Instructor: JO AIKEN, Google
Learn strategies to design research of inaccessible or future environments.
This tutorial was conducted at EPIC2021. Exercises and discussions have been omitted to protect the privacy of participants.
Ethnographers seek insights by studying people in their natural environments. What if the thing you are designing will not be used for 20–40 years from now? What if the natural context is inaccessible—an infrequent event, a dangerous environment, an exclusive space? How do you understand environments and users that do not yet exist?
This tutorial breaks down the complexity of conducting ethnographic research of environments that are unknown or inaccessible. Using real NASA case studies, Jo will walk you through frameworks and methods, such as analogs and scenario testing, for conducting practical research when you can’t get to the “real” field site. This interactive tutorial will include a combination of presented content, small-group activities, and discussion.
by CAITLIN MCCURRIE, Atlassian
For the best-quality insights, design research for the experience of participating, not the method alone.
When you think of running a diary study, we guess that Confluence isn’t the first research tool that comes to mind. Confluence is best known as a tool for knowledge management and team collaboration and not a platform to host a diary study, but with limitation comes creativity. In an effort to overcome the limitations in our research process we discovered an innovative and sustainable means to interact with our user population. From adapting Confluence into a longitudinal research tool to removing research tools and touchpoints, we’ve redesigned our research process to support ongoing contact with our user population. Through our journey, we’ve found three key learnings that have removed friction in the participation experience and improved the quality of our work.
Design with your participant’s experience in mind, not just your preferred methodology.
Use your knowledge of your population’s...
By MIKKEL KRENCHEL, ReD Associates
Three strategies for designing research that captures the social forces shaping people's behavior.
Remember the days when a main challenge of the EPIC community was convincing executives that humans weren’t just rational actors all the time? Back when arguing for the value of ethnographic research, thick data, and so forth, started with getting executives to realize that there was more to people than what could be observed through a spreadsheet?
Fortunately, those days are long gone. Today, most successful leaders of large corporations readily embrace the idea that humans are complex, emotional creatures and that the success of their business in large part rests on making the right bets on how they will behave. In response, research departments across the corporate world have grown exponentially in both size and sophistication, and ‘ethnographic research’ as a term has almost gone mainstream.
It would be easy to conclude that it’s time to declare victory. But if you look a little closer...
MEENA KOTHANDARAMAN & ZARLA LUDIN
twig + fish
It’s not enough to hire a great researcher: organizations need the capacity to develop and learn from strategic, credible research. Participants in this tutorial will learn and practice a tool for cultivating that capacity that can be used with stakeholders, teams, or clients.
A central challenge for organizations is the inchoate nature of addressing “unknowns.” Too often, they misalign questions with objectives, confuse organizational agendas with research questions, lead with method, use inappropriate metrics of success, over-simplify complex human dynamics, and set unrealistic expectations for data. The NCredible Framework meets the challenge by approaching the research process as an organizational strategy. It is a simple but flexible process for aligning stakeholders around well-defined questions, defining research scope, designing credible studies, and learning from findings.
Participants in this tutorial will learn to:
An EPIC Talk with MEENA KOTHANDARAMAN & ZARLA LUDIN, twig+fish
Approx 78 min
Human-centered research practices embedded in business contexts have matured to a problematic inflection point. Called upon as a means of finding answers to human complexities, qualitative research is often measured against misappropriated metrics of success. Time, money, efficiency, and return on investment have been artificially applied to demonstrate value to the rest of the business. Although these metrics are meaningful to a business at large, they can diminish the credibility of a nuanced research engagement. This false tie leads to tendencies behind research practices that no longer service the domain of human-centered research—that even hurt it. Leading with method, over-simplifying complex human dynamics, misaligning questions with objectives, and setting unrealistic expectations of data gathering are just some of these responsive tendencies. Research can no longer be a gratuitous technique, conjured...
Case Study—This case explores a research and consulting engagement whose goal was to build an investment case for a new type of 21st century gym for the spirit, mind, and body. The client, a group of well-funded U.S. entrepreneurs, wanted to design and launch a venture that would be positioned to serve the emerging spiritual needs of the proximal future (2-15 years). While the founders were themselves involved in meditation, belief-dependent realism, and a loose collection of westernized oriental and mystic practices and beliefs, they had not yet defined the venture's specific offering. They suspected that (a) the dominant sociocultural climate of rationalism (e.g. rationalized life choices/paths derived from rationalized worldviews, disengaged relationship with the body and emotion, cynically-motivated wealth creation, etc.) and the lack of embodied and experience-based decision-making and living practices were at the core of a generalized social malaise, and that (b) decoding it and designing a venture...
Ethnography is closely associated with the core qualitative methods of interviewing and observation. But ethnographers in business often work with a broad range of other methods, from video and diary studies to surveys and sensors. This tutorial examines the relationship between research and design, producing data and producing things. It considers the research process as a design process and a wide range of methods across the research and design spectrum. Participants engaged in active exercises to examine creativity, complexity, compromise and choice in research design, and consider the role of stakeholder thinking. Finally, the tutorial encouraged researchers to conceptualize their work as a long-term endeavor beyond the boundaries of a discrete project, with tips for organizing data and files as well as creating quality criteria.
Participants were asked to prepare for this workshop by exploring and perhaps journaling about past projects that did not provide clients with their desired outcomes. They considered...