Inside LaunchStreet Andrea Simon

How Corporate Anthropology Can Leave You Questioning Your Herd.

Andrea Simon knows how to turn customer input into innovation. She is a leader in the emerging field of corporate anthropology and the author of the award-winning book, On The Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights. On Inside LaunchStreet, we explore how we should think of our businesses as small scale societies, avoiding the challenges of the herd, and turning everyday observations into profound insights.


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Key Takeaways:

[1:33] Corporate anthropology is a social science approach to studying our society and how humans organize themselves. Corporate anthropologists take observation and turn it into innovation.

[3:50] Tamara compares organizations/innovation to microorganisms. They are either growing or dying. There really is no such thing as stagnant. Most companies would be perfectly happy if everyday was like yesterday.

[5:46] Listen in to hear Andi discuss some common problems of today’s business. Find out why the 30-somethings don’t answer the phones!

[7:54] How do you turn observation into innovation? Really listen to what the consumer is telling us and turn it into what they are asking for. Part of it is discovery and part of it is delivery. How do I do this in an innovative way?

[13:55] Tamara shares a personal experience about ethnography and self perception.  The power of observation is so much greater than anything else.

[17:09] The first thing Andi does it take the client out into the field. The disconnect between what the customer really needs, instead of what you think they need, is the gap where ethnographers can play the role to understand what they are seeing differently.

[18:30] Get introduced to the “What If” sales process. Find out how to solve the client’s unmet needs.


[19:24] Find out what pitfalls clients are experiencing when they call Andi for help. Andi shares an experience about a filling station and filling a water bottle.

[22:42] Tamara advises that the question we need to ask ourselves is, are we going to move in our marketplace and sell more tomorrow?

[25:00] Tamara and Andi discuss why malls across America are fully staffed yet empty.  Why are there customers in Apple, Tesla and Peloton Bikes but very few elsewhere? Why is the biggest challenge for doormen in Manhattan finding space for delivered packages for the tenants?

[29:21] Listen in to find out how a mall bowling alley, pool table club, and bar have combined space to experience success by focusing on upscale experiential valuable upscale experiences. Customers want to experience the purchase.

[32:03] Andi believes that people are most comfortable in a herd. They like to hang out, and find their tribe and culture. The herd brings some challenges. First, most of the herd will resist when change is on the horizon. Second, the herd is typically not motivated to change until there’s a crisis. Third, it’s difficult to allocate money, resources amongst the herd. Fourth, the herd groups together and resists change to politics and power.

[34:35] A few tips to avoid following the herd are to seek for ways to become open-minded to disagreement, and to resist the urge to push new innovation away.

[37:52] Humans make decisions using heart to head processes. We need to ask ourselves which group do I want to belong to? Do I want to be an outlier in this decision?

[38:56] Tamara challenges her listeners to take step back and come to understand and come to an informed judgement. Is it possible for the herd to be involved in innovation?

[42:18] Andi compares collaboration to golf. Find out why Tamara advises us to observe and take copious notes to what people are saying and doing, for profound insight.

[43:56] Connect with Andi , listen to On The Brink Podcast and buy her book here.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Simon Associates Management Consultant Homepage

On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights, by Andi Simon, Ph.D.

LaunchStreet’s Innovation On Demand 

LaunchStreet’s Innovation Quotient Edge Assessment