Posts tagged “insights”

The Insight at Scale track from Enterprise UX

A couple of months ago I moderated the “Insight at Scale” track at the Enterprise UX conference, which featured three presentations and discussion. The videos for each presentation (and our discussion) are below as well as links to the slide decks. There’s also sketch notes for the whole session.


Insight Types That Influence Enterprise Decision Makers – Christian Rohrer, Vice President and Chief Design Officer, Intel Security (slides)


Data Science and Design: A Tale of Two Tribes – Chris Chapo, Operations at ENJOY (slides)


Emotion Economy: Ethnography as Corporate Strategy – Kelly Goto, author of Web Redesign 2.0 (slides)


Discussion

Listen to Steve on Wise Talk

Insights

I was interviewed by Sue Bethanis for Mariposa Leadership’s Wise Talk show. In an episode titled The Art of Interviewing Users we talked about how to see and notice in a different way, being aware of our own filters and biases, and constantly rediscovering what the problem you are trying to solve really is. You can listen to the interview below, or at Wise Talk.

To download the audio Right-Click and Save As… (Windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac).

Video from UX Lisbon: Discover and act on insights about people

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

Steve leading a workshop in Barcelona about Making Research Real

Next week I’m off to Barecelona to speak at WebVisions. In collaboration with Kelly Goto, I’ll be running a workshop called Synthesis to Ideation:Making Research Real.

In this hands-on workshop, insight strategists Steve Portigal and Kelly Goto will lead you through a fast-paced, engaging workshop with one requirement: Rethink your research approach and implement new frameworks for collection and synthesis of findings — to create actionable artifacts and outcomes for the real world.

I’ve been leading workshops like this a lot over the past few years, but I’m really excited about the collaboration with Kelly; our approaches are generally aligned but different in interesting ways and we’re using that creative tension to give our participants a broader perspective.

If you’re interested in signing up, use registration code PORTIGAL for a 40% discount.

I’ll also be presenting Championing Contextual Research in Your Organization during the conference itself.

I hope to see you there!

Insight Inspired Innovation: Notes from CPSI

Last week I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI, pronounced sip-see, for short). The conferences is in its 58th year of delivering engaging, hands-on learning about how to use creative thinking to tackle complex challenges and develop innovative solutions. I have attended for the past 6 years, often presenting and always learning new tools and techniques for facilitating creative collaboration. Here I will highlight a few insightful and inspiring events for me and share a bit about the workshop I gave.

The incredible lineup of keynote speakers this year included one of my longtime creativity crushes, Teresa Amabile, the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration and a Director of Research at Harvard Business School who spoke about her new book, The Progress Principle. It offers an insightful peek into the challenge of management and motivation based upon research with 12,000 diary entries provided by 238 employees in 7 companies. For those interested, this downloadable daily diary tool allows you to conduct an autoethnographic inquiry into your own inner work life. For me it inspired new thinking about the impact of culture on corporate innovation efforts, specifically the gap that can exist between what a manager believes an employee needs and what that employee actually needs (and may not even realize).

I was captivated by John Hunter, an educator who uses the World Peace Game to teach fourth grade students about the complexities of world peace. A complex simulation that separates children into four countries and continually bombards them with challenges that are political, economic, cultural, environmental, etc. Without any coaching or intervention from the teacher, the students must try to win the game, e.g. raise the net worth of each country and avoid war. And they do it, over and over and over. Hunter helps these children develop communication and collaboration skills that enable them to resolve conflict, embrace compromise and honor diversity. Who would have thought that 9 year olds are capable of solving the most complex and wicked problems of our day? You can watch his acclaimed TED talk here. I was inspired both as a parent and an innovator about the kinds of facilitative techniques we can use to empower stakeholders to solve complex challenges in ways we may have never imagined possible.

I offered a workshop called Insight Inspired Innovation: How to use research as creative fuel. Attendees came from diverse contexts with varying experiences in research and creative problem solving processes so we had some rich discussions about language and process. The slides from the presentation are below.

 

During the workshop attendees used simulated insights about the organizational challenges of integrating insights into ideation activities to brainstorm new approaches.The key opportunity questions were:

How might we allow people to easily access insights?

How might we enable people to ideate together regardless of time or location?

How might we keep the human touch in communication?

This was, admittedly, a rather recursive activity. They used insights to ideate about ways to help people ideate with insights. My hope was for them to walk away both with new knowledge from the presentation and some new ideas for how to utilize insights creatively. In a little over 10 minutes these 3 groups came up with nearly 100 ideas that they captured on sticky notes. After a quick convergence each group presented their favorites. I’ve culled through all of those sticky notes and pulled out just a few to share (with their permission). If you’re looking to activate research within your organization, you just might find some gems in here.

  • “Opposites attract” idea buddies
  • Have ideation slumber parties, lock-ins, sock hops-
  • Insights become part of my screensaver
  • Live Suzy [a consumer/research participant] for a day
  • Make a bedtime/sleeptime listening CD
  • Ideation cruise
  • Insights suit, makes them personal
  • Insights speed dating
  • Diary rooms
  • Ideation signaled by a “bat signal”
  • Insights karaoke
  • Twitter brainstorm
  • Make a graphic novel of the insights
  • Pay the children to repeat them to their parents

 

Playing Participant: An autoethnography

With our Curating Consumption series Steve and I take time to look through our researcher lens at our lives as consumers. Sometimes we get to play participant and experience the other side of the research conversation. I recently participated in an online focus group for the redesign of a website. I couldn’t help but reflect on my own experience in contrast to that of being on the other side of the virtual glass. While the opportunities below were generated from a moderated online context, they also suggest possibilities for designing real time research interactions:

What Was Happening: I logged in and waited for the moderator to start talking. This was a silent discussion. Everyone was typing.

What I Was Thinking:¬†Here I am at my computer, wearing my ear buds, ready to listen and there’s no talking. Oh my God. I’m an extrovert. How can I make it through 90 minutes of silence? How can I get my big wordy thoughts into these little text boxes? This is not what I was expecting.

Insight: No one set appropriate expectations for what ‘online focus group’ meant. I assumed it would be like a focus group with actual verbal communication. As an extrovert I found it difficult to sit quietly for 90 minutes with a virtual room full of people. As a verbal processor I struggled to articulate some of my ideas as typed words with limited character restrictions. This may have felt considerably different had I known going into it what to expect.

Opportunity: Use words wisely. If you call something X but it is different from most Xs, then clearly communicate how it is different so participants have appropriate expectations. Or don’t call it X.

Opportunity: Employ a variety of methods that cater to diverse personalities (i.e. introvert, extrovert) and learning preferences (i.e. visual, auditory, kinesthetic).  Try to avoid using only one mode of interaction, it can feel alienating and disillusioning for participants.


What Was Happening: The moderators introduced themselves and set some guidelines for the session. Our first instruction was to introduce ourselves with a story about our name.

What I Was Thinking: Fun! Our icebreaker is simple! A story about my name: where it came from, what it means, whatever I want to share! Am I allowed to talk to the other participants? I want to comment on that story!

Insight: This was a fun and simple icebreaker with a low barrier to entry (everyone has a name!). It was also appropriate to the context because all I knew of the other participants in the group were their names. We began addressing comments to each other and then the moderator encouraged us to do more of that. We quickly established a rapport and connected to each other through these stories.

Opportunity: Facilitate rapport building between researcher and participants AND among participants. If you have expectations about who should (or shouldn’t) be talking to who, clarify that at the outset (or before beginning).


What Was Happening: We were asked questions by the moderator (her type was in bold and blue) and then all of our responses would come up in a feed below. It was a small window that I was unable to resize or navigate.

What I Was Thinking: This interface is driving me nuts. I am struggling to follow all of the comments. The moderator’s questions get lost upstream when everyone starts answering. When I try to go up to revisit the question, an answer comes in and I lose my place in the thread. I cant’ find the rating scale we are supposed to use. Is 1 high or low? ARGH!

Insight: The researcher often has a clear path through the conversation in mind. Participants don’t necessarily have this big picture view and can feel lost in the forest of questions and answers.

Opportunity: Ensure participants have various tools for keeping up with the flow of the conversation. This may be easier in live/in-person meetings, and especially valuable for virtual or asynchronous interactions.

Opportunity: Provide a map of the journey that enables participants to identify where they are if they feel lost. Let them peek behind the curtain to see what’s ahead. It can be a trust builder if done well, or a spoiler alert if not framed appropriately.

If you want to play with the possibilities of using these opportunities to improve your own practice (I know I am!), you can turn each Opportunity into a question that catalyzes divergent thinking. Simply ask “How might we…” before each Opportunity (e.g., How Might We ensure participants have various tools for keeping up with the flow of the conversation?). Then challenge yourself to generate as many ideas as you can (20 is always a good round number). And if you do, please share! We would love to hear suggestions for how to improve the practice of research by improving the design of the participant experience.

Back from UX Lisbon

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.)

Steve’s “The Power of Bad Ideas” published on Core77

Core77 has published my latest column, The Power of Bad Ideas

Bad ideas are not boring, meh proposals. Bad is not the absence of good. These ideas should go beyond provoking “That’s stupid!” to eliciting a much stronger response. Bad ideas might be immoral, dangerous to the user or bad for the business itself. In one session I led, a team proudly showed me their sketches of homeless people packed onto trains and shipped away from the downtown core they were trying to improve. At the time, I reacted to the general lack of humaneness in the idea and saw that as visceral proof point of how they were challenging boundaries. It wasn’t until much much later that I appreciated the horrific evocation of the Holocaust. In this writing, and perhaps in the reading, in the cold pixels of this piece, this feels grotesque. That’s because in reflecting here we are outside the environment of ideation. Within the context of the brainstorm, we have a “safe place” where exploring what’s possible without judgment is crucial.

Check out the full piece on Core77.

Netflix never even thought to ask about *that*!

Reed Hastings Knows He Messed Up is a Q&A with the Netflix CEO. The piece is largely snarky pseudo-hardball questions that Hastings dodges by asking us to take the long view, but this nugget about the Qwikster debacle was provocative:

Q: I’m curious if you could have done any kind of research that could have anticipated this?
A: Our focus-group work concentrated on trying to understand consumers’ perspectives on names other than Netflix.

I’m stunned by this and all it implies.

  • Netflix doesn’t think of using research to understand the impact of a concept that would change its user experience?
  • Netflix relies on focus groups as their strategic insight methodology?
  • Netflix didn’t already have knowledge of user work flows, brand affinity, or anything else from their previous work that could have guided them?
  • Netflix tested the Qwikster name and still went with it?

This is baffling, so baffling that it must not be true. There’s plenty of thought-leader UX types in house at Netflix, this is not a company that doesn’t think about design, experience, or the customer. Now where Hastings sits in that process is another question. Not to mention this quote is condensed from a longer interview and there may be some crucial content lost. But still. Stunned.

Steve to lead “Interviewing Users” workshop 9/28 in Seattle

As part of the Rosenfeld Media UX Workshops Fall 2011 Tour, I’ll be leading a full-day workshop – Interviewing Users: Spinning Data into Gold.

You can choose up to 3 workshops, including ones from Lou Rosenfeld and Steve Krug. Early registration (with a decent discount) ends September 9.

Bonus: the event will held at the amazing Seattle Central Library!

I hope to see you there!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Facebook Policy Spurs Big Pharma to Rethink Social Media [Advertising Age] – [Beyond challenges such as authenticity, relevancy and voice, social media presence is a regulatory risk for brands in some industries.] Being forced to enable comments on its Facebook pages puts pharmaceutical companies at risk of running afoul of the current FDA regulations, even if it's just consumers making the comments. For instance, if a company has a branded page for an antacid, and a consumer comments that it helped lower his blood pressure as well, that's considered off-label promotion. "The Facebook decision is entirely consistent with what Facebook is designed to be — interactive. A Facebook page with the interactivity turned off is just a static web page residing on an interactive platform. And that isn't what Facebook is all about. It's time for regulated industry to step up to the plate and embrace the powerful tool that is real-time interactivity."
  • [from steve_portigal] Focus Groups That Look Like Play Groups [NYTimes.com] – [The lede, emphasizing focus groups, is misleading. The article explores a range of methods that market researchers are using. Maybe some novel ideas in here but also a good artifact of the popular press discourse about how we work.] Mr. Denari’s agency takes a different tack, interviewing consumers in their homes and leaving them with journals called “Little Truth Books” for a week or two. “It forces people to think a little more deeply than they normally would,” Mr. Denari said. When Ugly Mug Coffee wanted to retool its brand, Mr. Denari’s agency asked consumers to use the journals to draw family trees showing which family members were coffee drinkers. They were also asked to list some of the worst things about coffee, what their coffee “cut-off time” was and why they drank it at all. “The whole goal is the get to the heart,” Mr. Denari said. The research helped Ugly Mug create new packaging and expand distribution. [via @serota]
  • [from steve_portigal] A gelato-less June [Gelatobaby] – [Interesting to see how blogs can structure/support deliberate habit changes.] I wrote an essay pledging to fly less to reduce my environmental impact. (I’m actually only allowing myself one round-trip flight per month, compared to the 23 trips I took last year.) My friend Greg Lindsay, author of the new book Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next pointed out that my air miles were nothing compared to the footprint of my gelato habit. A United Nations report from last year noted that “agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.” I’m hoping that I can fill my gelato-less days with facts and information about where my dairy is coming from, how it’s produced, and if­if!­I might even come to love some dairy-free options. Suffice it to say, this is going to be an extremely enlightening 30 days. Especially since I have just discovered that the LA Weekly has embarked upon 30 Scoops in 30 Days project.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] The Art of Design Research (and Why It Matters) [design mind] – [Lovely piece by Jon Freach on what design research brings to design and innovation.] And sometimes design teams don't have the patience to see the value in dragging out a study in an effort to make it scientifically or statistically significant. We're just not wired that way; we prefer to make and experiment and then analyze later. So what is research good for? 1. Learning about people's behavior; 2. Understanding and analyzing culture; 3. Defining context; 4. Setting focus…Design research is not "a science" and is not necessarily "scientific." It gives designers and clients a much more nuanced understanding of the people for whom they design while providing knowledge that addresses some of the most fundamental questions we face throughout the process. What is the correct product or service to design? What characteristics should it have, and is it working as intended? "The research" won't necessarily provide cold hard answers. But it will generate some good and feasible ideas.
  • [from steve_portigal] CBS Radio Tells Its D.J.’s to Name Titles and Artists [NYTimes.com] – [Tying together the fortunes of radio and record sales?] Last week the head of a major radio company felt compelled to instruct its programmers to identify more of the songs played on the air, by title and artist name…at some indeterminate point in history ­ the mid-1980s ­ song identification began to vanish from the air as programmers struggled to squeeze out anything considered “clutter.” “You were always conscious about the amount of talk you would put on,” he said. “But the truth is that people tune in and tune out, and it was probably underestimated at the time how much people really wanted that information.” For record companies, having a song’s title and artist’s name mentioned on the air ­ especially if new and unfamiliar ­ is crucial marketing…“At one point in our culture there were well-schooled retailers who could help people figure out what that song was, because they wanted to buy it,” said Greg Thompson, VP at EMI Music. “In this day and age that doesn’t exist.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from wstarosta] There are no such things as “Insights” [PLH] – [Pretty Little Head contributor, Farrah Bostic, shares her opinion on what an insight is and what it isn't. In doing so, she makes the point that insights are not things that can be gathered. Rather, the best we can hope for is to be insightful through research, immersion, observation and questioning.] I was recently asked to put together some “insight generation” exercises for a training workshop. This is pretty standard fare for a planning director, the person who ‘owns the insights.’ Creative briefs now often feature sections that are titled something like, “What’s the key insight?” – into which, the planner dutifully fills in some text in order to earn her wages. For some reason, on this particular request, I just completely stalled out. I often, at conferences and in client meetings, or with other planners, remark on how “insights” is another crime against the English language that Adland has perpetrated upon corporate culture.

From SXSW – Diving Deep: Best Practices For Interviewing Users

I spoke at SXSW recently about the interviewing process in user research. As I’ve been working on a book about this topic the timing was great for me.

While we know, from a very young age, how to ask questions, the skill of getting the right information from users is surprisingly complex and nuanced. This session will focus on getting past the obvious shallow information into the deeper, more subtle, yet crucial, insights. If you are going to the effort to meet with users in order to improve your designs, it’s essential that you know how to get the best information and not leave insights behind. Being great in “field work” involves understanding and accepting your interviewee’s world view, and being open to what they need to tell you (in addition to what you already know you want to learn). We’ll focus on the importance of rapport-building and listening and look at techniques for both. We will review different types of questions, and why you need to have a range of question types. This session will explore other contextual research methods that can be built on top of interviewing in a seamless way. We’ll also suggest practice exercises for improving your own interviewing skills and how to engage others in your organization successfully in the interviewing experience.

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