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„That full complement of riches‟

The future role of anthropology in business and society

Simon Roberts, Founding Partner
Amsterdam, 29th November 2013

Hello and thank you for inviting me

@ideasbazaar & @stripepartners

1 – A bright future 2 – The state we‟re in 3 – What my past looks like 4 – Inventing your own future

1 – A bright future 2 – The state we‟re in 3 – What my past looks like 4 – Inventing your own future

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news

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….but I cannot tell you what it looks like

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The best way to predict the future is to invent it Alan Kay

1 – A bright future 2 – The state we‟re in 3 – What my past looks like 4 – Inventing your own future

Fish don’t know the existence of water until they’re beached.

The world wide web is 7,037 days young…

Markets have been transformed

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1930

1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2013

2020

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(Projected)

Average lifespan (in years) of an S&P 500 company
90 Source: McKinsey & Co
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Kodak, Nokia, Blockbuster

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Music, movies, letters, advertising, identity, friendships, conversations, therapy, medical records, educational materials, games, money, reputation, dating, credit, banking, knowledge, maps, languages, work, politics, government, voting, journalism, photos, revolutions, justice, parking spaces, hotel rooms…

Excerpted from - Models in Motion: Ethnography Moves from Complicatedness to Complex Systems – ken anderson, Tony Salvador, Brandon Barnett. EPIC 2013 Proceedings

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FLUX

Flux
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Opportunity

Challenge

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Environmental degradation

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Obesity

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views on why anthropology

may have something to offer this sort of world

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“…[it] forms a treasure-hoard of experiences and concepts, and above all a perpetual principle of dissatisfaction, of calling into question…what may seem, in other respects, to be established….

[it is] a „counter-science‟; which does not mean that it less „rational‟ or „objective‟ than the others, but that it flows in the opposite direction…”

The Order of Things – Foucault
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Business schools tend to focus on inductive thinking [based on directly observable facts] and deductive thinking [analysis typically based on past evidence]…
…design schools emphasize abductive thinking imagining what could be possible. This new thinking approach helps us challenge assumed constraints and add to ideas, versus discouraging them.
A G Lafely, CEO Procter & Gamble

Not understanding what ageing means to people
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1 – A bright future 2 – The state we‟re in 3 – What my past looks like 4 – Inventing your own future

I did my PhD in north India on the media revolution of the mid 1990s

Krishna Lila Pic

Applied

Academe

Applied

Anthropolog y
Academe

My career to date has looked something like this…

Ideas Bazaar

Intel

ReD Associates

Stripe Partners

If you want to understand what a science is, you should look in the first instance not at its theories or its findings, and certainly not at what its apologists say about it; you should look at what the practitioners of it do Clifford Geertz

Much like other anthropologists we spend a lot of time in the field

•Conduct fieldwork

We analyse the data (usually in teams)

•Write on walls

Make PowerPoint Slides

Conduct „baseline‟ and multi-country studies

And do more focused, domain specific „deep dives‟

•Intel Confidential

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Which can lead to more specific ideas being generated

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That can then be built out as prototypes

For exploration with their intended users

We try to sell our ideas

•Create booklets to circulate our work

In the past business anthropology was geared to reducing risk in situations of complexity and uncertainty

Business
UNCERTAINTY CERTAINTY

Product

User

Technology

Time

But there‟s been a shift from product to system and service thinking…

Product Thinking

System & Service thinking

And a turn towards thinking about what might be…‟design fictions‟

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And how to make things grow…

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This requires us to be more like pigs and less like chickens

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1 – A bright future 2 – The state we‟re in 3 – What my past looks like 4 – Inventing your own future

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http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2386/2232068772_1457 39e7da_b.jpg

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Do research, write fieldnotes and take photos

Join the Anthrodesign Group on Yahoo!

Consider doing a PhD (Useful if you want to work at Intel/Microsoft/Googl e etc..

Read ethnographies

Read the business pages and lots of other stuff

Develop additional skills – sketch, ideation, software, prototyping, film making & ?

Attend EPIC or read the papers

Learn to network

Thank you. Do stay in touch.

@ideasbazaar & @stripepartners