In the spring of 2015, 210 women in Silicon Valley in senior technology positions participated in a survey. The results of the survey was published as Elephant in the Valley, with hope to raise awareness about issues facing women in the workplace. One of the survey results stated 60% of women in tech have experienced sexual harassment. Read More

Most orgs imagine they understand the problem, but don’t take time to research it. They are content to use what they imagine as the basis for developing their solution. The problem space is where they’ll get their strongest insights and innovations, but you wouldn’t suspect this based on the amount of effort put toward exploring their solution and the people using it. Read More

What Is a Research Scope?

Scoping is figuring out what, exactly, to explore for a study. It’s a Goldilocks problem: you don’t want the scope too broad, or you will not see patterns appear in the data, but you don’t want it too narrow, or the participants will tell you everything they have to say about it in five minutes. You want to get the scope just right–somewhere in between these two extremes. Read More

Warning Signs When to Do This Research

You don’t have to do research. If you’re an artist or a chef or a writer, you produce what is inside you to inspire or delight your audience. People buy your product for these feelings.* But if you’re an organization with products and services designed to support people, such as an insurance company, a library, or a data management company, it’s a big risk to operate like an artist. Assumptions will lead you astray, and your competition will be the people who are delighted. Developing ideas based on superficial, quickly-generated understanding of how people are thinking is not wise. But neither is doing so much research that you delay production of your ideas. So, when should you do this kind of deep research?
Read More

When you look at the steps in a method, you suppose each of them requires the same amount of attention. But when the rubber meets the road, certain steps require a lot more effort, and other steps seem like they can be safely shortcut. Unfortunately, understanding and defining the problem an organization aims to solve is hard to do well, and therefore it gets only rough consideration.
Read More

In business, there always seems to be the latest silver bullet methodology. It gets a lot of attention, articles, and talks. It works well in certain situations and these successes get written up. Everyone wants to be like the company with the success, so they adopt the methodology. But like nutrition, a healthy organization consumes inspiration and understanding from a balanced variety of sources. Read More

This case study aims to encourage you to get some problem-facing research started, using practical empathy and mental model diagrams. Researching the problem (as opposed to the solution) is a lot easier than you might suspect. So here’s the example: I studied how dogs maximize their experiences of the last day or two. Read More

It’s an uphill battle–trying to convince others at your organization to pay attention to empathy-based research. Yet, you are not alone. There are many barriers practitioners face, and often these are so tangled up with other issues that even a determined person will eventually give up trying. I want to help you make the research happen. I have some advice in nine areas that you can use to make headway … so you can turn “we haven’t gotten underway yet” into “we start today.” Read More

A user is someone who has a relationship with your organization. When you say the word “user,” you mean someone who has already reached out to you. When an organization puts resources toward “user research,” they are only covering their own perspective. They risk ignoring all the people think differently and don’t reach out to them, but whom they might want to support. Read More

True story: I was walking down to the bakery last Spring when I turned a corner and encountered a woman in a rust-colored down vest walking her little brown wiry-haired dog. The dog started barking when it saw me from about 30 feet away. I just kept walking. And about two seconds later, the dog ran straight at me still barking ferociously. From three feet away it launched itself at me and bit my hand. Read More