What are the Benefits of Ethnographic Thinking?

Ethnographic thinking can help any team or organization:

  • Break down silos;
  • Improve open communication and collaboration;
  • Increase flexibility;
  • Boost creativity and innovation.

This workshop focuses on developing four core attributes of ethnographic thinking: cultivating curiosity, deferring judgment, expanding awareness, and adapting thoughtfully. Participants learn to internalize these modes of thinking through interactive presentations and experiential learning exercises that help them develop an ethnographic mindset. All workshop content is focused on applying the benefits of ethnographic thinking to everyday work environments.

Why Ethnographic Thinking?

Ethnographers are trained to learn about other cultures and understand different worldviews by opening their minds and immersing themselves in unfamiliar ways of living. An ethnographic view of the world means always asking ‘why?,’ learning through empathy and active participation, and de-prioritizing egocentric thinking. In short, thinking like an ethnographer changes the way people think about themselves, the way they relate to others, and how they see the world around them.

When people learn to think like ethnographers they gain a set of very powerful skills. They learn that:

  • Curiosity has cumulative value by exposing the mind to more ideas over time, discovering connections between those ideas, and building new ideas inspired by those connections.
  • Deferring judgement increases opportunities for innovation by integrating other ways of thinking, and escaping the limitations of presumptions and biases.
  • Expanding awareness reveals unrecognized cultural rules that drive behaviors by opening up the senses to the unfamiliar and the unstated.
  • Thoughtful adaptation makes learning from failure easier by developing a flexible mindset and reframing risk.

Once internalized, ethnographic thinking broadens perspectives, creates new opportunities to transfer learnings between different points of view, increases the number of possibilities for generating new ideas, and improves holistic thinking.

Who Should Attend?

Any person, team, or organization that needs to break out of a restrictive or reductive mindset and transform their ways of working and thinking to stimulate creativity and innovation.

What’s the Schedule?

This workshop consists of four sessions. Duration, timing, and content can be tailored to the specific needs of large groups with common professional backgrounds or teams within companies or organizations.




  • Let’s Get Small: The Benefits of Naiveté and Thinking Like a Child
  • A Parallel Universe: Rethinking the Familiar

Field Exercise:

  • Shadow a Friend
  • Share-out, Challenges, Reflections

Applications to Daily Work Practices:

  • Forming a Curious Habit: Thinking Outside of Professional Paradigms
  • Increasing the Odds: Discovering Unexpected Opportunities




  • It’s Not All About You: Understanding Cultural Logics
  • What is Common Sense, Exactly?: Battling the Myth of Intuition

Field Exercise

  • Befriend a Stranger
  • Share-out, Challenges, Reflections

Applications to Daily Work Practices:

  • Empiricism and Meaning: Building Interpretive Skills
  • Burrs Under the Saddle: Challenging Judgments & Assumptions




  • You Really Shouldn’t: The ‘Sayable’ and the ‘Unsayable’
  • Outta Sight: Reading Social Scripts

Field Exercise:

  • Modified Derivé
  • Share-out, Challenges, Reflections

Applications to Daily Work Practices:

  • Synesthesia: Improving Peripheral Awareness
  • Not Really that Scary: Navigating Unfamiliar Settings




  • Far Out: Appreciating the Unexpected
  • Not Home, Not Work: Serendipity and Spaces Between


  • Discovering and Appreciating Other Logics
  • Share-out, Challenges, Reflections

Applications to Daily Work Practices:

  • You Failed…Next?: Incremental Risk and Learning from Small Failures
  • The Restaurant at the Edge of the Universe: Embracing Ambiguity


What are the Details?

Pricing is per seat and varies depending on location, venue, and other factors. Feel free to get in touch with any questions by using our contact form.