case study

How a Government Organisation Evolved to Embrace Ethnographic Methods for Service (and Team) Resilience: The Case of the Canadian Digital Service

Presentation slide: photograph of a diverse group of people waiting outside a building with a "Service Canada sign", most are wearing masks.
MITHULA NAIK Canadian Digital Service, Treasury Board Secretariat, Government of Canada COLIN MACARTHUR Universita’ Bocconi DOWNLOAD PDF Government websites and online services are often built with limited input from the people they serve. This approach limits their ability to respond to ever changing needs and contexts. This case study describes a government digital team built from the ground up to embrace ethnographic methods to make government services more resilient. The case study begins by tracing the organisation’s origins and relationship to other research-driven parts of its government. Then it shows how the organisation’s structure evolved as more projects included ethnography. It describes various approaches to locating skilled researchers within bureaucratic confines, as well as what responsibilities researchers took on as the organisation grew. It then summarises researchers’ experiences with matrixed, functional and hybrid organisation schemes. The case study concludes explaining how embracing...

Designing and Envisioning a More Resilient Social System: How to Start from What’s Good to Create Something Better in Public Services

Presentation slide: diagram called "Service Concepts: Forecast & ideate". It looks like a colorful flow chart but it is too small to read.
SOFIA CARVALHO With Company Segurança Social (Portugal’s Social Security System) offers multiple service channels to the people. However, they were not perceived as a whole because the assistance was not standard, depending on the channel or person answering – leading to cumulative problems that could take months to resolve. We faced the complex nature of a big governmental organization. Our research made us more aware of people’s general reluctance towards public institutions as they tend to expect poor quality service. We used the information from field research to create four prototypes that would bring tangible results to citizens and impact the institution’s culture in the long term. Segurança Social has always been about resilience: the organization itself and the people it serves. Despite its flaws and fragilities, it’s the social system that allows many to thrive. That’s why we envisioned the system’s sustainability, rooted in the workers’ resilience and processes. Keywords: Public Services, Digital...

Dismantling Stereotypes: Taking an Inside-Out Perspective to Building Better Representation in Advertising for Unilever

STEPHANIE BARRETT Quantum Consumer Solutions SIDDHARTH KANORIA Quantum Consumer Solutions Equality, inclusion, and representation are increasingly acknowledged as core tenets of prosperous countries, cities, and organizations. We know that equality is essential, and we also know equality must be enacted on all fronts. Brands and other social organizations are increasingly recognizing their role as social stakeholders, committed to building a society in which both people and their businesses can thrive in the long-term. Quantum Consumer Solutions and Unilever have partnered on this program of four projects to understand and reduce stereotypes and improve representation. We used a mixed-methods approach, including semiotics, qualitative research, expert interviews, springboards, and internal organizational change to improve inclusivity in communications, pack, and products. Readers can expect to learn why we recommend an ‘inside-out’ approach that combines organizational change with external initiatives, why we need to approach...

Designing and Conducting Inclusive Research: How a Global Technology Company and an Online Research Platform Partnered to Explore the Technology Experiences of Users who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Presentation slide projected on stage: title, "Benefits of Remote Technology". text: "My phone I use for basically everything. I use it to have..." On the right is a photo of what appears to be a desk with a computer monitor (unclear)
DANA C. GIERDOWSKI Lenovo KAREN EISENHAUER dscout PEGGY HE Lenovo This case study examines how researchers at Lenovo and dscout partnered to conduct a mobile ethnographic study on the technology experiences of individuals who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing, with the goal of making their products and research practices more accessible and inclusive. The study revealed common frustrations and pain points people experience when using their every-day technology. The researchers also learned valuable research design and operations lessons related to recruiting participants who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing, providing accommodations, and establishing an accessible research environment. This case explores the benefits of mobile-forward research design, and the additional considerations and adaptations necessary for collecting both asynchronous and synchronous data from individuals who have hearing loss and who have different communication modes and preferences, including American Sign Language. The authors discuss how more inclusive...

Navigating the Next with Resilience: Global Portfolio Strategy in a World of Uncertainty

Giulia Gasperi presenting at EPIC2022
GIULIA ELISA GASPERI TRIPTK SAM HORNSBY TRIPTK KATE MCTIGUE TRIPTK NICHOLAS PEDEN TRIPTK Apparel & footwear (A&F) give us social identity, protection and a means of self-expression. But in a pandemic these ways of thinking about clothing are essentially pointless. When the world shuts down and stays at home, how are A&F companies supposed to figure out what’s next – and how to gear themselves up for the future? At TRIPTK, we created the What’s Next Desk, a ‘what do we do about it next’ set of strategic and tactical actions for a global leader in apparel & footwear to respond to the behavioral shifts in consumer trends during COVID-19. We believe ethnographic research is a powerful approach for connecting companies to the people, communities and culture they serve. And when the world shuts down and we’re forced to throw the classic ethnographic playbook out the window, we still believe the ethnographic approach is possible and preferred. We believe that at its core, ethnography promotes empathy,...

Creating Resilient Research Findings: Using Ethnographic Methods to Combat Research Amnesia

Kristen Guth speaking at EPIC2022. Slide reads "Organizations can learn by reflection on memories, or shared understandings and beliefs, of specific events and contexts
KRISTEN L. GUTH Reddit, Inc. DOWNLOAD PDF Product teams, including those I work with, struggle to connect the challenges observed in prior research to issues that endure in the field and market space. As a shortcut for efficiency gains, product partners rely on researchers to succinctly summarize deep insights, sometimes preferring reductive quantitative interpretations to enable a bias toward action in product development cycles. Challenges facing researchers in product development include maintaining the relevance of prior research, providing a way to make it evergreen and accessible, and building on it to deepen and expand an existing model of behavior. This case introduces the concept of Research Amnesia, which poses a threat to organizational resilience. Using core ethnographic methods, a strategic methodological approach is outlined to frameshift the value of existing research within a company to develop new insights, bring together disparate analyses and teams, and propel product partners forward by offering more questions...

Cybersecurity in the Icelandic Multiverse

Photo of Megan McGrath presenting at EPIC2022. Projected slide says "Building a Strategic Multiverse"
MEGHAN MCGRATH IBM “Security in cyber space should be one of the main cornerstones of economic prosperity in Iceland, resting on a foundation of sophisticated awareness of security issues and legislation.” —Icelandic National Cyber Security Strategy Iceland makes a unique case study for cybersecurity in that it ranks among the world’s most connected nations as well as among the highest for social trust. Data that elsewhere is considered sensitive is shared freely by individuals and businesses. As a result, technology built in places with different cybersecurity paradigms may not function as intended in an Icelandic context. This work, undertaken with undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Iceland’s Computer Science department, employed ethnographic methods in a classroom setting to build cybersecurity awareness with a special emphasis on culture and to engage the broader community in conversations about security from local perspectives. This work lends itself well to multinational enterprise...

The Future of Hygiene: Constructive Expansive Futures

SIDDHARTH KANORIA Quantum Consumer Solutions DIMITRI BERTI Quantum Consumer Solutions CHRISTI KOBIERECKA Unilever There has been significant interest in Futuring as a discipline after COVID-19, as multiple industries are beginning to interrogate their post-Covid future. Quantum Consumer Solutions and Unilever came together to interrogate the post-COVID future of hygiene in Europe, to inform brand and product strategy for Unilever. This project took a culture-first approach to futures, with a diverse and inter-disciplinary team working together using an Agile approach. Using a mixed-methods approach, the team used a combination of digital ethnography, speculative design and an Opportunity Spaces framework to distill the future of hygiene into ten Opportunity Spaces for Unilever. Readers can expect to learn more about why a culture-first approach to futures is recommended, how speculative design could represent an ‘ethnography of the future’ and how a simultaneously analytical and creative approach to futuring could be...

Designing Virtual Primary Care: Desire or Dread? How Structural Forces Shape the Anticipation of Futures

MARIE MIKA GRH+DOD* ARVIND VENKATARAMANI SonicRim The COVID-19 pandemic changed many healthcare companies' priorities and dramatically accelerated the drive towards increasingly virtual health care. Grand Rounds Health*, a healthcare startup, decided the time is now to launch its virtual primary care offering. It was assumed that a rural, lower-socioeconomic population would be more eager for, and best served by, virtual primary care, given their greater geographic distance from clinicians and other assumed access deficits. However, ethnographic research revealed that it was the urban, higher-socioeconomic population who both reported far more favorable experiences with remote care and more eager anticipation of virtual primary care. This is partly due to different technological experiences and ecosystems, but more directly due to differing trust in and agency with institutionalized health care. Ultimately, this case study reminds researchers that our experiences are shaped and limited by our social positions, and that we cannot...

Building for the Future, Together: A Model for Bringing Emerging Products to Market, Using Anticipatory Ethnography and Mixed Methods Research

Adobe Inc. Applied ethnography practitioners are often charged with learning from existing or potential customers, for a product that is either familiar to them or close in nature to what they have used before. There are particular challenges for emerging technologies, where the market is much less defined. Applied ethnography has the potential to help…

Reconnecting with the Public: Participatory Research and Co-creations within and outside a Public Institution

LOK YI LEE Brandnographer XINYI JIANG Brandnographer Despite constraints on face-to-face meetings and social distancing policies under COVID-19, with the help of online tools, Brandnographer successfully conducted a series of online activities to facilitate stakeholders from different age and background to immerse themselves in situated scenarios, then to design and visualize their ideal public services in the future. This paper discusses how a participatory approach and design thinking framework have helped the researchers and decision makers collect thick data from the service users, transform user insights into prototypes for reiteration and concrete design principles. On the other hand, how the blurred identities in between observers, participants and designers have stimulated discussions and design possibilities by supplying real-life scenarios and evaluation on solution feasibility. Article citation: 2021 EPIC Proceedings pp 43–57, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic...

Anticipating Needs: How Adopting Trauma-Informed Methodologies During COVID-19 Influenced Our Work Connecting Frontline Workers To Temporary Housing

MEREDITH HITCHCOCK Airbnb.org SADHIKA JOHNSON Independent (formerly Airbnb) This case study argues that all research should be trauma-informed research. It asserts that because researchers cannot anticipate everything about research participants’ needs, histories, and context, taking an approach that assumes all participants are more likely than not to have experienced trauma should be the paradigm for researchers. Even before receiving formal training in trauma-informed research, incorporating methodologies from trauma-informed research can make all researchers more human-centered. From March–April 2020, researchers from Airbnb conducted research to help launch a program that provided free or discounted accommodations to COVID-19 frontline workers: Frontline Stays. The researchers needed to conduct research with both frontline workers and Airbnb hosts who were temporarily opening their homes to them. Some of the researchers had received formal training in trauma-informed research. Others did not have the training, but...

Anticipating the Unanticipated: Ethnography and Crisis Response in the Public Sector

CHRISTINA CHEADLE Stripe Partners HANNAH PATTINSON Surrey County Council This case study emphasizes the importance of ethnographic research in the public sector, specifically regarding emergency preparedness and crisis-response. In the summer of 2020, Surrey County Council in England commissioned a mixed-method Community Impact Assessment to better assist and serve their residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. Stripe Partners conducted the place-based ethnographic work, helping discover insights that led directly to strategy change. The ethnographic and quantitative research went hand-in-hand and led to rich and meaningful insights that were able to confidently convince decision makers to create change. Our ethnographic work validated many of the quantitative findings, while simultaneously providing the depth that allowed them to accurately and most usefully allocate resources for change. We researched how local communities had been affected by Covid, conducting on-the-ground interviews in seven different towns in the region....

Demonstrating the Impact of Ethnography: Chad Maxwell on ROI and New Kinds of Ethnographic Value

"Case studies are about impact and results that were driven by great ethnographic work." Chad Maxwell, Chief Strategy Officer, KSM & Co-chair, EPIC2021 Case Studies
Welcome to EPISODE TWO in a series of conversations with some of the makers and speakers of EPIC2021—a global, virtual conference and community promoting ethnography for impact in business, organizations and communities. In this episode, Luc Aractingi talks with Chad Maxwell, Chief Strategy Officer at Kelly Scott Madison and co-chair of the EPIC2021 Case Studies Committee. Find out how ethnographers demonstrate the impact of their work, and how ethnography can create new kinds of value in the future. TRANSCRIPT LUC: Hello and welcome to EPIC interviews, a series where we get to know the makers and the host of the conference EPIC. This year our theme is anticipation, and today we'll be interviewing Chad Maxwell, who's Chief Strategy Officer at KSM. Chad, thank you for coming. We're very excited to have you here today. Could you tell us more about your role at EPIC? CHAD: Sure. Thanks for having me. It is great to be here. My role at EPIC is I am one of the chairs for the case studies section of the conference. LUC: Could...