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How to make change management happen in the most effective way

Many things can put your business at risk, including changes to your organisation, people or technology. The current pandemic has put many businesses under unprecedented pressure, and some even teetering on the brink of survival. Crises like this quickly turn change...

Future-ready part 2: Diversity – an essential ingredient for a future-ready organisation

In his seminal 1937 essay, “The nature of the firm,” the economist and eventual Nobel laureate Ronald Coase argued that corporations exist to avoid the transaction costs of the free market. Yet with transaction costs plummeting (spurred by rising connectivity)...

Future-ready part 1: What does a future-ready business look like in the new normal?

The pressure to change had been building for years. Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, senior executives routinely worried that their organisations were too slow, too siloed, too bogged down in complicated matrix structures, too bureaucratic. What many leaders feared,...

Organisation Design: Restructuring or Reshuffling to enable Strategy

Customer expectations are not just changing; they are exceeding the ability of a business to deliver on time. They are looking for alternatives, with more emphasis on experience and convenience. To keep up, companies are evolving their offering to meet the...

How to fill the gap between Strategy and Execution

Organisations are great at setting their strategy and identifying their goals, but they fall short when it comes to their operating model review and redesign, the key component that enables the strategy and drives the achievement of goals. Operating models consist of...

Culture PART 2: The role of leaders in a culture shift

In the previous article in this series we examined the effect of COVID-19 on an organisation’s culture. Now, we turn the focus onto the role of leadership and technology in leveraging culture. When an organisation decides to change its culture – be it planned or...

Culture PART 1: Did COVID-19 signal the end for hierarchical organisations?

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, human capital is defined as: “the knowledge, skills, competencies and other attributes embodied in individuals or groups of individuals acquired during their life and used to produce goods,...

Meet MAC’s Executives: Karina Jardim, Senior Executive

“Exceptionally talented consultant” “An absolute pleasure to work with” “Driven by a desire to see people grow” If you know Karina Jardim, you know that these phrases used to describe Karina ring undoubtedly true. She is a name that is valued to every MACer, whether...

Thriving in the Age of Digital Adoption: Embracing the Workforce Ecosystem (part 2)

In the first part of this series, we looked at how the fears of technological innovation are resulting in an unproductive resistance toward modernisation, even as it gains extraordinary pace in 2021. We also delved into the importance of a growth mindset in allowing...

Thriving in the Age of Digital Adoption: Overcoming the Fear of AI (part 1)

“What if artificial intelligence takes over my job? What if I become redundant?” Every one of us has experienced technology encroaching on our lives, more and more so with each year that passes. It appears that technological innovation is a certainty that is only...



Mac Consulting

Lessons from an anthropologist

Mac Minds Insights | Mac Consulting

Over a glass of wine and good conversation with a respected anthropologist, I discovered that consulting and anthropology are in many ways similar and require many of the same talents. Anthropology describes the impact of humans on humans – their cultures, tools, techniques, traditions, values, economic mechanisms, and struggles for prestige.

Anthropologists study the culture of living people – past and present. If you want to know why people cross the road at the zebra crossing, or why they believe in witchcraft, or why some groups sanction marriage between cousins and others not, ask an anthropologist. They study how people adapt to their environment (or adapt their environment to them), how they organise their societies, and the shared systems of meaning and belief that they develop. Anthropologists gather this information by observing and talking to people.

Is this sounding a bit like a regular day in your life?

Another glass of wine and we agreed that both consultants and anthropologists must:

  • Remain ever curious about their world and that of others. And, importantly, realise that they are different. They are people living in the same time and city, or even working in the same business, who have different perceptions and beliefs and so see things in vastly different ways. Our brains are wired more differently than we believe (lessons from neuroscience, courtesy of David Rock).
  • Have the ability to zoom in and live and breathe in ‘their’ worlds, and then zoom out to observe the greater whole and how it works together. And from this position of understanding, coupled with relative objectivity, be able to create hypotheses and frameworks from which we can learn to build a better future.
  • Observe without judgement in the firm belief that in general people do what they do from a position of positive intention. No one wants to foul up, fail or give up. As human beings we want to prosper, get ahead and make good.
  • Appreciate that the variables are such that the lessons cannot simply be replicated in another civilisation or business, but need to be tailor-made with the collaboration and support of the people who must live in that environment.
  • Beware the ‘comfort conspiracy’. From an anthropological perspective it is clear that human beings like their creature comforts. There is also an unspoken conspiracy about not wanting to make anyone else uncomfortable, physically, mentally or emotionally. And this is a lesson we consultants sometimes struggle with: the need to create a certain amount of discomfort, challenge the thinking around the table, disturb the ‘old boys’ clubs’, and continuously stretch ourselves and others.

I would like to believe that as consultants we get the opportunity to influence the course of history (before it becomes history, of course). But this is probably a vanity created largely by my particular brain hardwiring and will have to wait for another time, another conversation and another bottle of wine!

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