Mara Spruyt 2

Mara Spruyt


Netherlands

Seeing the ‘whole picture’ by using a variety of impressions


What fascinates me as an organisational anthropologist is the way in which people in organisations manage to shape their work and their surroundings. To get to know an organisation, I use all of my senses. What does a building tell me? How do people dress? What does it feel like in an organisation? What language do people speak? These different types of impressions help me to gather a rich picture of people and organisations. I like to approach things from different perspectives. Gather a variety of impressions.

 

People shape their contexts and context influences people...

My natural tendency is to constantly consider the interaction between people and their surroundings; I like to see things in the context of their entirety. People shape their environment, but in turn, they are also influenced by it. This interplay fascinates me. Digging beneath the surface is needed to understand this dynamic. I find it very important to start as open-minded as possible. And ask people for their convictions, perceptions and interests (rather than assume them). This is a very strong vantage point for making contact with people and the work that they do.

 

Research as an intervention

My heart lies at researching and investigating; this is how I prefer to gain insights, constantly observing with an inquiring mind and postponing personal judgement. I am intrigued by the question of how we can do research in an unconventional, appealing matter. By, for example, presenting the results of an investigation in the way of a ‘live’ interview, rather than a powerpoint presentation or a report. As a researcher I am then being interviewed whilst the members of the organisation are seated around me. We construct the story together.

As a researcher and consultant, I do not only seek to register, I also want to facilitate the learning. Research, to me, can be considered a very powerful learning intervention. By asking questions and giving back what you observe, one contributes to the process of understanding, and of making implicit knowledge more explicit. Which often is a vital step in any work based learning process.

 

Make the implicit, explicit

I enjoy the process of making experimental knowledge explicit, in a comprehensive, attractive way.  Using words and images. The interaction with others is key in this process. I believe interaction is crucial when sharing knowledge and perceptions. It is a prerequisite for sustainable growth and development.