Anna Kirah, Design Anthropologist: on transdisciplinarity (anthropology /psychology/design) and building the new; 3 techniques to practice empathy – The Human Show Podcast 35




Anna Kirah is an internationally respected design anthropologist and psychologist known for pioneering the people-centric approach to innovation and change management. Her passions are co-creation and working with “transdisciplinary” teams.

Anna believes that creating meaningful, relevant, desirable and sustainable products, services and organizational changes happen only by understanding people’s motivations and aspirations and utilizing this knowledge to solve challenges together with the people we serve.

Anna returned to Norway in 2010 where she has her own consultancy, teaches at the Oslo Metropolitan University and until recently was the Managing Director of Design without Borders (she still maintains her board status for DwB).  She is also a Specialist in the Design Consultancy: Halogen situated in Oslo, Norway.

In today’s episode we talk to Anna about her career path from anthropology to psychology to design; about transdisciplinarity, what each of these disciplines can give each other and the potential they have to create together; how she transitioned to design and reclaimed the title of anthropologist.

We talk about her experience entering the corporate sector with Boeing as a psychologist and exiting as a design anthropologist; what businesses appreciate in anthropology and why it’s important to have a social scientist on board. Lastly, she shares three techniques she teaches designers to practice empathy and active listening in order to break their own assumptions. These techniques come from different disciplines including psychology and the role of the clinician but somewhere along the way she was introduced to Colombo as a way to describe the “Help me understand…” technique.

Anna Kirah – Linked In

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Mentioned in Podcast:

Oslo Metropolitan University: Department of Product Design
Design without Borders
Avoiding the apocalypse: A design anthropological perspective on reflected change

Anna’s work:

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