Sunday, April 12, 2009

What can a small business learn from a corporate anthropologist?

Have to say, I was intriqued as well. Dr. Andrea Simon is a corporate anthropologist with Simon Associates Management Consultants who is currently writing a book entitled "How You Get Stuck." Dr. Simon was recently interviewed by Karen E. Klein, an L.A.-based writer who covers small business issues and is the Smart Answers columnist for Business Week magazine.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs have always been known as risk-takers but even they get stuck and can't move forward to grow their businesses. Dr. Simon says that it always goes back to how the brain works. "The brain naturally fights change, our culture fights change plus most of us are not trained to work within a changing environment," she says.

Dr. Simon says that we have to replace our "no, but" responses with "yes, and," which is often easier said than done. She also says that clients often come to her when the "threesomes" hit -- they've lost a new biz pitch 3 times, or struck out some other way 3 times.

I wasn't able to find much in the way of articles written by Dr. Andrea Simon but I did find this blog post on Karen Klein's blog. The best piece of content is the Business Week blogcast that you MUST listen to if you are in business at all, large or small. Ms. Klein interviews Dr. Simon in about a 10-minute interview in which Dr. Simon suggests "shadowing your own clients as they can help improve your business." She also comments about how "flexibility is key for small businesses, but too often owners are slow to adapt." Simon has entrepreneurs shadow their clients and interview non-clients, in order to help them both face and implement change. "If you want change," she adds, "sometimes you have to create a crisis."

In my FastCoach practice, this is the biggest problem I'm uncovering right now. That while small businesses are set up to be nimble and flexible, business owners are just too slow to adapt. The same goes for freelancers or those people in career transition, spending tons of time looking for projects or jobs because they are resistant to change. It's because of exactly what Dr. Simon points out -- that change can be difficult because of how the brain often works for people due to our belief system that we've programmed into it. It makes us fight change rather than embrace it full on.

It's not that the brain is slow to think -- just the opposite. Most often entrepreneurs and small business owners are very fast thinkers, are highly successful and accomplish a great deal. But they can miss reaching a few rungs up the ladder of success when it is right in front of them! Because I possess both natural talent and experience in uncovering those things that get people stuck (and unstuck), my clients reach much higher levels faster than they would if they tried to move forward on their own.

When Dr. Simon's book is released, we'll post again but you really owe it to yourself to stop whatever you're doing right now and listen to the podcast. You are encouraged to take some notes while you listen and ponder what she said, and post a comment below or email me with your thoughts. If you've struck out 3 times or more, I'll be glad to start a dialogue with you on how we can together move your small business forward. Fast.
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