Advancing the Value of Ethnography

What You Find When You Find No One: Finding the Light out of Darkness


Cite this article:

“What You Find When You Find No One: Finding the Light Out of Darkness,” Laura Janisse & Frances DiMare Dailey. 2023 EPIC Proceedings p 585

Researchers gain powerful, unexpected insights when participant recruitment for a study fails.

In the past year, our team encountered unexpected friction when recruiting efforts resulted in zero participants for two different user populations on two health projects. For one project, we were searching for women experiencing pain related to their perimenopause. And for the other project, we were searching for people who were in early stages of their chronic kidney disease. We hadn’t experienced finding no one before. We were forced to pause and question our approach and work. It all felt heavy – zero recruits, the need to find direction for what to do next, and ability to discover the insight for why this happened. Finding no one had critical design and business impact for our team and cross-functional partners. Join us as we share how we emerged from the darkness of zero, how we found motivation to push through and unpack the friction, and how we ended up in a better position because of zero. We hope our story helps the community see friction as a gift when they encounter it in the future, and that it inspires us, as research practitioners, to question what blind spots might exist within our practice and work.

Laura Janisse is a research and design leader within digital health. She leads strategy efforts for Bayer’s Digital Health Product Design team, helping set the vision and development for phase 0-to-1 solutions. Her work informs the creation of experiences that delivers positive health outcomes, and moments of joy, for users.

Frances DiMare Dailey uses strategy and design research to solve for large scale needs within healthcare. She has led experience innovation projects, invented the first flushable pregnancy test, and developed software products for the life sciences industry. Today she develops new digital product strategies for patients from within Bayer.


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