Learning from apes

Guestblogger Marina Gorbis is executive director at Institute for the Future.

Whenever you are tempted to feel superior about our unique status as humans in the animal kingdom and our extraordinary achievements in building a sophisticated civilization, it is worth reading Frans De Waal, a Dutch primatologist who has studied apes for almost 40 years. Several years ago when I picked up his book "Our Inner Ape," it quickly occurred to me that this is probably one of the best management books I've ever read. (OK, so I don't like management books). Behaviors that we, humans, embellish with complex rationalizations and justifications, De Waal was able to observe with clarity among his subjects, apes. Making alliances to achieve power, engaging in acts of reciprocity to build and maintain social capital, puffing up to threaten the opponent and scare enemies — so ape and so human at the same time. So if you are looking for an entertaining, yet humbling experience, above is De Waal's speech from 2004 at Pop!Tech.