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Anna Kirah

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Senior Design Anthropologist

As a design and innovation anthropologist, Anna is passionate about creating meaningful, relevant and strategic solutions to the challenges facing companies today. She does this through understanding people’s motivations and aspirations. She then abstracts meaning and relevance and helps companies turn meaning in to value by meeting the articulated and unarticulated needs of their customers. Co-creation and People Centered Design are her trademarks.

As a design anthropologist and a psychologist, Anna is an expert in cutting edge qualitative research methods used to understand the articulated and unarticulated needs of people and to connect this understanding to the creation of meaningful, relevant, useful and desirable products, services and organizational change. Anna believes that focusing on meaning instead of technology will better equip the digital industries to provide value for the people they serve as well as for their companies.

Annas experience working for Boeing and for Microsoft has given her global recognition for her work in trends related to technology use, her people-centric approach, digital convergence, social media, and marketing and advertising in the age of turbulence.

Anna began her career as a Design Anthropologist when she was hired at Boeing, responsible for both quantitative and qualitative research for the pre-concept work for Boeing’s 787 “Dreamliner”. It was here she was able to test out her methods with pilots, passengers and crew onboard long haul flights . A typical day was to board a long haul flight and observe and talk with her informants. She became an expert on passenger experience both at airports and in the air. She noted that transition time was a specifically interesting area to focus on in order to find gaps in current designs of services. This came in handy when she was headhunted to become the first anthropologist hired at Microsoft.

Anna was headhunted to Microsoft in 1999 and was the first anthropologist in a company that was then over 70,000 employees. Anna was the Chief Design Anthropologist for Windows, MSN, Windows Live, mobile services, embedded software solutions and digital media. She was responsible for the development and implementation of REAL PEOPLE, REAL DATA, a global initiative built on ethnographic methods which brought user involvement to the forefront of technology design and development. Real People Real Data was the first people-centered design effort where services and products were actually made together with the end users who Anna emphatically calls people.

At Microsoft, Anna studied life stages around the world: from ghettos in South Africa and Brazil to the most developed homes in Korea, Dubai, Japan and Europe. Her work become so desired that Microsoft loaned her out as an advisor to numerous global companies including: L’Oreal, Ford Motors, Proctor & Gamble

I 2004, Anna was awarded Contributor of the Year at Microsoft for her strategic work which contributed to the development of both Windows XP and MSN (later Windows Live) in a complex system which involved people from all over the world, collaboration with Microsoft’s subsidiaries and other key stakeholders.
In 2006 she was awarded for her work in Geopolitical Strategy.
In 2010 she was named World Wide Community Subject Matter Expert for User Experience

While most Norwegians were born with skis on the feet, Anna was born with a plane ticket in her hand. Born in the United States, she grew up in Asia and moved over 20 times in her childhood. She came to Norway as a teenager and later became an anthropologist at the University of Oslo. She wrote and published two books during her studies on the Norwegian culture.

Anna is educated as a psychologist at the University of Washington, but her heart is in design anthropology and a people centered approach to just about anything. As an adult, she has lived in the United States, Norway, France and Denmark and she speaks fluent Norwegian and English and is sufficient in French, Chinese and Japanese.

She holds keynotes around the world on a variety of topics. In her spare time she is editing a book to be used in universities worldwide on the methodologies she has developed over the years: Working on the Edge – A tribute to those who have taught us wisdom. She also is an avid hunter of moose. Anna lives in Harestua, a village outside of Oslo.

Main Topics and qualifications

• Leading in times of turbulance
• Change agents and corporate rebels
• Design anthropology
• «People Centered» approach to innovation and organisational change
• Strategic Service Design
• What we need in the future
• Design Thinking and thought Leadership
• Trend Research
• Co-creation
• Workshop facilitation
• Positive Deviance
• Technology vs. humanity
• Avoiding the apocalypse
• What can we learn from a train service?
• A transdisciplinary approach to solving problems

This speaker has participated in our Podcast, Hjärntillskott with Lydia, feel free to come in and listen there! You can find the episode at the following link or wherever you listen to podcasts. https://podcasts.apple.com/se/podcast/anna-kirah-var-din-egen-aktivist/id1295633578?i=1000539175561

Please note that some or all text on this page has been translated from Swedish using an automatic translation service and may contain errors.