Human behaviours and communities

– Good morning, everybody. Thank you for the invitation to be in here talking about communities which is topic that is well studied from anthropology. So, I’m not an editor,
I’m not a publisher, I’m not a writer, I’m an
anthropologist, as Peter said. So, when I say I’m an anthropologist, many times people imagine me
doing something like this. Right, traveling to very exotic places and sitting with lost tribes, trying to understand their cultures. It actually what I do
is not that different, but I don’t study, I don’t need to go to Africa or Latin America,
I study people like us, people like you. And mostly I study consumers, and I share later their
experiences and their stories with the businesses. So we can improve the customer experience. So, as Peter said, we
found an Antropologia 2.0, which is the first business
anthropology agency in Spain. And just a few examples,
here we are studying home buying experience in United States, and how real estate culture is changing. Or IKEA experience, the
shopping experience in IKEA, or music festivals and the food
selection that people have. So, we bring the people’s
stories into the company, the voices of the people. And anthropologists,
we love to use stories and history as well, ’cause
we think we can learn a lot about history, right, from
the past and the present. We can better anticipate the
future as well, to be prepared. And as companies and businesses
it’s a very important thing. So I wanted to start with
a short story or history about the concept of community. The concept of community has
not always meant the same, has not always even been positive. Right now mostly when we
think about communities, we see it as a positive thing. But that has not always been the case. So, let me quickly do this walk-through through this concept. So, humans have always
lived in communities. We are social animals,
and we cannot live alone. Everything of humankind,
how they progress, has been built through communities. The very first types of communities were based around kinship,
family-based. These are simple type of communities. These are what anthropologists
call clan, it’s a clan. Very basic in many ways, few roles, etc. When these families start growing, so there’s extended family,
there’s new members, etc., etc., groups of clans create a tribe. And tribes tend to be place-based. They’re based in the territory. So you can use these concepts to just start ideating the different ways in which you can conceptualize communities and think on creating communities. So also nowadays there’s a lot of territorially based communities. You can think maybe on your
neighborhood community. You don’t necessarily choose the people, you choose the place
where you want to live, and therefore you end up building
a community there. So these types of communities
based on territory have last for very, very, very long. And of course it had its limits. People before did not move
around, travel so much. And they were unknown, like, for example, many people spoke different
types of Spanishes back then, or different types of French,
or different types of English, which made it that
people, when they talked, sometimes they could not even
understand each other. And if you cannot understand each other, you cannot build a community. So, what changed that is
something from your sector, was the print, the printer. The printer did that suddenly these people who spoke different types of Englishes, or different types of
French, and were, you know, not able to understand each other talking, suddenly they can understand each other by reading each other. And suddenly they become aware that there’s this bigger
collective, amount of humans that are thinking and communicating
in their same language. And that gave a broader sense of community that went beyond territory. And it’s what some called the imagined communities, like nations. And they’re imagined
because, for instance, I’m Spanish, so I feel like I’m part of the Spanish community. And at the same time, I’m never gonna meet the 40 million people
that live in Spain. So, I don’t need to have the interaction to feel part of that community. Community has also been in the political-philosophical field. And so, it has different, in each country it had different moments. For this concept rose and decreased, but this is important to understand that it was not always positive. And many times when there was
a concept used in politics, it was seen as more of a negative concept. And then, it was with
the first encyclopedia in the 18th century. When we start talking about
communities around practices. And Diderot described
communities as those in a group that share a same art or profession. So they were talking
about the guilds. So, it’s important to think
about communities also as communities of practice. People who like, well, they’ve talked about sharing a passion, but a passion for doing certain things. And then, I know Peter
mentioned that he thinks that communities are not
built around products, but I think products can be the excuse to build communities sometimes. And I brought this
example, which is the Kula. Kula is a ritual in the Pacific Islands. They have a certain amount of jewelries, like necklaces made with beads, etc. And which have a sacred
value, these products. And inhabitants from one
island have these necklaces, and when they have them,
there’s like a certain pride. It’s a level of high status
just to have those beads in their property. But what’s fascinating about the Kula, is that the important thing
is not just to have them, but it’s to share them. So, every now and then, the
community gets in a boat, travels to another island,
and offers these products to another community in another island. Of course, then is their time, they have the social status, etc. And then, over the time, this
other group of inhabitants travels to another island and
offers it to another people. This product, the necklaces, is an excuse to build this community
around all those islands. And of course it’s just an excuse to actually start business,
start exchanging other products, exchanging culture, etc. But initially, it’s all
built around the product. So, there is also communities
that are product-based. We could say. And then, with internet,
well, communities have become a whole different thing. I brought this image, because
I think it’s very good to describe how communities
work in a sense. This is when we analyze, we
did digital anthropology, and we started analyzing, for
example, this is from Twitter. We were understanding
how different followers of different Twitter accounts were interacting with each other. And as you see, each color
represents a small community. And the smaller circles
are the members, the people who are interacting in those communities. So I want you to keep in mind this image, because do you see some little circles are, like, not touching anyone else? And then, there’s other little
circles, which are people. They’re connected to
more than one community, to more than one group. These are the types of
individuals, of people, you want to be paying attention, when you’re building communities. Because they’re able to
spread out a lot faster the types of values and ideas or products that you want to share. ‘Cause they want only, they
won’t stay in one community. They are leaders, are
capable of influencing a lot of different groups. Internet, it’s fascinating for
the creation of communities, of course, and with the rise of concepts like community manager,
which maybe before it wasn’t, you know, something that people would say. “I’m a community manager.” And it helped people build communities that before were very different, were difficult for them
to find a community. So people that have passions, but for things that are kinda
rare, let’s say, you know. So, this is also good
business opportunities, because they represent what people call the Blue Oceans. These are consumers that
don’t have many offers for their types of passions, so just a couple of strange ones. There’s a big community
of elevator lovers, I don’t know if you know it, out there. These are not necessarily technicians, they are not necessarily people
in the sector of elevators, but they just, for some reason, have a passion for elevators, and through internet found
a platform, a channel in which to exchange their
pictures and their comments about the elevators they ride on. Another peculiar community. They’re called the Bronies. And these are adult men
who love My Little Pony. And this is real, a
fact, you can look it up. Again, like Peter showed us,
they found them in internet, they found themselves in internet, and started relating
there, but what’s important is that they went on offline as well. And they started creating events, and they started actually
doing the one-on-one, personal, human contacts. So why did I show you all
of these different types of understanding communities
and different perspectives? Well, ’cause I knew that
we were going to be talking about three Cs. Consumer, content and collaboration. And I wanted to add another C, which for me is very important,
as an anthropologist, I think we always have
to consider the context. Context is everything. Context can change dramatically when something like a sign you do, depending on where you
are or what times it is. So, just as we’re seeing the concept of community has changed, I want you to bear in
mind when you’re working in these next two days and in the future. When you’re thinking of
building communities, you have to think on what
context are we inhabiting, and how does that influence
the type of communities we want to build. So, briefly maybe sharing
some ideas of the context that we live in nowadays. And maybe some of you
know already this concept. They say we live in VUCA. I don’t know if you’ve heard that before. This is a concept that actually
comes from the US Army, but now it’s spread and used in a lot of different environments. And what this means is that we
live in a time of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. We need to have this in mind, when we’re creating communities. Things are not as they used to be before. Things are not rigid,
they’re not permanent. They’re in continuous change. Also, like Zygmunt, the philosopher also called it liquid times. Maybe that resonates more to you, which means we always have to
be in a very flexible posture, always in constant change and listening to what’s happening out there,
listening to the consumers, being in touch with them. We cannot just try to build
something and leave it and go. It’s permanently being created, okay? So, how does this affect your consumers? As I said, we have to
avoid rigid structures. And this is how structures
have traditionally been. Most of the last decades,
almost a century, this structure maybe resonates
with you for something. Maybe makes you think of how
your classroom was organized when you were studying at school. Or maybe it looks like your
business organic grammar, your know? These types of structures
are no longer going to exist, people actually behave more like this. People come, go, are moving, are interacted in more than one ways, not just in linear directions. But actually people are more like this. This is where we’re going. So, people want to be interconnected. They don’t want hierarchy of structures. Also, Peter was saying, people
don’t want the companies to be telling them what to
do, they trust each other. They want this peer-to-peer review. They want to listen to others like them. So, start thinking on how
we can develop communities in this way. And, of course, also both
presenters before me, they’ve been talking a
lot about the people. So we have to start with the people. And yes, we always say that to, when I’m working with my
clients, and I tell them, “Start with the people,
think on the people”. And many times they think
on people like this. (laughs) Right? And so, for me, you know, I
visit a lot of people’s houses, that’s what I do, so this image just feels kind of uncomfortable. There’s a lot of things
there that is like, something’s wrong there. (chuckles) Like, first of all, what
house do you go to nowadays that there’s four people
from two different generations happily watching the same content? (audience laughing) No, not happening. Second, whoever has children knows that you don’t have little
children and white sofa with, you know, no spillings, popcorn, nobody even
digged into the popcorn. What’s going on there? Yeah, this is not real people. So, if we want to build communities, if we want to satisfy our consumers, we have to start looking at real people. So, actually, this is a bit more what people lool like. Increasingly, the house style that is
growing faster, is of, single people living alone. That’s what’s growing faster. So, that’s also an interesting insight. We’re thinking about building communities. We know we live in this
online, internet world, where everybody can be connected, yet, we’re increasingly being unconnected, unplugged and living alone in
big apartments in big cities. There’s a lot of clutter in most of people’s actual real life. There’s complexity,
there’s mess, you know, things are not clean, things are not easy. So, yeah, we have to start thinking on the actual real people. And if we don’t, we’ll be making
big mistakes as companies. There’s a lot of examples. I like to quickly mention one. And it’s the Nokia case. So, many of you probably remember that Nokia was leader in the
market in phones back then. And they had an ethnographer
who was doing research in China at the time. Her name is Tricia Wang. And she told Nokia, “Listen,
you’re not getting this right. “You’re thinking on high-class people, “who have a lot of money, like executives. “You’re making the phones for them, “but actually real people
in the emerging markets, “in China, in India, they’re
willing to, you know, “have to pay their phone
in a year or two years, “but they all want to have a smartphone.” This was, you know, back in 2009, I think. And Nokia was like, “No, no, “our big data does not show that. “You know, we are all over revenue.” Their big revenue comes
from selling these phones to executives, etc. So, they were not looking
at actually the big amount, the big mass of real people,
not just a small elite group. And so, well, the rest is history. Nobody knows anything about
Nokia’s phones anymore. So, also, taking advantage of this image, I would like to also point out that when you build
communities around a brand, or around a product, it’s not just to use the brand or the product, it’s just an excuse to add
all other cultural elements. That’s what actually
sticks people together. So, for example, think about Apple. You know, there’s the
Apple community. Many of you probably have
an iPhone in your pockets. Many of you maybe are,
you know, Mac Defenders from some time back. But being a Apple lover, or being part of the Apple community, does not imply only to have
an iPhone on your phone. It implies that you have
a certain shared beliefs, such as Apple products don’t have viruses. You share certain values, like preference for
quality and innovation. You share some practices, such
as going to the Apple Store, being aware of the new product. You share some tastes
like aesthetics taste. Like for minimalism design, etc. So, it’s all these other shared
beliefs, practices, values that actually create the community. You’re actually building a culture, much more than just a phone or a brand. So, just to sum up. Some of the ideas that I want
you to take for the next days. When you have a challenge in your company, try to switch your business
questions to human questions. And that will give you another look into what you’re trying to solve. So, for instance, the challenge that we’re tackling here these days, if we want to think maybe on
how can we sell more books, let’s start by thinking how
are people learning nowadays. Where are people looking
for the information? Or why do people that buy
books, buy books nowadays? Let’s start with those type of questions. Let’s avoid the top-down strategies. As I showed before, the
network kind of siloed format, let’s try to go through this
type of multidirectional, interconnected relationships. Consider the context always. Context where you’re building a community, a context where you want to
spread it, what it means there. Consider the personal goals, but also consider the shared goals, which means yes, to build
the community you need people that are sharing some goals. So that could be avoiding
pollution in the planet, could be. But there’s also personal goals. For people to actually get
involved in that community, they have to have a
personal goal to be there. And it could be anything. It can be you’re new in the
city, so you want to socialize and meet new people, so
you join a community. It can be a need for recognition. It can be you want to
expand your business. But you have to consider
those two elements, not only the group goals. And last, I would like all of
you to sometimes remember me and feel a little bit
like an anthropologist. Look at people, explore,
ask them questions. People love to talk. People love to be asked, actually. Ask them questions and think
of them kind of as tribes. Think of them in a holistic point of view. Think about their values,
think about their beliefs, the type of relationships they build. Think about all these elements, and how they affect the
way we live in community as tribes that we are. Thank you very much. (audience applauding)

Comments 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *