workplace

Should User Research Be Funny?

MEGHAN MCGRATH IBM PechaKucha Presentation The jokes people tell about their work can be a rich source of insight for user researchers. Known as “workplace humor” or “occupational humor,” these jokes refer to experiences where the user's pain or delight is instantly recognizable because it is so pervasive. This PechaKucha will discuss examples and practices your team can use to identify, synthesize, and leverage the occupational humor that resonates with specific classes of users, in order to build a more nuanced understanding of those users. Meghan McGrath is the Design Lead for IBM Z's Security group in New York. 2017 EPIC Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918, epicpeople.org/intelligences)...

Time for a Digital Detox: Burnout, Addiction, and Desperation in Silicon Valley

SHAHEEN AMIREBRAHIMI University of California, Davis PechaKucha Presentation There is a crisis brewing in the innovation capital of the world. From protests at Google bus stops, to rallies at San Francisco City Hall over Airbnb gentrification, to a stark increase in homelessness, there is a growing rift between the have and have not's in Silicon Valley. Meanwhile the average tech employee, told they are “making the world a better place,” is faced with escalating labor demands, hyper-connectivity, and a shift from “work-life balance” to “work is life.” The tech worker is in a contentious position – torn between corporate propaganda and the visible externalities of a for-profit business. To understand how this tension plays out for the average techie, I illustrate a “disconnect camp” where the everyday rules of SF techie sociality are inverted – no technology, no names, no discussion of work, no networking. This carnavlesque pacifies postmodern contradictions about “valueless work” by placing...

Using Your Feet: Subverting the Structure of Meetings to Help Teams Go Further Faster

TOM ROWLEY Stripe Partners PechaKucha Presentation—Meetings are a central part of how we work as commercial ethnographers. We meet with our clients to plan our projects and share our findings. We meet with our informants to explore and understand their worlds. However the cultures and practices that inform meeting behaviour can be antithetical to our goals as researchers through their reinforcement of pre-set patterns of thinking and being. In this presentation I explore how we can challenge the affordances imposed by meeting culture. I draw on my experiences founding a global volunteer network and reframing meeting contexts for corporate clients to challenge conventions and identify fresh opportunities for ethnographic praxis. Tom Rowley is a partner at Stripe Partners, a global strategy and innovation consultancy based in London. He co-founded www.goodfornothing.com a global volunteer network that brings together designers, developers, strategists and researchers to volunteer their skills for positive social causes. 2017...

No One Reason for It: Workforce Diversity, Cultural Complexity, and Staff Retention at BMW MINI

FIONA MOORE Royal Holloway University of London This case study is based on an ethnographic investigation conducted in 2003 at the BMW Plant Oxford automobile factory focusing on issues of staff retention. The study found that the workforce, as well as being diverse in conventional terms, was also divided in less immediately identifiable ways, and different groups within the workplace had quite different expectations from the experience or working there, and a programme to overcome these problems was developed....

Bringing Attention to Problem Solving and Meaningfulness at Work: How Ethnography Can Help Answer Difficult Business Questions

CAROLE CHARLAND Sapiens Strategies Inc. KAREN HOFMAN Sapiens Strategies Inc. A local division of a multinational manufacturer was experiencing declining enagagement and perceptions of leadership (measured in employee satisfaction surveys). In anticipation of coming waves of organizational change, they asked the research team to explore how “nostalgia” may be contributing to these issues and how they might define the unique culture of the division. Combining ethnographic observations with other qualitative methods, across all levels and departments of the plant, the team uncovered other, more critical issues. Having built a trusting relationship with senior management of the plant, the team used extensive work sessions to help them to understand issues from employee perspectives. This new empathy was conveyed during validation session that spurred initiatives to address a variety of isssues that had been contributing to the problems that initially spurred the project....

Disrupting Workspace: Designing an Office that Inspires Collaboration and Innovation

RYOKO IMAI Hitachi America MASAHIDE BAN Hitachi America Case Study—Hitachi America's R&D, comprised of five technical laboratories, opened the Center for Social Innovation in January, 2016. When the new office project emerged, the R&D group used the opportunity to reflect on and strengthen collaborative practices, organizational culture, and our customer engagement approach. We conducted an internal ethnographic study to investigate how space was used in our previous office, and based on our findings designed a new office space to facilitate collaboration and innovation for our group....

Looking to Right-hand Women: Strategies for Shaping Impactful Paths in Business

NATALIA SILVA INSITUM HANNAH PICK McGraw-Hill Education Download PDF PechaKucha—This visual ethnography explores the hypothesis that some women in business subvert traditional power relationships by using existing stereotypes and all other tools at their disposal to become “right-hand women.” Drawing from examples of famous women in business and quotes from qualitative interviews with women from the U.S., Mexico and Colombia, “Looking to Right-Hand Women” tells the story of how some successful, intelligent women across several countries play a behind-the-scenes role in business, strategically impacting and influencing men in leadership positions to directly shape decision-making, and ultimately the path the business takes. Through the lens of navigating the highly nuanced challenges of operating as a woman in today's business world, this visual ethnography uncovers effective strategies for building trust and effecting change in the face of complex power dynamics. These strategies could potentially be applied by consultants...

Translating Infrastructure to Technology

by ALEXANDRA MACK (Pitney Bowes) I spend a lot of time thinking about mail. Actually, I don’t just think about it—I interview and observe people sending things, and it is actually more interesting than watching people lick stamps. As an ethnographer, I look at the overall context of the work and business processes connected to what is sent, as well as the perspectives and values of the various actors involved. These include decision makers who buy postage meters, inserters, or software solutions but may not ever use them, product users, and the people who actually care about what is sent and received. To do something as seemingly mundane as sending documents to a client, for example, a lawyer gives instructions to her assistant, who prints the documents, organizes them and addresses the envelope, then passes to a mail room with instructions on how to send to the end recipient. And this is just a relatively common scenario; more complex interactions and processes of documentation are often involved. On the day-to-day level...

People, the Weak Link in Cyber-security: Can Ethnography Bridge the Gap?

SUSAN SQUIRES University of North Texas MOLLY SHADE University of North Texas Information Technology (IT) professionals are racing to keep up with cyber-security threats in the workplace. But, as any cyber-security expert will tell you, security technology is only as good as the people who use it. And, people are a mystery to most cyber-security professionals making them the weak link for security interventions in organizations. To broadly impact current cyber-security awareness, interventions and education, it is crucial to understand how security is understood and applied by the users of technology. Thus, it is no surprise that more and more cyber-security studies are focusing on the individual employee to understand computer-user risk mediation. However, users and their actions do not exist in a vacuum, and their perceptions and subsequent behaviors regarding security risk are shaped by a vast array of beliefs, social relations and workplace practices. This paper reports on a fresh theoretical approach to cyber-security as a group...

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...

Donna Flynn / A Profile

EPIC Profiles Series by LUIS MACHADO, University of North Texas Walking a Different Path The path of American anthropology is becoming ever more diverse. Under the academic umbrella of Anthropology the world has been explored, analyzed, reflected on, and then determined to be wanting of more exploration. The Indiana Jones stereotype of the archaeologist or anthropologist is still a familiar reference in popular culture, perhaps surpassed for recent generations by Dr. “Bones” and her TV show bearing the same name. Anthropology in common parlance brings to mind the bold researcher off in the exotic far away, taking and studying the strange, bringing it back to the university and, after knocking dust off the hiking boots, demystifying it for the social science community and curious students. Yet, explorers of new kinds of anthropology are changing the conversation about who an anthropologist is and what they can do. Donna Flynn is one such anthropologist, creating and expanding these new frontiers. Donna Flynn is Vice President...

Quotidian Ritual and Work-Life Balance: An Ethnography of Not Being There

, , and This paper reports on current interdisciplinary design research that explores values held by individuals in their performance of everyday or ‘quotidian’ rituals in family life. The work is focused on mobile workers who may be away from home and family for extended and/or regular periods of time. During the course of the…

A Perfect Storm? Reimagining Work in the Era of the End of the Job

MELISSA CEFKIN, OBINNA ANYA and ROBERT MOORE Trends of independent workers, an economy of increasingly automated processes and an ethos of the peer-to-peer “sharing economy” are all coming together to transform work and employment as we know them. Emerging forms of “open” and “crowd” work are particularly keen sites for investigating how the structures and experiences of work, employment and organizations are changing. Drawing on research and design of work in organizational contexts, this paper explores how experiences with open and crowd work systems serve as sites of workplace cultural re-imagining. A marketplace, a crowdwork system and a crowdfunding experiment, all implemented within IBM, are examined as instances of new workplace configurations....

Ethnography, Storytelling, and the Cartography of Knowledge in a Global Organization: How a Minor Change in Research Design Influenced the Way Our Team Sees, and is Seen by Our Organization.

JAY DAUTCHER and MIKE GRIFFIN Our team unites qualitative researchers, designers, and prototyping engineers to investigate workplace technologies using a four-step process: ethnography, analysis, intervention, measurement. Projects develop in relation to the needs of internal corporate units identified as project stakeholders. An experiment with a more ethnography-centered research approach, conducted without a specific internal sponsor, led us to develop findings we believed could benefit many groups in our organization—designers, product teams, salespeople, corporate strategists—but presented us with some unfamiliar challenges. First, we needed new storytelling and social media tools to disseminate our message. Second, we needed a way to find out who, in our organization of 75,000 globally distributed employees, might value our findings. In response, we initiated an internal project investigating and mapping out social networks of knowledge exchange and strategic influence in our company. We foresee using this strategy map to...