MARTA CUCIUREAN-ZAPAN

Contributed Articles

Tutorial: Making Sense—Leading Teams Through Synthesis

KSENIA PACHIKOV Field & StudioMARTA CUCIUREAN-ZAPAN IDEO Overview The synthesis phase presents a unique challenge to collaboration. Synthesis requires teams to make creative leaps, and to have a trusted, systematic approach with which to do so. This tutorial will equip practitioners to create favorable conditions for creative thinking and team alignment. It draws on theories of creativity and the psychology of memory and transition in order to practically address the intellectual and emotional challenges of synthesis. We’ll address the logic by which new insights and ideas emerge in synthesis through a grounding in abductive reasoning, found in fields such as anthropology, literature, engineering, and AI. We’ll also explore how to maintain a sense of progress by marking peaks, lows, and transitions throughout the experience. This two-fold approach to synthesis will allow participants to reflect on past experiences and practice future interactions intended to guide teams through the intellectual and emotional tensions...

Designing Good Jobs: Participatory Ethnography and Prototyping in Service-oriented Work Ecosystems

MARTA CUCIUREAN-ZAPAN IDEO and DePaul University VICTORIA HAMMEL IDEO Three service design projects, in hospitality, finance, and health care, highlight how to design for agency in the workplace, including the implementation of automated and data-driven tools. Inspired by Tacchi, Slater, and Hearn's work on ethnographic action research, Amartya Sen's capabilities approach, and Gibson's affordances theory, this paper examines work as an ecosystem, in which workers’ motivations, values, and ability to achieve what is important to them should be a continual input into how structures and tools are designed. In order to design for agency, teams must shape access to information in order to support workers’ autonomy. Second, project outcomes should reflect the emotions and values which create a sense of progress and purpose. Third, tools, technologies, culture, and incentives within the work ecosystem should be aligned with workers’ goals. Finally, workers must feel safe and protected from censure when they participate in co-creating...

Situated: Reconsidering Context in the Creation and Interpretation of Design Fictions

MARTA CUCIUREAN-ZAPAN IDEO Design fiction and ethnographic methods strengthen each other by creating a creative but rigorous scaffolding for interrogating expectations and reactions to the future. Design fiction can influence the activities, people, and places in which ethnography is done, and ethnography can create design fictions. Viewers and creators populate design fictions with their own past, present, and hoped for future. The intersection of these methods push ethnography beyond the edges of its thoughtful consideration of the present moment, in order to begin investigating the future....

A Thrice-Told Truth

EVAN HANOVER Conifer Research MARTA CUCIUREAN-ZAPAN IDEO Download PDF PechaKucha Presentation—“But what do anthropologists do? What kind of special knowledge do you have access to?” This question was posed during one of the salons at EPIC2014 and cuts to the heart of the value of non-academic anthropologists. We contend that there is not one answer, but a series of possibilities, each a pathway – to knowledge with its own consequences and import. To explore these, we take inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s classic film Rashomon and Margery Wolf’s methodological critique A Thrice-Told Tale. Both of these explore the benefits and limits of perspective by recounting a single story through different lenses. Similarly, we will take a single empirical field observation from fieldwork done on a Caribbean cruise ship. From this starting point, we will frame the same story through three different lenses commonly used in our work: as a user insight, a strategic implication, and as inspiration for innovation. We will emphasize the...

Well, That Was Awkward! The Value of Discomfort

MARTA CUCIUREAN-ZAPANConifer Research EVAN HANOVERConifer Research The awkward pause, the impolite topic, and the embarrassing moment are occupational hazards for the ethnographer. Rather than shun these uncomfortable moments and get back to the smooth, seamless business of research, we should embrace and reflect upon them; they can be invaluable. In this presentation, we will present a study focused on developing and improving resources designed for students who are visually impaired. In the course of this project, we encountered all manner of discomfort as we found our fully sighted understanding of the world challenged by our participants’ experiences. This proved to be a major empathy hurdle, which we only began to resolve once we accounted for our own discomfort as data, and not simply an inconvenient emotional side effect to be swept aside to achieve a kind of ideal objectivity....

Consulting against Culture: A Politicized Approach to Segmentation


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Because market segmentations are a familiar managerial artifact, it is easy to overlook the assumptions teams make as they construct these representations. Segmentations have become entrenched within companies because they are useful in navigating the complexity of the real world, but this generalizing tendency can also lead to stasis and misguided decision-making. As ethnographers we…