Posts tagged “opportunity”

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.

Steve Portigal teaching “Immersive Field Research Techniques” at UI16

Join me for Immersive Field Research Techniques coming up November 7 in Boston at User Interface 16.

My session will be pretty similar to the recent Rosenfeld Media workshop in Seattle, which was pretty well received 🙂






If you haven’t registered yet, you can use the code STEVEP for $300 off the whole conference, or $50 of a single day.

I hope to see you there!

Sign up for “Well, we did all this research- now what?” at Interaction10

I’ll be leading my Well, we did all this research- now what? workshop at Interaction10 in Savannah, GA, in February. (Check out audio and slides from an abbreviated form the workshop here).

If you’re going to sign up before the end of the year, you can use my discount code: IxD10Special and save $50 off the conference registration.

One of the most persistent factors limiting the impact of design research is that research projects often stop with a cataloging findings and implications rather than generating opportunities that directly enable the findings. As designers increasingly become involved in using contextual research to inform their design work, they may find themselves holding onto a trove of raw data but with little awareness of how to turn it into design.

Participants in this workshop (a sell-out at last year’s conference), collaborating in teams, will learn an effective framework for synthesizing raw data (to be gathered before and during the workshop) into insights, and then creatively using those insights to develop a range of business concepts that respond to those insights. While the framework includes a step to identify key filters that will ultimately prioritize across all generated concepts, the emphasis in this workshop will be to think as broadly as possible during ideation, truly strengthening the creative link between “data” and “action.” By the end of the workshop, participants will have developed a range of high-level concepts that respond to a business problem and integrate a fresh, contextual understanding of that problem.

Innovative Outcomes Take Years To Launch

In 2000, prior to Portigal Consulting, we conducted an ethnographic study with Sony to “provide awareness of unarticulated consumer perceptions about digital imaging on which to base future product development decisions…generating a range of new product and service concepts.”

Over the years we’ve seen Sony launch products that are similar to ones we proposed (see example here). We identify opportunities for our clients; the path they take to develop (or not) can be complex and fraught, and many opportunities are not addressed in the marketplace (although we find our clients value how our work helps them make that decision).

Here’s the latest:
party

Sony today introduced the Party-shot personal photographer -an innovative camera dock that pans 360 degrees and tilts 24 degrees, automatically detects faces, adjusts composition and takes photos for you.

This device makes it easy to capture more natural expressions and fun, candid moments of you, your family and friends without having to hire a photographer.

“With the Party-shot personal photographer, you no longer have to worry about taking photos when you are with your family or friends,” said Shigehiko Nakayama, digital imaging accessories product manager at Sony Electronics. “Party-shot captures candid moments that tell natural life stories and also offers a new style of photography that enriches time with your family and friends.

From our 2000 presentation to Sony

Market Opportunity : Freedom to Participate
Today
Defined set of occasions where

  • camera visibility/ interference is possible and accepted
  • cameraman takes on an assumed role

Opportunity to Increase Usage

  • Design cameras that are less bulky, obtrusive, “precious”
  • Enable experiences to be preserved without requiring someone to operate a camera

Our concept (to illustrate the opportunity) emphasized video over still
remote

Product Feature: Full Remote Control

  • Gives capturer full control over video camera while away from device
  • Includes viewfinder, volume, zoom/pan/tilt, battery/tape indicator
  • Capturer is not “tethered” to camera and can participate

Sony isn’t the only one to launch products that we identified. As we identified needs and proposed solutions, it’s inevitable that as time goes by, competitors will identify those needs and develop products. For example, three years ago I blogged about Granny’s Inbox where HP launched something similar to one of our Sony concepts.

Elsewhere, we see other products that have been developed by competitors since our work for Sony in 2000:

Digital Blue’s Tony Hawk Helmetcam
tonyhawk
and our X-treme Cam concept
X-tremeCam

  • Rugged, mountable video camera that captures short clips from the user’s point of view
  • Sharable, relivable document of exciting experiences
  • Appeals to teens and/or sports participants
  • Must be made inexpensive enough to justify its very specific (and thus limited) functionality

Hasbro’s VuGo Multimedia System
vugo
and our MPEG-Man concept
mpegman

  • Plays short clips of digital video
  • Like a photo album, device can be passed around for sharing in a larger group
  • Connect to TV, PC, or projector
  • Better group interactions for sharing video
  • Position as everyday, casual, social device rather than hi-tech or novelty

Casio EXILIM (and other models of still and video cameras from other manufacturers) feature Pre-Record Mode where

photos are not only taken at the moment the shutter release is pressed – they’re also taken before that! With continuous recording of up to 30 photos per second, a maximum of 25 photos can be saved in the camera’s buffer memory – even before the shutter release is pressed. The 25th image then corresponds to the photo that was taken when the shutter release button was pressed. This means that, in addition to the photo that you took at the moment the shutter release button was pressed, you can choose from a further 24 images that occurred just before that moment.

and our Capture Buffer concept (video but could be used for still as well)
capture

  • Video camera is always capturing and discarding footage
  • When user initiates recording, option of saving the contents of the buffer
  • People will no longer miss the beginning of what they want to film
  • Slightly more skill required by users – where was the camera pointing before the button is pressed?

Buffalo TeraStation Home Server
nas

and our Digital Memory Vault concept
vault

  • Permanent digital storage for stills and video
  • Indexing, organizing, online publishing
  • Random access retrieval
  • Simplifies organization and retrieval of images (and video)
  • Leverages familiar (to PC users) activity of searching (i.e., web search)
  • Appeals to customers who are already invested in digital imaging, or in legacy imaging (i.e., family albums)
  • Challenge to deliver expected bullet-proof reliability at an acceptable price point

Samsung TL225 with front LCD to prompt subject to smile, etc.
samsung

and our Teleprompter Cam concept (video but could be applied to still)
teleprompter

  • Image on screen prompts subject to pose for video
  • Helps people feel comfortable in front of a video camera
  • Positioning challenge: though most images are posed and theatrical, our culture privileges the capture of candid and “natural”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Steve Portigal presenting "We've Done All This Research: Now What?" at Web 2.0 Expo New York on 11/17 – As designers increasingly are themselves conducting contextual research to inform their design work, they may find they are holding onto a trove of raw data but with little awareness of how to turn it into design. How can designers and researchers work with this type of data to have the most impact on design and business?

    Participants in this workshop, collaborating in teams, will learn an effective framework for synthesizing raw data (to be gathered before and/or during the workshop) into insights, and then creatively using those insights to develop a range of business concepts that respond to those insights.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • UK teen sex education pamphlet emphasizes sex sex as healthy and pleasurable rather than warning about disease – "Health officials are trying to change the tone of sex education. The new pamphlet, called "Pleasure," has sparked some opposition from those who believe it encourages promiscuity among teens in a country that already has high rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases."

    Regardless of what you think of this morally, politically, etc., it's a powerful example of reframing a discussion and challenging closely-held beliefs in order to innovate.

  • Slides and audio posted for “Well, we did all this research … now what?” at BayCHI – BayCHI has relaunched podcasts and my recent BayCHI talk is among the first to be posted. You can listen to the audio, or you can watch the slides with embedded audio."Steve Portigal introduces a framework for synthesizing raw data into insights, and then creatively using those insights to develop a range of business concepts that respond to those insights and integrate a fresh, contextual understanding of a customer's unmet needs."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • BusinessWeek looks at how Steelcase went from user research data to insights to opportunities – "But most innovations depend on nontraditional research methods—ethnographic studies, customer-created collages, and so on—that can't easily be sliced and diced in Excel. That means synthesis can be one of the most challenging steps in the innovation process." This is an issue I'll be addressing in my upcoming workshop at EPIC 2009 "Moving from Data to Insights to Opportunities"
  • The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies – Not technically a museum (or even an Internet museum) as they've really just aggregated images that represent tools and ways of working that have or are in the process of obsoleting.

Duty now for the future

clock-artpiece
Artpiece made of clocks, Chicago MOMA

This list of 10 workplace skills of the future is going around the various ‘Scapes and ‘Spheres (it came to me on Twitter via Chris23). Without getting into whether the list is entirely correct or comprehensive, I think it’s incredibly thought-provoking.

For anyone involved in designing products–especially work environments and tools–it will be crucial to explore people’s daily lives and see what’s really happening: how these types of shifts are manifesting behaviorally and emotionally, and what new opportunities are being created as a result.

10 Workplace Skills of the Future
(From Bob Johansen’s book, Leaders Make the Future. Originally posted by Tessa Finlev in The Future Now blog.)

Ping Quotient
Excellent responsiveness to other people’s requests for engagement; strong propensity and ability to reach out to others in a network

Longbroading
Seeing a much bigger picture; thinking in terms of higher level systems, bigger networks, longer cycles

Open Authorship
Creating content for public modification; the ability to work with massively multiple contributors

Cooperation Radar
The ability to sense, almost intuitively, who would make the best collaborators on a particular task or mission

Multi-Capitalism
Fluency in working and trading simultaneously with different hybrid capitals, e.g., natural, intellectual, social, financial, virtual

Mobbability
The ability to do real-time work in very large groups; a talent for coordinating with many people simultaneously; extreme-scale collaboration

Protovation
Fearless innovation in rapid, iterative cycles; the ability to lower the costs and increase the speed of failure

Influency
Knowing how to be persuasive and tell compelling stories in multiple social media spaces (each space requires a different persuasive strategy and technique)

Signal/Noise Management
Filtering meaningful info, patterns, and commonalities from the massively-multiple streams of data and advice

Emergensight

The ability to prepare for and handle surprising results and complexity that come with coordination, cooperation and collaboration on extreme scales

With every trend, comes a counter-trend, and a counter-trend?

With every trend, comes a counter-trend, and a counter-trend? We’ve seen Indians come to Silicon Valley to be successful, and then last year we heard about successful Silicon Valley immigrants from India returning home to be more successful, and now we’ve got Silicon Valley folks (Americans from Indian and non-Indian backgrounds) who are moving to India (not just for jobs, but for life lessons)

Dharma Sears, 27, who also grew up in Oakland, said he was seeking a different kind of employment when he landed his first job at a private Indian school. He now teaches at the American Embassy School in New Delhi.

India made a lot of sense,” he said. “It’s an English-speaking country. I could find a job in a school easily enough.”

Living in Europe didn’t appeal to Sears. “I wanted to be in a country starkly different. India is a changing and dynamic country.”

Ashok Bardhan, senior economist at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, said that India is facing a shortage of skilled workers and while the large majority of employees inside any one company is still Indian, there is a concerted effort to recruit from abroad.

Indian Americans are especially attractive because they can easily adapt, Bardhan said. “They’re a bridge between a different business culture practices in the U.S. and India. This is the key competitive advantage.”

He added: “There’s quite a significant number of people working at software companies. And at relatively higher positions are folks from the Bay Area.”

Statistics are hard to come regarding the number of young Americans landing jobs in India. Seasoned observers have noted a small but growing number over the past five years.

Robert Hetzel, director of the American Embassy School, said working in India has become a resume builder for many young Americans.

“You can’t pick up a news magazine without (reading) an article about the growth of the economy and the opportunities that are here,” he said. Young Americans “see it as a stepping-stone to a global economy. It says you’ve been in one of the drivers of that economy, India.”

India’s fast growing high-tech and banking companies need skilled employees. Infosys Chief Financial Officer Mohandas Pai said his company has grown from 500 to 50,000 workers in 12 years and has hired many young Americans.

Americans used to say “Go west, young man,” said Pai. “Now it’s go east. With the rise of India and China as economic powers, we are seeing life-changing opportunities here.”

Cultural adjustments come along with working in India for young, single Americans. Erik Simonsen, a 26-year-old native of Riverside, earns a low-six-figure salary working with the investment banking research firm Copal Partners in New Delhi. He rents a nice three-bedroom apartment with cable TV and paid utilities for $400 a month. But he can’t get a date.

“It’s not a place where you just approach somebody and introduce yourself,” he said. “There are expectations from the family. They usually date people from their own communities.”

With a smile, he admitted, “I’ve spent a lot of nights on the couch by myself.”

Hetzel said social life constitutes the biggest worry for his teaching staff. If American staff decide to leave India, he said, “that’s probably the No. 1 reason. They have not been able to create a social life for themselves. Culturally, that’s challenging here.” Single women face the same problem. Couples tend to marry much younger in India than in the United States. By the time a woman hits her late 20s, Indians “think something’s wrong if you’re not married,” said Hetzel. Nightclubs rarely attract single people in their late 20s or 30s.

“All the eligible men are married,” he said.

India has other downsides. Young American transplants immediately notice the poverty and crowded conditions. Simonsen said the first time he emerged from the New Delhi airport, it seemed as if people were “stacked on top of each other.”

“Then you snake into the parking lot and then into a rickety cab,” he said. “At 1 a.m., the highway is packed with trucks, honking, and you’re weaving in and out of them. It’s a pretty crazy first couple of hours when you get here.”

All the Americans interviewed for this story said, despite the difficulties, they wouldn’t give up the experience of living in India. They praised the opportunity to work at interesting jobs and immerse themselves in another culture.

Simonsen said he expects more Americans to head east. “A lot of Indians now in Silicon Valley are coming home, and they’re taking some of their western co-workers back with them,” he said.

“There’s an excitement here that we haven’t seen since the dot-com boom.”

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