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Applied Anthropologist Spotlight – Elizabeth Briody at Cultural Keys LLC

Cultural Keys LLCCultural Keys LLC is a consultancy that I founded in 2009 to help firms and nonprofits understand and solve cultural-change and consumer issues.  We specialize in three work streams:  improving organizational culture, increasing partnership effectiveness, and understanding and reaching customers.

Cultural Keys uses an anthropological approach and a combination of techniques (e.g., observation, individual and group interviews, content analysis).  Key questions guiding our approach include:
•What makes a particular organization’s culture work well and what does not?
•What changes are necessary to improve overall performance?
•How might an organization’s culture transition to some new configuration so that it can be effective and successful in the future?

We typically work with members of the client organization to gather and validate data, and to produce actionable recommendations, implementation plans, and cultural-change tools.

Cultural Keys has helped clients in a variety of industries including medical, consumer-products, insurance, long-term-care, and food manufacturing.  We design projects around the issues that clients want to tackle.  Here are a few examples:

Improving patient hospital experiences:  A large southern U.S. hospital wanted to become more “patient-centric.”  I led a team of seven in conducting interviews and observations with hospital personnel and found that developing rapport with patients was not consistently a part of patient care.  Moreover, the hospital’s functional “silos” were barriers to collaboration and innovation.  Our team worked with hospital leaders to document and learn from two successful hospital innovations.  We developed and tested recommendations both from these initiatives, and from other lower-performing patient-care activities.  Finally, we produced 16 tools to help leaders problem solve effectively across silos, prioritize the patient experience, and reduce patient wait time.

Understanding and communicating an organization’s value:  The Board of Trustees of an assisted living and nursing care community wanted to be able to articulate its culture to prospective residents and their families.  Cultural Keys worked with anthropologist Sherri Briller (Purdue) to conduct interviews with residents, family members, staff, and volunteers.  The project resulted in rave reviews of the “Welcome Home” care philosophy, now a core part of marketing efforts.

Other Cultural Keys’ projects also pertain to organizational-culture change.  I worked with Pacific Ethnography headed by Ken Erickson (U of South Carolina) to interview customers, sales clerks, and employees of an intimate apparel firm.  Our recommendations focused on how to meet customer needs and increase sales by changing the mindset and structure of the firm.  Currently, I am working with a global food manufacturer to ease the transition for employees who were part of a recent acquisition.

I am fortunate to have some time to write up selected aspects of these consulting projects.  Some recent articles have appeared in the Journal of Business Anthropology as well as the International Journal of Business Anthropology.  Other examples appear in Transforming Culture: Creating and Sustaining Effective Organizations with Bob Trotter and Tracy Meerwarth (Palgrave, 2014), and The Cultural Dimension of Global Business with Gary Ferraro (7th ed., Pearson, 2013).

Elizabeth BriodyElizabeth K. Briody, Ph.D. is Founder and Principal of Cultural Keys LLC, a firm that helps companies and nonprofits understand and address organizational and cultural-change issues.  Briody has helped clients in many industries, including those at General Motors where she worked for 24 years.  She is currently a member of the AAA Executive Board and just completed her service as Chair of the AAA Working Group on Mentoring.

AAA Statement on Police Practices

AAA President Monica Heller releases public statement on police practices in the United States and calls upon anthropologists to help create equitable policing:

In the United States, too many black Americans are killed by officers of the law. As anthropologists, we must speak out whenever our common humanity gives way to discrimination, prejudice and violence. We must speak out whenever anyone acts in ways that accords the full rights of personhood to some but not all. In this case, these injustices are perpetrated by those who are trained to protect us all, requiring a radical re-examination of the processes and structures that produce these tragedies on a regular basis.

Anthropologists can, and do, contribute to this re-examination by showing how structural inequality makes racism and race-based violence commonplace, whether it is motivated by individuals’ conscious intent or not, and in particular how officers of the law come to perpetrate such violence. It is time now to join with others to undo that process. Because it stops today.

Over 300 Anthropologists Oppose a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Today’s guest blog post is written by AAA member, David M. Rosen (rosen@fdu.edu).

More than 300 anthropologists have now signed a statement strongly opposing efforts by the political organization Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) and it supporters within the American Anthropological Association to organize a boycott of Israeli academic institutions (http://anthroantiboycott.wordpress.com). The goal of the boycott is to sever all ties between members of the American Anthropological Association and Israeli anthropologists, many of whom are also members of the AAA. A boycott will severely damage professional anthropological life, scholarly interchange, free speech, and free association. The boycott effort damages the American Anthropological Association by giving a partisan political issue center stage at the annual meetings. Finally, a boycott will create a discriminatory and hostile environment against Israeli anthropologists and anthropologists working in Israel, and a rift with many members of the American Anthropological Association who refuse to become collaborators in this process.

Boycott supporters offer a strange and dangerous theory of vicarious complicity to bolster their arguments. Israeli academic institutions, they assert, must be punished because, as institutions, they have not adopted public positions against Israeli government actions and policies with respect to the occupation of Palestinian lands. But no such idea of second- hand complicity has ever been applied to any other academic institutions. Many BDS supporters themselves come from universities that never took official positions against the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Indeed, many come from state universities that were major recipients of defense funding at the time that thousands of innocents were killed by US forces. Furthermore, when the American Anthropological Association voted to boycott the state of Arizona over its immigration laws, it did not target Arizona public universities and our colleagues in Arizona because Arizona universities did not take a public stand against such laws. We did not treat such universities as complicit simply because they did not act against state government actions and continued to accept funding from the state of Arizona.

Indeed, many Israeli academics, in their work within and beyond the university, are leaders in advocating peace, non-violence and the end of the Occupation. Our unique skills as anthropologists lie in examining and challenging the taken-for-granted while suggesting new perspectives and previously unimagined ways to subvert the violence of the status quo. We urge all anthropologists to consider the manifold ways in which anthropology and anthropologists might move forward in the search for justice and in striving for peace in Israel/Palestine. Boycotting and demonizing Israeli academic institutions and our Israeli colleagues is not one of them, and is in fact, counterproductive. We urge our colleagues to join the thousands of others in organizations such as the American Association of University Professors and Modern Language Association in wholly rejecting boycotts of academic institutions. Such boycotts are subversions of the academic freedoms and values. necessary to the free flow of idea in the anthropological community. Anthropologists interested in signing this statement can go directly to the petition at http://anthroantiboycott.wordpress.com/sign-the-statement or forward an email with your name and academic affiliation to anthro.anti.boycott@gmail.com.

Format for December 4th Members’ Open Forum on Engagement with Israel and Palestine

Today’s guest blog post is written by Ed Liebow, Executive Director.

Last July’s Anthropology News mentioned a variety of ways in which AAA leadership is trying to foster dialogue and information exchange among AAA members on anthropologically relevant issues related to Israel/Palestine. We mentioned there that an Open Forum would be held at the Annual Meeting; it has now been scheduled for Thursday 4 December, from 13:00 to 14:15 in the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Ballroom Salon 2. Our goal is to facilitate dialogue among AAA Members, bringing to bear on the conversation the culture of inquiry and analytical skills characteristic of our profession.

The frame for the discussion is: what issues related to Israel/Palestine are relevant to us as anthropologists, as members of a scholarly association, and to the AAA as an association of anthropologists?

Here is what you can expect at the Open Forum. The hall will be arranged with a number of tables; the hall is large and we can accommodate many small groups. You will be encouraged to sit with people you do not already know well. There will be introductory remarks from Monica Heller, the AAA President, a brief update on the work of the AAA Task Force on Engagement on Issues related to Israel/Palestine by the Task Force chair, AAA Past-President Don Brenneis, and a short explanation of the forum’s format by our lead facilitator, Tarek Maassarani. The process will include an opening round to build trust and familiarity amongst participants; several discussion rounds with prompts to share what questions, knowledge, perspectives, and experiences participants bring to the table; and a reflective closing round to share insights and their relevance beyond this one event.

Participants will also be given index cards that they can place in feedback boxes as they leave the room. Facilitators will be asked to fill out a reflection form immediately following the dialogue to help us better understand what happened at each table. If there is time, we might be able to hear from some of the facilitators before we need to vacate the room. Since the objective at this stage is to foster dialogue among members, we will check badges at the entrance. Executive Board members, Task Force members, Section Assembly leadership and AAA staff will likely attend as observers. We will ask the press to respect our privacy during the Forum, though we are happy for participants to speak to the press (or blog or tweet) before and after the event. We are also open to considering further such events, whether open only to members or not.

Over 250 Anthropologists Join the Call for a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Today’s guest blog post is by AAA member, Lisa Rofel. Please direct your questions and/or inquiries to her via email: lrofel@ucsc.edu.

More than 250 anthropologists have signed a statement endorsing the burgeoning movement to boycott Israeli academic institutions in protest of Israel’s systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian people. These violations, in which many Israeli educational institutions are complicit, include denying Palestinians their right to education and academic freedom.

The full statement and signatory list are at http://anthroboycott.wordpress.com As scholars who specialize in how power, oppression, and structural violence affect social life, and as witnesses to the State of Israel’s multiple and egregious violations of international law that constitute an assault on Palestinian culture and society, they pledge to abide by their discipline’s stated commitment to “the promotion and protection of the right of people and people’s everywhere to the full realization of their
humanity.”

These anthropologists have determined that the policies, actions, and programs of Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the occupation and oppression of Palestinians in Israel and in the Occupied Territories in multiple ways. In calling for this institutional boycott, they pledge not to collaborate on projects and events hosted or funded by Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or attend conferences or other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel. They remain open to collaboration with individual scholars based in the Israeli academy.

The signatories of the statement call on their anthropologist colleagues to join them, along with thousands of members of a growing number of US academic associations (including the American Studies Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association), in answering the call from Palestinian civil society as well as from a number of Israeli anthropologists, to cease legitimizing Israeli academic institutions and thereby condoning their role in the continued suppression of the basic rights of the Palestinian people.

Anthropologists interested in signing this statement should visit: http://anthroboycott.wordpress.com, or email their name and affiliation to: anthroboycott@gmail.com

Annual Meeting Dialogue on Israel-Palestine

Today’s blog post is by AAA Executive Director Dr. Edward Liebow.

Because violence begets violence, I have recently been looking for a better way (without bullets) to say ‘there’s no silver bullet’ to acknowledge the palpable absence of any simple remedy to the intractable latest episode in a decades-long Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. Indeed, in recent days, hopeful glimmers of an extended cease-fire are clouded by escalating negotiation demands with toweringly high stakes. This concerns me as an individual, and also as AAA Executive Director at a moment when we are opening up dialogue on Israel/Palestine inside the association.

Indeed, here at the AAA office, summer is almost over, and our planning machine is already at full speed in advance of December’s Annual Meeting in Washington. The program is available online. Judging by recent blog posts and social media exchanges, this year’s Meeting is among the more eagerly anticipated in recent memory, in no small part due to the opportunities that have been created for a scholarly consideration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – although of course there are possibilities for discussion both before and after. Anthropologists will be tackling many of the world’s challenges at this year’s Meeting, so let me take this opportunity to provide you with more information about the events surrounding the Israel/Palestine conflict.113th AAA Annual Meeting

Paper presentations, roundtable discussions, and an open forum discussion will allow participants to unpack this conflict’s historical, cultural, and political-economic contexts, and also examine the advocacy role of scholarly societies like the AAA.

Thanks to the hard work of AAA members, the program chairs, the Executive Program Committee, and the AAA meetings and conference staff, we have aimed to make sure a wide range of perspectives will be represented in these events, which include:

For more information and session abstracts, log in to the meetings site. We invite healthy, respectful debate, and look forward to a deliberate, considered, and educational dialogue.

Haven’t registered for the 113th Annual Meeting yet? Register today! Will you be traveling from out of town? Save money by booking your hotel now at a discounted rate.

Opportunities at the Smithsonian

Katie Patschke - 2014 AAA Summer InternWorking for the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art has allowed me to expand my knowledge of African studies by exploring the occupations and roles that Africans take on in their day to day lives. I am currently finishing up my research on the project by conducting in depth searches on topics that need more extensive research. This week I am going to be creating a list of objects that will be displayed in the “Creativity of Work” exhibit. This is a big project and I am hoping to continue researching on the “Creativity of Work” project in the near future.

Katie Patschke - 2014 AAA Summer Intern Last week we had a very special event held at the National Museum of African Art. During the African Summit the African Art museum held a First Ladies brunch for the First Ladies of Africa. As an intern I was in charge of setting up the event by creating place cards and gift bags, organizing the seating arrangements and working with the First Ladies to get anything that they needed. The event was a great success. It was such an honor to meet such powerful, important women who are true inspirations in African countries.Katie Patsche - 2014 AAA Summer Intern

This weekend I had the opportunity to visit some great parts of DC such as the International Spy Museum, Meridian Park, and Georgetown. I have enjoyed my experience in DC and plan to move here after my schooling finishes up in December. I am so grateful for this opportunity and would recommend the experience to aspiring anthropology students.Katie Patschke - 2014 AAA Summer Intern

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