Be an Anthropologist: Explore to Innovate

Innovative behavior can be assimilated, but for that we need to take a risk and leave the cave.

One brainstorming technique is "star-bursting," where the questions raise new questions. When thinking about a new product, questions like "what resources should we include?" or "who is our client?" help organize the creative process. The interrogative words who, what, when, where, why and how are essential in this process of finding solutions.


Anthropology is the science dedicated to a deep understanding of the human being. The term has Greek origin, joining "anthropos" (man, human being) and "logos" (knowledge). Observation is a method of anthropology. It consists of the researcher who enters the group he is studying in order to understand the logic that moves this community. This is one of the fundamental exercises in the innovation process.

Through observation, we go beyond the theory about how we imagine the interaction of a user with a product and come to understand in fact how the process works in the real world. In the myth of the cave, the prisoner who left the cave stopped observing the daily life in the shadows. He came to understand reality, which opened up a universe of possibilities.


In 2017, Amazon was considered the most innovative company by Fast Company. The main reason for this recognition is given to the culture of experimentation of the company. According to Jeff Bezos, the company’s CEO, one of the things that made the company innovate is how staff managed to grow the number of experiments, reducing their production cost. "If you can increase the number of experiments from 100 to 1,000, you dramatically increase the innovations you produce."

Experimenting is learning new techniques, testing hypotheses, and allowing yourself to err in order to learn from it. The best way to learn is by testing. Thus, we are able to answer questions that we did not find answers to in observation or research.


Innovators tend to excel at networking. Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce, has a habit of interacting with younger entrepreneurs. One of the examples is Drew Houston, the 28-year-old cofounder of Dropbox. "He grew up on the Internet, I did not. So he can see things in ways I do not. That perspective is really important." When developing a network of contacts, considering diversity is an important point. People with different cultures, from diverse industries, and in different roles help bring different perspectives.

These are simple points, but they are challenging in implementation. With this effort, we fail to observe "geniuses" like Jobs and Bezos, and we begin to learn from this process to be able to innovate as much as they have succeeded. Innovative behavior can be assimilated, but for that we need to take a risk and leave the cave. Only in this way can we open our horizons and find exponential possibilities.


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