It’s the little things… an anthropological view of learning

Of the Learning Personas we have look at so far while reading Kelley’s The Ten Faces of Innovation (2005) I see the Anthropologist as the most identifiable to the way I learn. I studied anthropology in undergrad so I no doubt that I adopted some of the traits. What Kelley (2005) discusses regarding the Anthropologist learning persona is a penchant for human extremes, whereas they do not get stuck in a routine. I feel that this is why I have remained in retail for so long. This environment is never the same from day to day, with a lot of opportunity to collect fresh and insightful observations of other humans. Let me tell you, we get some doosies at Whole Foods, but that’s a story for another time. These insightful observations lend themselves to noticing the small things like regular customers, and their buying patterns. This has allowed for more pleasant interactions with our customer base. There are also plenty of chances to observe instant behaviors and react to them.

A good example of this is one that some of you may not believe. One of our regular customers is a retired actress who was in a movie with Alicia Silverstone and a young Paul Rudd. She comes in with her daughter who is around toddler age about twice a month. We use to have these shopping baskets that rolled, we all hated them because they were big and bulky, but this customer daughter loved them. Well we have since stopped letting customers use them for reasons that were not really explained to me. Well, today she in in her daughter went to the baskets wanting to get the rolling cart and was trying to pick up one of the other baskets, which she certainly was too small to carry. I noticed this and knew we had the rolling basket tucked away, so I got one for her. I actually didn’t even realized who the customer was until someone pointed it out to me, I just observed the behavior of the child and then notice the mother who was explaining that we didn’t have the rolling baskets anymore and wanted to prevent a child from having a meltdown. I later checked up on them and she was pushing the basket along a putting things like string cheese and strawberries in it. That was quite a nice feeling.

I also see myself as a caregiver at this point in my time at Whole Foods. I have a instinct to help my team members as much as I can, though I may not have “great beside manner” that Kelley talks about but my straight-forward approach has earned the trust of the team I work on. I do tend to notice the Experience Architect in myself as well as in a few of my colleagues, as we tend to look at the bigger picture. Admittedly, I am less adept at this than others. I still focus too much on a small observances but I can take in the bigger goal from time to time.

Kelley, T. (2005). The ten faces of innovation. New York: Doubleday.


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