Gillian Tett - Anthro-Vision: How Anthropology Can Explain Business and Life

Jul 20, 09:45 AM
I am also the CEO of JC & Associates which is a consultancy that helps businesses develop better working cultures and relationships with their stakeholders. 

I have been working as a business anthropologists for over 20 years. By business anthropologist, I mean that I use my anthropological training to advise businesses on how to improve their organisational cultures, or think about how they connect with their consumers, or begin to design future strategies that take into account the most complex and often messy concept that they are constantly faced with, culture. 

There is no doubt that once leaders or teams embrace the subtle ways in which culture works, they can feel liberated and empowered to move forward in a positive way. However, selling-in an anthropological approach can, at times be a challenge. This is mainly because companies often need ‘quick fixes’ or want to see the value before they have addressed any business challenge. As I said, culture is messy and therefore it takes time to unravel, one needs to see in between the lines and identify the gray spaces of everyday culture. This a key strength of social or cultural anthropology in business. 

So, how to we make sense of culture and society and how do we communicate the massive value that an anthropological approach can offer business, politics, policy makers and more?

To help me explore this I spoke with Gillian Tett, about her new book Anthro-Vision: How Anthropology can explain business and life. 

Gillian is the chair of the editorial board and editor-at-large at the Financial Times. She is perhaps best known for predicting the 2007-8 financial crisis, this led to her bestselling book Fool's Gold which was one of the definitive books on the crash. 

Like me, Gillian holds a PhD in social anthropology. She studied at the University of Cambridge, where her PhD focused on marriage rituals in Tajikistan. Her work for the FT has taken her around the world and she has won numerous awards, including Columnist, Journalist and Business Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards. She is also a regular at Davos.

Although Anthro Vision has just been published it has already gained much acclaimed attention in the global media and business press. She has already discussed the book on BBC radio 4’s Start the Week alongside the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, 

While Melinda Gates states that. 'Anyone working to rebuild a more equal world will benefit from Tett's well-argued case that to solve twenty-first-century problems, we must expand our fields of vision and fill in old blind spots with new empathy.' All relevant links in the show notes.