Video from UX Lisbon: Discover and act on insights about people
December 20th, 2012
The lovely folks at UXLx have just posted the video from my talk earlier this year, Discover and act on insights about people.
Some of the most effective ways of understanding what customers want or need – going out and talking to them – are surprisingly indirect. Insights produced by these methods impact two facets of innovation: first as information that informs the development of new products and services, and second as catalysts for internal change. Steve discusses methods for exploring both solutions and needs and explores how an understanding of culture (yours and your customers) can drive design and innovation.
If you don’t see the video embedded above, you can view it here
Vote for Steve’s SXSW proposal: “The Power of Bad Ideas”
August 22nd, 2012
I’ve got a proposal in for next year’s SXSW conference. The talk I’m planning to do is entitled “The Power of Bad Ideas”
In business and in life, we pursue the good stuff and champion people who are known for their good ideas. But when we place too strong an emphasis on just the good, we may neglect to consider the bad ones. In design and in brainstorming, deliberately seeking out bad ideas is a powerful way to unlock creativity. Generating bad ideas can reveal our assumptions about the difference between bad and good, and often seemingly bad ideas turn out to be good ones. Jotly and Cow Clicker were jokes/parodies (e.g., not good ideas) that have been surprisingly successful. Neil Young and Crazy Horse have covered folk songs. An action blockbuster features a US president swinging a silver axe against vampires. In this talk, I’ll explore how opening up the bad idea valve can lead unexpectedly to the kind of success we aim for with our good ideas.
This talk picks up where my Core77 article and some recent blog posts (here, here) left off. I’m looking forward to developing the material further and talking it through live.
Part of the consideration that SXSW uses in sorting out their 3200 proposals is voting. I’d really appreciate your help: check out the page for the talk, add any comments, questions, or words of encouragement, and vote “thumbs up” (you’ll have to sign in or create an account if you don’t have one).
Thanks for your help!
Slides from yesterday’s talk on Improv, Creativity and Design
June 21st, 2012
Last night I spoke at the ACM Bay Area chapter’s monthly event. My talk was Yes, My Iguana Loves to Cha-Cha: Improv, Creativity and Design, another iteration of a talk I’ve been giving since 2005. For me, the topic continues to evolve and inspire and each time I talk to a group about this, some new things emerge. Last night, I talked (albeit briefly) about the power of Yes. In improv, we hear a lot about “Yes, and…” which is really an alternative to saying “no.” In “Yes, and…” you accept an idea and then add your own. But I really got to thinking about the fundamental reframe being about empowering ourselves to say Yes. The “and…” is about putting yourself back into it, but I thought there was something to focusing for a moment on the core idea of responding to things with yes. A few years ago we led an ideation training workshop and at the end we had everyone line up and one at a time come to the front and say something that they had learned, while everyone in the room responded with “Yes!” While it had a bit of a revival meeting about it, it was an interesting exercise. My challenge to the folks last night (a mix of old-skool Silicon Valley types and people in my network, all of whom jumped into the games and exercise) was to try responding yes in a situation where you might typically respond no. It’s a challenge I’ll have to take on myself as well.
The slides are below:
Steve speaking locally, about improv, design, and creativity
June 11th, 2012
I am frequently asked when I’m doing a public talk in the SF Bay Area, and now I can answer: next week!
I’m giving my popular talk Yes, My Iguana Loves to Cha-Cha in Cupertino on Wednesday, June 20th, at 6:30. This talk, about improv, creativity, and design, is something I’ve revisited and revised for a number of years. As the talk has evolved, I’ve presented it at CHIFOO, Puget Sound SIGCHI, IxDA New York (slides, video), IDSA’s Southern Conference, IDSA/ICSID World Design Congress, IDSA 2009, and DUX05.
Read more here, and come on down to the event
HP Oak Room
19111 Pruneridge Avenue
Cupertino, CA 95014
I hope to see you there. No iguanas will be harmed. No one will be forced to do improv but there should be plenty of opportunities to try it out if you’re up for it!
This Week @ Portigal
June 11th, 2012
Here’s the latest on our end
- Infrastructure? Who needs it! After last week’s challenges (resolution still pending) on the water for our kitchen, today PG&E finally made good on their repeated promise to only offer intermittent power throughout the day. So we’re in and out, in cafes, and waiting hopefully for full service to return.
- We’re taking last week’s flurry of Bay Area and Sacramento interviews and very rapidly turning that into a deliverable. We’re committed to finishing up this week (which is about as rapid as we’ve ever done something like this, admittedly with a bit of trepidation) but it looks like our client has some scheduling gremlins emerging at the last minute.
- It’s San Francisco Design Week, a time to hang out at other firms, talking to our friends, and eating-and-drinking from their free and sumptuous spreads. Maybe we’ll see you around (we’ll be the ones with our mouths full).
- We’re hiring!
- I’m in some near-final stages with the book, focusing on the images, a lot of which I’m crowdsourcing from other research folks. Hooray, community!
- Do you have a fieldwork War Story? Please share it with us!
- We’re moving ahead on upcoming talks at CPSI, San Francisco/Bay Area ACM, and WebVisions Barcelona.
- What we’re consuming: Stanley Park Noble Pilsner, Crunchie Bar, Hyperbole TV.
Back from UX Lisbon
May 22nd, 2012
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Lisbon and presenting at UX Lx.
I gave an updated version of “Well, We’ve Done All This Research, Now What?” where we did a brief observation of the area around the venue and then developed concepts that spoke to the needs we uncovered. Among the concepts the teams played with was a giant robotic sheep that would provide shade.
The slide deck:
Per Axbom took a series sketchnotes during the session and kindly posted all of them here.
I gave a short presentation on the final day of the conference, exploring the power of user research not only to uncover data that drives product development but to change the way an organization thinks about it’s customers and itself.
The slide deck:
Sketchnotes from LiveSketching.com, Per Axbom, and Francis Rowland. Click on any of them to see the larger original.
(Side note: amusing to see the consistent use of the presenter caricature. The organizers of the conference may have contributed to this; in each attendee packet was a poster showing a funny if awkward scene with cartoon representations of all the different speakers, as well as a set of cards for one of the speakers. Attendees were supposed to trade cards until they got a complete set.)
This Week @ Portigal
January 16th, 2012
We all survived Friday the 13th last week and are ready to take on another week that certainly promises to end less ominously…
So, what’s happening this week at Portigal? Quite a bit…
- We are up to our ears in interesting opportunities that require some creative thinking about participant engagement. Our research gears are turning!
- Steve and Tamara will be giving a curtain-call presentation of findings from a recent study.
- We continue to prepare for upcoming fieldwork (New York!! Los Angeles!!) and Julie is going to be busy making some tools to catalyze conversation.
- Steve presses on with writing for his forthcoming book, synthesizing fabulous interviews with change agents who have driven the adoption of user research and pulling together the great suggestions people contributed to Tips to Improve Your Interviewing Skills (and a request for more!)
- We are percolating some sweet ideas for primary research in 2012 for the Omni project and plan to share them soon. Stay tuned…
- Steve continues to plug away on various tasks related to the upcoming Interaction 12 in Dublin.
- We are all eagerly awaiting the arrival of Wednesday so we can get our geek on at Nerd Nite SF!
- Steve is meeting with a big Silicon Valley player to explore how we can deliver design research training to their teams.
- We continue to search for (and find!) cool opportunities for learning, teaching, and sharing. Julie and Tamara are currently in the throes of submitting proposals for Agile2012 and a few other gigs…
- Tamara continues to dive deep into the eye-candy-land of visual thinking, doodling, mind mapping, graphic facilitation, etc. and welcomes suggestions for articles, websites, examples or groups of local SFists who like to get together with colored markers, blank paper, and ideas.
Merry Monday and Happy Week to you!
This Week @ Portigal
January 3rd, 2012
People often ask us “Just what the heck are you people up to these days?” (Sometimes they just say “Wassup?” but we just figure they are stuck in another decade). We’ve been enjoying posts like the Weekending updates from our new friend Julian Bleecker and we’ve always wanted people to know that real people work here (not just ridiculously brilliant innovator-bots) so while this might be a bit of a departure for All This Chittah Chattah, let us welcome you to the first in what we intend to be a regular series of updates about what’s going on with our team!
- We tore into the New Year with an off-site planning meeting to talk about where we want to head with our little team over this next year. While a change in venue meant we didn’t get to sample American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, we did enjoy a little Freedom From Choice cocktail to unwind from an intense day of future-envisioning
- We’re kicking off a new project with a very tech-forward organization. We’ve been working this team in a training capacity to help them transform their marketing practice into a more user-centered approach, but now they’ve asked us to work with them to bring their professional and consumer customers more deeply into their culture
- Two of the projects we wrapped up at the end of December come back to life briefly as we meet with more stakeholders to share results and discuss the business implications
- We’ll be joining our office-mates at Bayley.Co for a Welcome Back soiree at Pacifica’s newly-reopened Moonraker
Portigal Consulting year in review, 2011
December 12th, 2011
Another year is speeding towards its conclusion and we wanted to share our highlights for 2011.
- We are joined by inveterate sing-talker, Tamara Christensen! Hooray!
- Steve is writing The Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing: Diving Deep for Insight to be published by Rosenfeld Media in 2012.
- Julie and Steve wrote several columns for interactions magazine: What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting It, Elevator Pitch, and Kilroy Was Here.
- We got our umbrage on about a Braun customer survey, Newegg’s gobbledygook customer communications, HP’s TouchPad advertising, Kimpton’s attempts at personalization, Facebook’s anti-empathetic approach to redesigns, Netflix’s user-blindness, web security questions, breast cancer memes, and irrelevant and badly executed cross branding.
- We kicked off the Omni project, examined how people completed everyday tasks in previous eras of technology, gained mucho insight from Nicolas Nova and Adrian Hon, and completed an extensive secondary research slash cultural audit.
- We drew inspiration from Haruki Murakami and Neil Peart.
- Steve was interviewed about the future of reading and digital books for Digital Book World and about interviewing users for the User Experience podcast.
- We reflected on consumption in general and information specifically, flow states in user research, muffin signifiers, hearing protection and customer service, nerds, recycling, gendered design and marketing, silliness at 76 stations, and MacWorld.
- Steve spoke about Discovering and Acting on New Insights at Lift11 (video and slides), Improv in Brainstorming at APDF, Successful Collaboration (slides) at Frontiers of Interaction, Best Practices For Interviewing Users at SXSW (slides and audio), Culture, User Research and Design at OCAD (slides and audio), We’ve done all this research, now what? at UCB and CHI2011 (slides), Uncovering Innovation From The Outside In at the UIE Web Apps Masters Tour, and User Research Analysis in a UIE Virtual Seminar (buy). He also taught full-day workshops including Spinning Data Into Gold (slides) with Rosenfeld Media, and Immersive Field Research Techniques (podcast) at UI16, and We’ve Done All This Research, Now What? at Unfinished Business (slides) and UX Hong Kong (slides).
Julie presented Finding the Right People for the Center for Design Research at the University of Kansas (slides);
Tamara co-presented Big Ideas, Focused Action, Problem Solved at the Oklahoma Creativity Forum (slides)
- We offered a design and experience critique about the One Day For Design experiment.
- Steve shared photographic observations from Geneva, Hong Kong, Toronto, and Florence and Lucca.
- Julie and Steve were out and about in New York (Julie, Steve), Boston, and Portland.
- Our blog (the place for debating/defending the design of really really nichey products, it would seem) turned 10 (yes, 10!)
We redesigned our business cards around the theme of What’s Your Story and started a blog series to explain the stories behind the new designs (collect all six!)
- Steve began co-chairing the IxDA12 Student Challenge
- We doubled our office space, taking over an adjacent space that opened up in our complex. Kitchen! Couch! We’re living large!
Not to mention like a bajillion quickies!
Really nostalgic? Check out summaries from 2010, 2009 and 2008.
Video for PARC Forum “Ethnography as a Cultural Practice” now available
August 2nd, 2010
Screengrab, not an actual clickable widget, of Steve Portigal at PARC Forum
The video for my PARC Forum presentation Ethnography as a Cultural Practice has been posted. Unfortunately we can’t embed it here, but please check it out here.
Tomorrow: Steve Speaking at PARC (and streaming live)
July 21st, 2010
I’ll be speaking at PARC tomorrow (Thursday, July 21) on Ethnography as a cultural practice. The talk will be webcast live here. If you can’t make it, and don’t catch the webcast, they will be be posting the video in a couple of weeks.
Update: video is available here.