Having introduced business anthropology in a blog last month, now is a good time to start applying what you have learned.
To remind you, business anthropology looks at the relationships and interactions between people working with each other. It looks at the relationships and motivations of individuals and teams and how you might ‘press the right buttons’ to improve productivity.
Great insights cam be gained by observing people and how they behave with others. This can be difficult for leaders as it involves watching and listening objectively and not interfering while carrying out their research. It raises their level of awareness.
It can also be used to look at clients and consumers whether looking at their interactions with your products and staff, or at your staff and how they deal with customers, rather like a secret shopper.
Essentially business anthropology insights can be used to make improvements to your business.
There are three areas where you might consider applying such insights. These are in changing the corporate culture, refining relationships with customers and clients, and in developing new or improving existing products/services.
Business anthropology and corporate culture
In a situation where the age profile of the workforce may be changing as new, younger employees join your business and have to learn to interact with older employees it may be that you should pay some attention to understanding the differences in approach and work style of the two groups and introducing ways of encouraging greater integration.
There will be many more areas to look at but the approach begins with awareness of a need to change and is implemented through engagement with those affected.
Business anthropology and customers
This is about listening for unmet needs, pain points and challenges. It is also about how your employees interact with customers.
It can be helpful to go through the process of buying and using a product yourself and this can often feed in to developing a new product or service.
An illustration of this is from 1999 when Procter & Gamble, suppliers of cleaning products, engaged anthropologists who watched people cleaning their floors. They noticed that the process also involved a significant amount of time spent cleaning the mop itself. The result was the development of the Swiffer, floor cleaning equipment that came with a handle/applicator and a collection of disposable pads to attach and use for wet or dry cleaning. This remains one of the company’s most popular products.
It worked because the observation of the process identified a “pain point” and provided an adaptable solution that cut down on the amount of time needed to clean a floor.
Please let me know if you have applied business anthropology methods to your business and what insights you gleaned from your observations.