So I got involved in discussion about how a writer defined “active listening” in a UX Booth article:

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On my latest client project, we experienced the typical madness around recruiting. The people we thought we set out to find didn’t define themselves the way we did, resulting in a mid-course correction. And then even with the new definition of whom we were seeking, the recruiting firm couldn’t find enough people. We had to step in and recruit for ourselves. Read More

In the design and creation of products, services, or software, most organizations follow a cyclical approach. The idea is that past work informs future work. The cycle goes by many names Read More

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?
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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.
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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