Understanding and Connecting across Diverse Situations, with People and Thoughts through the Anthropologist’s Perspective


Starbucks Roastery Milano - the buildingHow was Starbucks able to create a unique experience in its store in Milan? How does YouTube leverage the diversity of its users to find diverse applications of its technology around the world? How do these questions compare with an international business problem you or your business is facing?

Below you can find critical insights Bruce Burnside shared from the field of anthropology at a Global Mindset in Action webinar in March. The perspective and toolbox of the anthropologist may be just what you need to solve your current business problem.

Start with a beginner’s mind. Test your assumptions when confronted with a new cultural situation.

Engage from a point of rapport and trust. Letting go of your pre-existing judgments and opening your mind up to considering different perspectives will lead to a flow of information.

Ask “why” often and in different ways. “Tell me more about this” can be a very useful way to elicit more critical information and identify commonalities in thinking or connecting.

Observe to obtain unspoken information. Adopt a practice of objective observation. Observing a situation may enable to identify the hidden information behind words and give you the opportunity to ask for the story explaining the situation or a cultural phenomenon.

Embrace difference and diverse thinking without fetishizing it. When did you practice something that you learned in a different culture to see how this might work for you or because you liked the practice? Embracing diversity can result in great creativity and innovation.

Last but not least, Bruce provided an example where an experienced researcher found herself learning something new in one of her workshops by listening to her frustration. Frustration in international business may not necessarily be a problem. When we intentionally take a moment or a pause to reflect on this frustration and potentially enlist help we may learn something very new that advances us.

We ended the webinar by deciding to take a pause for reflection regularly and when necessary. Thank you, Bruce for sharing your expertise with many examples and research stories that truly helped us form a new repertoire of thinking, researching and innovating.  Looking forward to great conversations again soon…

Bruce BurnsideAnthropology is the science of human beings.  As technology becomes a much bigger part of the human life and we need to acknowledge the role of technology as a new diversity element in business. We think there is great value in the perspective of the anthropologist.  We thank Bruce Burnside for his continued contributions on the Culture Curious Global Minds Blog. 


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