What’s different about this team building approach?

A lot of team building workshops feel like a temporary escape from the workplace, after which everyone returns to the same old grind. But team building that lasts is about more than tug-of-war and trust falls. Fundamentally, it’s about culture—understanding it, gaining insight into how we’re each shaped by it, and learning how we can change it over time.

Improving group dynamics requires ongoing attention to interactions in their cultural contexts, and learning how to relate to each other differently based on that knowledge. This workshop will help your team focus on its culture, to identify your core shared values, and design a set of interaction principles to guide your work.

How can my team benefit from Ethnographic Thinking?

For over 100 years, ethnographers have been building rapport through empathy so they can understand people from different cultures. Their methods have been proven particularly useful for gaining a deep understanding of shared values, behaviors, norms, and motivations as expressed through people’s everyday interactions.

By learning some of the same methods ethnographers use—and applying them to your team—you will learn to see the world (and the workplace) from different perspectives—to better understand your team mates’ motivations, personal logics, needs, values, and emotions. From this deeper understanding, you can better empathize with one another, appreciate one another within cultural contexts, and discover more productive ways to interact.

Who Should Attend?

Any team that needs to:

  • build trust and reduce unnecessary conflict;
  • increase organizational buy-in;
  • break out of a silo-ed, constrained, or reductive mindsets;
  • identify shared values and goals;
  • overcome biases and assumptions;
  • reshape daily interactions to forge new alliances;
  • disrupt rote processes and unchallenged orthodoxies;
  • understand the motivations and worldviews that drive behaviors.

How does it work?

“After years of taking clients into the field and witnessing how ethnographic thinking transforms how they see others, I developed this workshop to help teams tap this shift in thinking, and use it to build lasting collaborations and more productive outcomes within their own workplace cultures.” —Jay Hasbrouck, Ph.D.

In the workshop, teams practice ethnographic methods such as observation, shadowing, and interviewing to help them internalize four core qualities of ethnographic thinking that are most useful for improving team dynamics (see below). Each field practice is followed by exercises designed to interpret and apply what teams have learned.

  • CULTIVATING CURIOSITY—When curiosity becomes an inherent part of a team’s thinking, everyone is continually exposed to more and more ideas from many different perspectives. Over time, a genuinely curious team will begin to discover new and unexpected connections between different ideas, and build even better ideas inspired by those connections. A team culture that honors and rewards curiosity (both about the world around them, as well as each other) is able to break through rote processes, engage in more creative problem solving, and collectively build positive momentum in their work.
  • DEFERRING JUDGEMENT—By deferring judgement and integrating unfamiliar (and even uncomfortable) modes of thinking into their work, teams can escape the limitations of assumptions and organizational biases. They’re also able to cross-pollinate the most useful ideas between differing viewpoints by emphasizing alignments, constructing empirically-grounded positions, and dislodging organizational biases. This leads to more productive debates and more respectful interactions.
  • EXPANDING AWARENESS—By expanding awareness and opening up the senses to the unfamiliar, teams can spot unstated social cues and decipher the invisible cultural rules that drive behaviors. This allows them to better empathize with others by positioning their actions within cultural contexts. Understanding this context and how it shapes the worldview of others (both on the team and outside of it) can set the foundation for identifying shared values that resonate for everyone. The resulting familiarity and sense of common purpose helps builds trust and can pave the way for better collaboration.
  • LISTENING DEEPLY—By listening deeply to one another, teams can better understand what their teammates are saying beyond the words they share. It provides a channel for interpreting what other factors are influencing how they express themselves (e.g., the things they value, who influences them, what motivates them, what touches them emotionally). Learning to read the nonverbal cues people send while they converse, and interpreting the layers within them, helps teams learn to understand difference and form bonds of mutual respect.

What’s the Schedule?

This workshop can be structured as a retreat (three sessions over three days) or as a course (four sessions, one per week, over the course of a month). Each session lasts approximately six hours. Location and content can be tailored to the specific needs of each team or cohort—please get in touch to discuss your needs).

What other details should I know?

The workshop is led by applied anthropologist Jay Hasbrouck, Ph.D., author of the book Ethnographic Thinking: From Method to Mindset, assisted by a staff of highly experienced professionals.

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

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a methods workshop, although research teams will find that developing their skills in ethnographic thinking is useful for their work as well. If you’re looking for training focused more specifically on ethnographic methods, please visit this page.