-ignite a stalled business by getting its leaders to shift their to focus from what they think customers want to what customers actually want. To do this, CEOs and their staff need to leave their offices and venture out into the field (think "Undercover Boss") so they can look at their company with fresh eyes as if it was a foreign, small-scale society. This can't be done inside the walls of the C-suite.
So it was just terrific to be interviewed by Jason Middleton of KGO-810 Radio for his Techonomics radio broadcast recently. He "got" what I was saying, he asked really insightful questions and it was just a pleasure to speak with him. The interview was broken up into two parts, which you can listen to here:
We covered a lot of ground, from Blue Ocean Strategy® to what men and women want in the workplace to my book, "On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights." To whet your appetite and encourage you to learn more, I'll summarize both parts here.
At Simon Associates Management Consultants, one of our former clients was struggling with total disarray in her company, leading to significant financial losses, downsizing and job elimination, not to mention loss of trust in the markets her company serves. Describing how she was coping, she said: “I am resilient and somehow I will do just fine.”
Another client, and then a female acquaintance, too, told me the same thing — that they are resilient and will figure out how to deal with their present struggles and come out the other side.
Ah, resiliance, that crucial attribute that enables people to cope with the unexpected, unfamiliar, unwanted or simply the pain and challenges that life tosses at them. It's something I recently wrote about in an article for Forbes.com, which you can read here.
3 attibutes through the ages that have helped form human resilience
As an anthropologist, what is of particular significance to me is how these colleagues’ statements reminded me of the ways in which Homo sapiens have evolved, adapted and become the dominant Homo species on earth, as described in the excellent book by Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
As I describe in my Forbes article, Harari believes that there are three major forces that propelled Homo sapiens into dominance: