Martha Cotton

Contributed Articles

Ethnography in Agile Contexts: Offering Speed or Spark?

EPIC2017 Platinum Panel Moderated by: MARTHA COTTON (Fjord) Panelists: JULIA KATHERINE HAINES (Google), BRIAN KING (HEC Montréal), MARIE-AGNES PARMENTIER (HEC Montréal), CARRIE YURY (Beyond Curious) & MICHAEL WINNICK (dscout) Overview This panel explores perspectives that emerge from the intersection of ethnography and agile methodologies—from real constraints to exciting possibilities. We seek to better understand what “agile” is and where it comes from and then explore tools and approaches that allow us to be relevant in agile contexts. Is being “agile” just about efficiency and speeding up our processes? Or is it about ongoing efforts that offer the right spark at the right time? Or maybe something in between? In this panel we explore this timely topic that currently—or soon will—affect most members of the EPIC community....

Tutorial: Six Principles for Working Differently

Instructors: MARTHA COTTON, gravitytank SHELLY SATHER As practitioners, EPIC people continually work to help our teams, organizations and clients understand the value of ethnographic approaches and “the ethnographer” as a team member. We help colleagues and clients to think and work differently, adapting the value we bring to the organization’s existing work flow and process. In this tutorial, Martha Cotton shares the curriculum gravitytank developed to teach their clients—including many Fortune 500 companies—to work differently and in a way that better supports innovation and design thinking. This tutorial gives you concrete strategies and behaviors you can use in your own work practice and for creating change in your organizations. Martha Cotton is a partner at gravitytank, where she helps lead research discipline and external marketing. Her career began at eLab in 1990s, and has included leadership roles at Sapient, Hall & Partners, and HLB. She has worked across a wide variety of industries as an applied...

The Trouble with Job Titles: Getting beyond Buzzwords in a Shifting Employment Landscape

by MARTHA COTTON, GARY GEBHARDT, TRACEY LOVEJOY, ABBAS JAFFER — and you! How have professional skills & requirements for ethnographers and other human-centered researchers changed over the last 10 years—and where are they headed? How can you evaluate the confusing terrain of position titles and descriptions, as well as assess the organizations offering them? Post your questions, insights & ideas! This week, 1–4 December, join the EPx Forum for a free, online discussion with Martha, Tracey, Gary & Abbas. How to join: sign in or create a free account, then visit EPx Forum and click subscribe here Introductions Martha Cotton, Partner, gravitytank Back in the mid-90s when I was at eLab, researchers went through a brief period where our business cards said “Understander.” As a word, it fit to describe what I did for a living. But as a job title to communicate my role to others outside of my small ethnographer community, it was very hard to, well, understand. I have a memory of handing my business card to...



Martha Cotton

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