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A Passion 




Gillian Tett on anthropology, the silo effect and taking time.

Podcast ‘Colliding with the unexpected’ with Gillian Tett, in The Innovation Ecosystem

I was excited when Mark Bidwell told me Gillian Tett would be speaking on his blog, The Innovation Ecosystem. It was great hear her talk and as always, there was so much to learn about anthropology in the business world, the risk of the silo effect and the importance of slack and unexpected encounters.

Gillian Tett shared about how she brings her anthropological background to study business and the financial world. This one foot in, one foot out, can be used by all of us. When working in an international environment, empathy and being integrated are important. However, sometimes we don’t understand, feel confused or even angry, taking a step back, looking at the situation as a researcher can help ask questions, gain a better understanding and not feel personally threatened. Moreover, although technologies and big data may appear to be pushing away social sciences with their fact driven scientific approach, in fact, humans create the machines, program them and decide which data to analyse. Anthropologists can help understand how people are designing IT systems, how to organise employees and how those digital technologies interact with consumers.

Our world appears hyper-connected and global, however, Gillian Tett shows how in fact it is increasingly fragmented. Mark and Gillian discuss the cases of Sony and Facebook and what can be done to overcome this silo effect: rotations, share ideas, role swap, hackathons, common on-boarding experience, company wide discussion platforms, architecture (channelling people to bump into each other regularly), and giving people slack.

The importance of slack and unexpected encounters struck a cord. So many business books recommend using our time efficiently, focusing only on our top priorities and avoid wasting time. I have always believed that taking one’s time enhances our quality of life. What is the point of fast reading a novel? The music of the words disappears, you can no longer immerse yourself in this different world. Enjoying a coffee, looking at what other people are doing. Visiting a museum to discover another perspective, a different way of seeing the world, or just to enjoy the pictures. Gillian shows how this is when you make new discoveries and become creative.

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