Practical Ethnography


Once again I’m packing for my return to the Copenhagen Business Summer School (ISUP). I am so looking forward to teaching Business Anthropology and Organizational Ethnography – big mouthful but basically … its people-watching with some theory thrown into the mix. Key textbook is written by a fellow Canuck, Sam Ladner who is an Anthropologist at Amazon. She has written a yummy book, Practical Ethnography – a what the heck is it and how to do it book. Great for students. Great for those who wish to explore the new worlds of understanding meaning. Ever taken a survey and found you didn’t fit into the neat little boxes? That is because traditional market research uses an ‘etic’ position – defined by the researcher.  Somewhat useful but sometimes misses the mark.

Ethnography is the study of culture. As Ladner explains “Ethnographers connect details to wider patterns of social life.” It connects direct insights about people and what they care about and why. It takes what is called an ’emic’ position – being from the person’s point of view. Redefining the box or in many cases, removing the box altogether to obtain actionable insight that leads to a game changer. Ethnography puts the needs of the consumer first. And its about time.

If you care about having a competitive advantage, its time to care about ethnography. I can hardly wait to introduce it to the excellent students at CBS. People watching! in the summer! in Copenhagen! Let the educational games begin ….

Practical Ethnography: A Guide to Doing Ethnography in the Private Sector

Finding Your Creative Core, 2nd Edition


So happy to announce the 2nd edition of my workbook, Finding Your Creative Core, is now available. Its been a really busy Fall!  Building a creative environment within any organization starts with values – your own and the values-in-action within the organization. How often have you articulated your own values?  Even thought about them?  Something that most of us take for granted and yet, values form the foundation of almost everything we do.  My workbook provides a starting point of exploration – a personal Heroic Journey to the centre of Self.  For it is there that you will find the creative core you have always had.  I love working with the Heroes Journey – I admit my bias! Many business books have been written that utilize the idea of the Hero, but most play at a superficial level, failing to address the power of the archetype itself.  In November, I published  an article in the Integral Leadership Journal that gives a more in-depth look at why the Heroes Journey has such power to transform. Suffice to say that the Journey always begins with each of us, willing or not, ready or not. An old Roman motto says it best – the Fates aid those who will … those who won’t they drag. When you are touch with your creative core, you are better prepared for the Journey. I wish you safe passage!

2015 will be again be a busy year. I’m getting ready for the 2015 Human Resources Professionals Association national conference in Toronto.  I’ll be speaking on corporate culture and the ‘secret sauce’ of design-driven innovation. I hope to see you there! Best wishes for you and yours for the holiday season and 2015. Our journey continues.

Community Conversations


Margaret Wheatley said that “whatever the problem, community is the answer.” When social innovation is a hot topic, knowing how to engage your community in whatever business is occupying your time is an underdeveloped if not forgotten skill. Author Paul Born brings back community engagement and outlines ten simple techniques for community conversations. How to start them, keep them talking and then utilize the information in a constructive way that produces a win-win scenario for both business and community. Born is a master storyteller, and draws from decades of experience in community action where common goals are embraced by a diverse group of people .  His conversational writing style makes this an easy, enjoyable read. People sometimes forget that communities are living things – they need to be tended and nurtured in order for them to grow and more importantly, flourish. If you wish to engage your community, this book is a great place to kickstart your process.

Community Conversations: Mobilizing the Ideas, Skills, and Passion of Community Organizations, Governments, Businesses, and People, Second Edit

The Moment of Clarity


I’ve been busy preparing for a new summer course at the Copenhagen Business School this summer called “Corporate Anthropology and Organizational Ethnography” – a juicy title for academics!   For normal people, the course is designed to examine corporate culture – how to create and maintain cultures that drive competitive advantage.  One company who will be coming to visit the class is ReD Associates, a group of corporate anthropologists who have offices in Copenhagen and New York. I found this interesting group last year while wandering Copenhagen.  Two of the partners, Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel Rasmussen have written a new book – The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve your Toughest Business Problems.  I am also using this book as a text for the business course – so you know how much I like it!  Why? To quote the authors “The business culture is using the wrong model of human behaviour. It is getting people wrong.”  The authors are introducing a different lens to look at customers, consumers and employees – one that takes into account human emotion. They also show why smart organizations are looking for business anthropologists to join their ranks.  The authors deliver a practical framework rooted in both theory and experience and a problem-solving method to help you start to get people ‘right’.

Do you want to attract top talent to your organization? This book helps pave the way. Its available in hardcover and kindle (I have finally succumbed to carrying my favourites on my computer – it helps to eliminate overweight luggage). Happy reading!

The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems

Creative Confidence


The Kelley brothers from IDEO are at it again. After David Kelley has his brush with cancer, he decided to focus on what was most important to him – a wake up call not so gently delivered. The result is this new book on Creativity. Ever since Ken Robinson stated that ‘creativity is as important as literacy‘ – it has become a cause worth promoting and celebrating. I had the pleasure of listening to David Kelley last week talking about design thinking, bringing to the forefront the human element in products and in organizations. Innovation comes from people, and people can enhance their innate creativity. Nothing is more important to economic viability then leveraging creative capital in our people. A message worth repeating over and over again. The piece that many executives seem to miss is that working from this mindset increases employee engagement, reduces turnover, keeps your talent at home and drives profitability. So what is holding us back? A worthwhile read to get you headed in the right direction.

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

The Next Decade


George Friedman is a NY Times Best Seller author for a reason. As CEO and founder of Stratfor, the world’s leading private intelligence think tank, he is called upon frequently to speak to upcoming trends. In “The Next Decade”, Friedman speaks to the political shifts taking place, decisions, their consequences, and how North America will handle the conflicts and opportunities that lie ahead. Well worth curling up by the fire and exploring how the next decade will impact your life and the lives of those you love. What better holiday present?

The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World

Childhood Under Seige


Joel Bakan has written another expose on one of the most at risk segments of society – our kids. Bakan calls it like he sees it – with children being a new resource to be ‘mined for profit’. Tackling education, social media, the gaming industry, pharamaceuticals and of course, marketing – Bakan exposes the underbelly of corporate profiteering at its worst. Offering some proposals to protect children from these predatory practices, Bakan again hits home. A book to be read by every parent and a warning to any corporation who has escaped notice in the past.

 

Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children