Futurist Mike Walsh on Innovating Like an Anthropologist

Rather than giving people lots of surveys, asking them whether they like the food you were serving, just look at what they’re eating. Look at where they’re hanging out. What are people doing? Give somebody the job of keeping a diary during the meeting, just following people around.

Where are they hanging out? What are some weird problems? Like when you go to a tech conference – the first thing that everyone is fighting over is electricity plugs.

Look at what people do. Then, rather than fighting their behavior, the second step is to [ask yourself,] if my attendee is in charge of innovation, how can I let them lead me to make this a better event? The key is don’t do a focus group. Don’t do a survey. Just observe.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor of Convene.