Ethnographic Opportunity Analysis

Yesterday, I gave a presentation about TheAnthroGuys‘ core competency: Analytic Induction that gets practiced in search of opportunities to “add value“.

This is a rather clunky way to express what we do but we are still sharpening our ‘laser focus’ so bear with us.  Once we reach Gladwell’s 10,000 hours, I’m sure it will sound better.

Ethnographers and entrepreneurs share a reliance on inductive skills to accomplish their goals.  Once this is understood, we can learn a great deal from each other.

The presentation can be found here:

Ethnographic opportunity analysis sp16 part1(mullooly) from James Mullooly PhD

In a few weeks, I will return to their class to continue this discussion.  My hope is that some – if not all – of these students will see the value of this skill set.


Elsewhere, we have observed that our world is utterly overshadowed by ignorance, yet few people notice this.  Ethnographers and entrepreneurs share a reliance on inductive skills to accomplish their goals.  Once this is understood, we can learn a great deal from each other.

It is important to note that the similarities between anthropologists and entrepreneurs are numerous. The table below illustrates this point:

Anthropologists   Entrepreneurs Application
Trained to think holistically Intuitively holistic visionary, iconoclastic
Take an evolutionary approach Forward-looking know future demands
Seek the insider perspective Intuitively know consumers wants know when something will have value to others
Trained to be inductive Intuitively inductive keen observers, see openings

Other helpful guides include:

Read this article from The Atlantic entitle, “Anthropology Inc.”.

Or, Watch the clip that was attached to the above article from The Atlantic.

-Check out: “A Crash Course on Creativity” (Tina Seelig, Executive Director, Stanford Technology Ventures Program)

-View the following 3 min video entitled: Field Observation with Fresh Eyes by Tom Kelley | IDEO

-View the following 4 min video entitled: Thinking Like a Traveler by Tom Kelley | IDEO

-Read: “Can’t You Just Ask People?” (Delcore)

-Watch: Parc’s use of these techniques.

-Define: The notion of “workarounds”

-Define: Ethnography


The directions for the Assignment are in the presentation slides.


I have included how the assignments are evaluated but the the main point is that this is NOT rocket science. Rather , it’s social science!  Applied systematically, humans’ natural observational skills can notice things that are typically ignored.  With some analysis, suggestions can be made to improve lives, products, profit margins, whatever.

If you have further questions about the assignment or the course, feel free to contact me.

Note, the following table is used to evaluate these assignments.

LINK TO Ethnographic Opportunity Analysis Assignment Rubric

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