Optimistic Anthropology works with individuals, organizations and cross-sector collaborations to understand how today's reality came to be, unleash new mindsets and possibilities, and design effective strategies to address existing problems in order to create a brighter future for all people. We do this work through:



The Neighbors, Washington, DC

We conduct qualitative research to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, perspectives, motivations, norms, stories, histories, and cultures. Qualitative research can provide insights into how today's reality came to be, how things are working (or aren't), and how people are impacted by the problems that you are trying to solve. It also provides the chance to learn about a range of perceptions, existing concerns, and emerging ideas and opportunities.  The "ground truth" which is gathered through qualitative research provides a basis for developing strategies to move your work forward, even when the challenges are complex, and the context is ambiguous.

Adaptive Strategies

Subway Station, Brooklyn, New York

Most social, economic, and environmental problems are complex -- meaning that many individuals, organizations, policies, practices, and behaviors have contributed to their existence.  It also means that you can rarely do just one thing to fix them, and even if you can, it's virtually impossible to know what that one thing would be in advance.  Which is why learning can be such a powerful form of strategy development.  We help your team develop its processes, strategies, and culture so that you can  learn and adapt in real-time, navigate ambiguity and complexity, and achieve your desired outcomes.

Leadership Development

Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy

Our favorite definition of leadership is "a practice of change at the pace which people can stand."  We believe that every person has the ability to develop and practice leadership.  As such, we design, curate, and facilitate interactive leadership development experiences to build your team's toolbox of methodologies, sense of possibility, and can-do spirit.

sabbatical design

View from the Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

In addition to the work that Optimistic Anthropology does with organizations and collaborations, we believe that individuals are best able to shape a more positive world when what they do is aligned with who they are.  We define a "sabbatical” as a period of dedicated time when an individual can engage in an intentional practice of reflecting on key questions they have about their life and how they want to use the answers they discover to align who they are with what they do.

We offer Sabbatical Design Services because we know, firsthand, that intentionally designed periods of reflection, exploration, and learning enable individuals to recognize and be energized by their gifts and values, and think differently about how they can use them to shape a more positive world.  Learn more about our services and writing about sabbaticals.


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