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A New Way to See in Business and Life

Avid Reader Press,

15 min read
7 take-aways
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Anthropology helps limit personal and professional myopia.

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Anthropology can help people and organizations that are burdened by the inability to perceive problems and opportunities outside an inflexible field of focus, says respected Financial Times editor, author and columnist Gillian Tett. Anthropological discipline demands listening to what people say, developing empathy, valuing diversity and identifying bias blind spots. As investors apply broader approaches to the businesses in their portfolios, Tett teaches, more companies need to replace tunnel vision with anthro-like “lateral vision,” taking in a wider scope of issues, including ESG ramifications.  


Anthropology offers three principles useful in business: listen, show empathy and be aware of your blind spots.

Anthropology provides a broad awareness of culture and context in human interactions. Anthropological thinking can help economists, investors, executives, professionals and policy-makers as financial models come undone and economic predictions and voter surveys prove unreliable. An anthropological approach to analysis – “anthro-vision” – can enhance leaders’ perceptions by limiting tunnel vision while inspiring their “lateral vision.”

Anthropological thinking offers three useful tenets:

  1. Extend empathetic regard to strangers and embrace diversity.
  2. Learn empathy by listening to others, which helps enable accurate self-perceptions.
  3. Identify habitual misperceptions – or blind spots – in the mental maps people inherit and use.

Even huge amounts of digital data have limits. Big data conveys what is happening but seldom conveys why. Anthro-vision complements big data and other approaches to analysis and problem-solving. As AI reshapes the world, humans need a complementary AI – “anthropology...

About the Author

Gillian Tett is editor-at-large US for the Financial Times, and chairs its editorial board. She co-founded the newsletter FT Moral Money which covers ESG from a business perspective. Her other books are: Saving the Sun: A Wall Street Gamble to Rescue Japan from Its Trillion-Dollar Meltdown; Fool’s Gold: The Inside Story of J.P. Morgan and How Wall St. Greed Corrupted Its Bold Dream and Created a Financial Catastrophe; and The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers.  

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