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jerryking : anthropology   9

‘An Anthropologist on Wall Street’ — Cultural Anthropology
Tett, Gillian. "‘An Anthropologist on Wall Street’." Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website, May 16, 2012.

Anthropology can be extremely useful for understanding the contemporary financial world because of all the micro-level communities—or ‘tribes’ to use the cliché term—that are cropping up around the financial system....The event pulled together bankers from all over. They staged formalized rituals with PowerPoint presentations, but also engaged in informal rituals like chitchat in the wings.

As they came together and talked, these bankers were creating a network of ties. But they were also inventing a new language they felt made them distinctive from everyone else. The way they talked about credit was to emphasize the numbers and to quite deliberately exclude any mention of social interaction from the debate and discussion. In the first couple of days I sat there, they almost never mentioned the human borrower who was at the end of that securitization chain. They were also very exclusive. There was a sense that ‘we alone have mastery over this knowledge’....Part two of the CDO gospel was that bankers had had this sudden inspiration that they should stop concentrating credit risk and find ways to scatter it across the system....Looking back there were many elements of securitization that were evidently flawed. The tools bankers were using to disburse risk across the system were themselves very opaque and complex. The very way by which they disbursed risk was actually introducing new risk into the system.......fundamental contradiction at the very heart of the system that almost nobody spotted. Why not? To put it crudely, because there were too few anthropologists, using basic anthropological techniques, trying to understand what was going on. Having an anthropological perspective is very useful. The very nature of anthropology is to try to connect up the dots. That’s something that most modern bureaucrats, most bankers, and most company executives are not able to do, precisely because they’re so darn busy running around in their silos.
Wall_Street  Gillian_Tett  anthropologists  financial_system  securitization  finance  ethnographic  insights  CDOs  connecting_the_dots  cultural_anthropology  anthropology  tribes  silo_mentality 
march 2017 by jerryking
Intel’s Sharp-Eyed Social Scientist
FEB. 15, 2014 | NYT |By NATASHA SINGER.

Dr. Bell’s title at Intel, the world’s largest producer of semiconductors, is director of user experience research at Intel Labs, the company’s research arm. She runs a skunk works of some 100 social scientists and designers who travel the globe, observing how people use technology in their homes and in public. The team’s findings help inform the company’s product development process, and are also often shared with the laptop makers, automakers and other companies that embed Intel processors in their goods.
Intel  UX  anthropologists  semiconductors  observations  product_development  ethnography  consumer_research  anthropology  automotive_industry  laptops  social_science 
february 2014 by jerryking
Pulling More Meaning from Big Data
August 2013 | Retail Leader | By Ed Avis

"A.G. Lafley [Procter & Gamble's CEO] spoke of the two moments of truth," says John Ross, president of Inmar Analytics based in Winston-Salem, N.C. "The first occurs when a consumer buys a product, and the second when they use it. Much of the data today is about orchestrating and understanding those two moments. But two additional moments of truth are emerging to bookend Lafley's. One occurs when a consumer is planning to make a purchase. The other happens following use, when the consumer talks about his or her experience with the product. All of these activities leave a 'data wake' that describes how the consumer is moving down the path to purchase." (jk: going to assume that data wake = exhaust data).

Like most consumer packaged goods companies, Procter & Gamble relies on data to determine what consumers are looking for. "Consumer insight is at the core of our business model. We approach every brand we make by asking the question, 'What do people really need and want from this product? What does this mean to their lives?' Let me be clear – this is not casual observation. We employ teams of behavioral scientists, researchers, psychologists, even anthropologists to uncover true insight based on intensive research and exploration," said Marc Pritchard, P&G's global marketing and brand building officer, speaking at the Association of National Advertisers' 2012 Annual Conference....Most firms haven't advanced beyond localized analytics and don't fully capitalize on the existing data they have at hand – such as POS data, loyalty club data and social media traffic – according to a 2012 Deloitte study for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
massive_data_sets  Sobeys  grocery  supermarkets  Safeway  P&G  A.G._Lafley  Kroger  point-of-sale  loyalty_management  customer_insights  insights  CPG  exhaust_data  psychologists  psychology  anthropologists  anthropology  ethnography  behavioural_science  hiring-a-product-to-do-a-specific-job  data  information_sources  moments  moments_of_truth 
december 2013 by jerryking
Hit the Ground Running--Or Else the perils of a new job
March 6, 2000 | Fortune Magazine | By Dan Ciampa.

What's the main reason people from the outside fail?

They don't read the culture of the place that they're joining.

Is that why you say a new person needs to be a cultural anthropologist?

Yes. In general, I think the most effective way to read the culture is to look at the artifacts--that's what an anthropologist does. What does it say that people greet you the way they do? What does it say that meetings are run the way they are? There are some organizations that eschew meetings. Well, that says something about what works and what doesn't in that culture, and it says something about the skills of the people who survive there.

What if you've been brought in to make change?

It's important to understand what you're going to change before you change it. I'd say that even if the board or the chairman has brought you in because of what you've done in the past, there's a lot that you don't know. And the degree to which you find those things out is a function of people's trusting you. The only way you can do that is by not coming in as though you're Attila the Hun--not coming in as though you have the answer--but rather coming in and asking more questions than making declarative statements, especially in the first several weeks. ....on day one you have a plan to make sure that the first 30 days are really successful.
first90days  outsiders  Michael_Watkins  failure  questions  pilot_programs  alliances  hiring  anthropologists  anthropology  unknowns  organizational_culture  change  change_agents  artifacts  cultural_anthropology 
december 2012 by jerryking
Interview: The cellphone anthropologist
11 June 2008 | New Scientist | by Jason Palmer.

How do phones fit in?
The common denominator between cultures, regardless of age, gender or context is: keys, money and,
if you own one, a mobile phone. Why those three objects? Without wanting to sound hyperbolic,
essentially it boils down to survival. Keys provide access to warmth and shelter, money is a very
versatile tool that can buy food, transport and so on. A mobile phone, people soon realise, is a great
tool for recovering from emergency situations, especially if the first two fail.

What uses surprised you?
In a country like Uganda, most mobile phones are prepay. What we saw was that people are using their
phones as a kind of money transfer system. They would buy prepaid credit in the city, ring up a phone
kiosk operator in a village, read out the number associated with that credit so that the kiosk operator
could top up their own phone, then ask that the credit be passed on to someone in the village - say,
their sister - in cash....

With this level of informal innovation going on, can you bring anything extra to the table?
I'm not going to give you the bland corporate answer - "we do this research and then six months later a
product drops off the factory line that perfectly reflects our vision" - because the world is much messier
and more interesting than that. But, for instance, we did a study on phone sharing in Uganda and
Indonesia, and within a year - which is really quick when you're talking about hardware changes - we
had two products out which support multiple address books,
Nokia  interviews  anthropology  mobile_phones  UX  prepaid  emerging_markets  Uganda  credit  Jan_Chipcase  ethnography  Indonesia  anthropologists  insights  new_products 
october 2011 by jerryking
Assumption hunters, a new consulting business?
March 5, 2008 | CultureBy | Grant McCracken.

What is the most vexing problem in management today?

Next to setting our objectives, running a tight ship and meeting our numbers, I would argue that it’s watching out for the blind side hit.

By blind side hit, I mean the kind of thing that Google did to Microsoft, that Barak did to Hillary, that hip hop did to Levi-Strauss, that Snapple did to Coca-Cola.

Watching for blind side hits is difficult because it means knowing our assumptions. And this is hard because assumptions are not for knowing, they are for making.
........The trouble with assumptions is that they are by definition invisible from view. (That’s why we call them "unknown unknowns.") We hold ideas about the world without full awareness of what these ideas are or how they make us vulnerable. .......So what to do. How about, for starters, this three step "assumption hunting" process?

1) ferret out the assumptions. Hire someone to go through the operation of daily business and capture every assumption. Philosophers are quite good at this. Anthropologists are very good at it. This is after all the way they study culture, which is, by and large, a set of assumptions that helps us think and act fluidly precisely because we don’t know we are making them.

2) identify the parts of the world that could present challenges. Figure out just what the challenge is and when and how it will "come ashore."

3) Keep watch with a big board. In effect, what we are doing is "sunsetting" our assumptions with a view to discovery when they reach they end of their useful lives.
assumptions  management_consulting  information_gaps  the_big_picture  uncertainty  unknowns  anthropology  blindsided  blind_spots  challenges  anthropologists  philosophers 
december 2010 by jerryking
The Science Of Desire
JUNE 5, 2006 | BusinessWeek | By Spencer E. Ante, with Cliff
Edwards in San Mateo, Calif. Ethnographers, are a species of
anthropologist who can, among other things, identify what's missing in
people's lives -- the perfect cell phone, home appliance, or piece of
furniture -- and work with designers and engineers to help dream up
products and services to fill those needs.... The beauty of ethnography,
say its proponents, is that it provides a richer understanding of
consumers than does traditional research. Yes, companies are still using
focus groups, surveys, and demographic data to glean insights into the
consumer's mind. But closely observing people where they live and work,
say executives, allows companies to zero in on their customers'
unarticulated desires. Ethnographers' findings often don't lead to a
product or service, only a generalized sense of what people want. Their
research can also take a long time to bear fruit.
ethnography  consumer_research  market_entry  GE  emerging_markets  embryonic  anthropologists  anthropology  observations  unarticulated_desires 
january 2010 by jerryking

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