advanced training series

The advanced training series is a deep dive into doing better research that will guide the direction of your product with less unconscious bias & greater clarity of opportunities.

There are several courses available, where each course:

This is an advanced series of courses for product owners, innovators, developers, strategists, designers & researchers. There are prerequisites listed for each course.

You will learn how to get a deep understanding of people. This is something that probably nobody else has ever taught you. If you’re truly interested in getting the most out of your research interviews, then this course is a must! What you’ll learn is not only a valuable professional skill but also a life skill.” -Sonja, May-2018, Combing & Summaries

courses & schedules

Listening Deeply - planned for Jul/Aug 2019

Listening Deeply – This is the key to developing deep enough understanding to create a mental model diagram or thinking-style segments. A listening session is very different than an interview. Learn how to let the participant direct the conversation and how to encourage the participant to uncover their deeper reasoning, reactions, and guiding principles.

Prerequisite – none

Understand What Was Said (unbiased data analysis) - January 2019

Americas/Europe/Africa: Wednesday Jan 09, 16, 23, 30 – four sessions

Australia/India/Asia: Saturday Jan 12, 19, 26, Feb 02 – four sessions

Understand What Was Said – Bias-free analysis of transcripts … The second key to mental model diagrams and thinking-style segments is taking time to develop cognitive empathy before going into data synthesis. Learn to pull quotes from a transcript together to form a concept, and to summarize that concept in a way that makes later comprehension easier. Homework requires Google sheets access.

Prerequisite – either the advanced course Listening Deeply, or reading Chapter 4 in Practical Empathy, or Indi’s Fundamentalsworkshop. Recommended reading: Listening Well by William Miller. Recommended listening: Generating Focused Ideas webinar, Enabling Empathy presentation. Please also take advantage of the materials on this site.

Research “insights” – the junk food of product teams

Everyone wants something fabulous, surprising, and worthwhile from their research. Most teams know the context they’re working within is complex and the people they support are complicated, so they do their research in focused chunks to shed light on discrete parts of the situation. But what many teams end up sharing out to those who will use the new information is a bit more randomly chosen than it could be. “Give me a couple of good insights,” they’re told. “What are the highlights?” “Trends?” “Pain points?”

Research teams respond by providing a “summary” format of what they found–and literally this set of insights consists of a list of things they heard frequently. When creating this list, it takes a well-trained mind not to fall prey to cognitive bias. When you come at data from a top-down approach, the concepts that you’ve already become interested in get emphasized in what you remember from the data. Bottom-up analysis is the best way to avoid cognitive bias and let the data tell you what it really means.

Very few research teams actually conduct bottom-up analysis.

If you want to bring rock-solid, reliable information to your organization, you need to know how. This kind of deep analysis is not taught as a part of most user experience coursework. It requires keeping a neutral mindset and looking at the transcripts for types of concepts, not concept meaning. The meaning will bias you toward the things you are already interested in. Types of concepts, however, enables a bit of neutrality. Once you pull those types out and summarize them, you will have a true set of concepts that were actually expressed. Learn true, unbiased analysis technique.

Cultivate the Patterns - Feb/Mar 2019

Americas/Europe/Africa: Wednesday Feb 27, Mar 06, <skip a week>, 20, 27 – four sessions

Australia/India/Asia: Saturday Mar 02, 09, <skip a week>, 23, 30 – four sessions

sign up below

Note: Indi is doing a thinking-styles workshop and a talk at the Convey UX Seattle conference the week of 11-Mar, so that week will be skipped in our schedule above.

Also Note: You can sign up after the first class and catch up by watching the first recording. HOWEVER, after 05-Mar the first session recording will disappear. Recordings are only available for one week after each session.

Cultivate the Patterns – Synthesis of the summaries across participants is based on affinity, but one place where practitioners go wrong is to find noun-based affinities. To create a mental model diagram, learn how to create verb-based affinities, based on the intent of the participant. Homework requires Google sheets access.

Prerequisite – either the advanced course Understand What Was Said or reading Chapter 5 in Practical Empathy. Please also take advantage of the materials on this site.

Have you formally learned qualitative data affinity grouping?

Product design is full of decisions, and smart orgs base those decisions on an equal combination of quantitative & qualitative research. Qualitative research seems to be the poor cousin, though, with respect to formalizing the process. Many product managers & user experience researchers learn on-the-job how to do affinity grouping. Affinity grouping often involves many sticky notes and very quick decision making based on intuitive understanding of how concepts fit together. That intuitive understanding is based on … what foundation?

For folks who grew up with the kids TV show Sesame Street, there was a game called “one of these things is not like the others.” They would put pictures of four things up on a board, and the muppets in the show would guess which one was “unlike” the other based on various facets. When I was a kid, the show producers always made the game end with one correct answer, but society now has a better understanding that there can be different answers based on different perspectives. For example, in the image below, what things go together?

It depends upon context. If you are training for a marathon, then the running shorts, socks, and tunes might go together. If you’re at practice for your football/soccer team, then the shorts, socks, and cleats might go together. There might be other contexts, too, resulting in different groups.

How is your foundation for affinity grouping?

In the case of problem-space research, context will define your perspective. Thinking-styles will define your perspective.

Synthesis of the concept summaries across participants is based on similarity between concepts, and one place practitioners also go wrong is to find noun-based affinities. To create a mental model diagram and thinking-style segments, you will want to learn how to find affinities based on verbs–the action within the context.

A second area where practitioners go wrong is to let cognitive bias creep in, rather than using a neutral mindset to allow the data to group together from the bottom-up.

Let Indi show you how to do this properly.

Mental Model Diagram Usage - planned for Apr/May 2019

Creating mental model diagrams & aligning/layering data – If you have worked with your data in digital form, it is easy to pass it through the mental model diagram generator to get a visual deliverable. The part that takes skill is aligning your business and product support beneath the towers. Learn to do this as well as layer in data from other research studies. Then Indi will review various ways that people have put mental model diagrams to use.

Prerequisite – reading the introduction to Practical Empathy or attending Indi’s Fundamentals workshop. Recommended reading: Chapters 10 & 12 in Mental Models, Chapter 6 in Practical Empathy. Please also take advantage of the materials on this site.

Thinking-style Segments - planned for May/June 2019

Thinking-style Segments – Thinking-style segments represent behavioral and reasoning differences between generalized sets of people, which are much more reliable and flexible than demographic & psychographic descriptions of sets of people. Learn how to compare participant descriptions to find unique-but-in-common philosophies, then create segments representing different approaches people have for different contexts. Homework requires Google sheets access.

Prerequisite – reading the introduction to Practical Empathy or attending Indi’s Fundamentals workshop. Please also take advantage of the materials on this site.

“The course is a great way to practice the skills you learn from the book and during the course. And you get real time feedback from Indi and everyone attending the course! I attended the listening sessions in hope to improve how things are done at work, and I’m thoroughly surprised on how these skills apply to every aspect of my life. Practicing the lessons taught in the course is hard, but practice is important and I find it valuable considering how well I’m able to connect with people now.” -Lien, Oct-2018, Listening Deeply

sign up

A four-week series is $776 per person. This one price covers all four classes. Before each class Indi will email you a slide deck that will accompany the class. After each class Indi will email you a link to the recording of that class, in case you want to review.

  • If you’re not affiliated with a company that has an education plan, please sign up here for a 50% discount. (I totally get this; I’m in this group, myself.)
  • If you want a group discount, please contact me
  • If your currency exchange rate is awful, I can make a generous adjustment. Please contact me.
  • Recordings are not downloadable.
  • Recordings are only available for a week.
  • Refunds are possible prior to your start date.

“Do it – it’s incredibly useful regardless of your experience. Classes feel personal because the groups are small and there is plenty of opportunity to do practical work to help you understand it better.” -Debbie, Oct-2018, Listening Deeply

“Good use of time – active sessions and very worthwhile. The sessions are delivered well. Indi is an expert and its a great opportunity to learn.” -Jane, Oct-2018, Listening Deeply

recordings-only access

You can buy recordings-only access for $194 per person for a 4-week series. Indi will not review your homework with this option. After each class Indi will email you a link to the recording of that class.

The recording will be available on Zoom for one week until the following class, at which point it gets replaced by the new recording.

  • If you want a group discount, please contact me
  • If your currency exchange rate is awful, I can make an adjustment. Please contact me.
  • Recordings are not downloadable.
  • Recordings are only available for a week.
  • Refunds are possible prior to your start date.

“The recording was great, especially because I could control the speed. I was worried at first that by not directly participating in the class I might miss out on something. But this series was very information-rich. So I felt like watching the recording was about as helpful as directly participating, and I was fully engaged.” -Yousef, July-2018, Listening Sessions

about recordings

The spirit of the recordings is to motivate you to make time to watch each session within a week of the other sessions. This way the concepts you learn from session to session will weave together in a more solid manner. Then you will be more likely to be able to apply these concepts in your own work.

  • The Americas/Africa/Europe sessions will be recorded each week. Zoom only has room for one class recording. Everyone signing up for either Americas/Africa/Europe or Australia/India/Asia will have access to the recording.
  • Recordings are not downloadable, so this isn’t a good option for people who will be on holiday during a series. I will teach the series again a few months later, so sign up then and please take advantage of the books and materials on this site in the meantime.
  • The recording will be available on Zoom for one week until the following class, at which point it gets replaced by the new recording. The idea is to give you incentive to watch each class in a regular succession, so that what you learn in each session is more likely to stay in your mind.
  • There is a $50 fee to get access to a recording that has been deleted. So if some emergency happens and you miss a week, all is not lost.

Recordings-only access is a good way to learn, but the true value of these advanced training courses is the in-person aspect and access to Indi. Possibly we’ll launch a parallel series that is simply the lectures, which will be available indefinitely.

“Although I watched only the recorded sessions, even so it was inspiring listen to the tips, watch the live exercises among the people and listen to the questions & answers about the topics. I could feel like I know the people along each session.” -Renato, June-2018, Listening Sessions

a class for each hemisphere


Wednesdays: 10:30am – 12:00pm San Francisco time (GMT-7 DST)
Duration: 1.5 hours (sometimes runs 15 minutes longer for questions)

11:30am San Salvador
12:30pm Chicago
1:30pm New York
2:30pm São Paulo
5:30pm Reykjavik
6:30pm London
7:30pm Cape Town
8:30pm Jerusalem

(check the time in your location)
(what if I can’t make one of the sessions in a series?)


Saturdays: (6pm Friday San Francisco time –depends on relative daylight savings)
Duration: 1.5 hours (sometimes runs 15 minutes longer for questions)

10:00am Beijing
10:00am Hong Kong
7:30am Kolkata
1:00pm Melbourne

7:30am Mumbai
10:00am Singapore
1:00pm Sydney
3:00pm Wellington

We use Zoom for each session, so you will need to have a device, earbuds/headphones, and a good internet connection. Plugging in works more reliably than wi-fi. Laptops works better than phones for stability of imagery and size of shared slide deck.

Certificate of Problem Space Research

You will qualify for a Certificate of Problem Space Research if you fulfill all three of the following:

  1. You attend the sessions live, where Indi has a chance to assess your level of learning
  2. You complete all homework assignments and relate your experiences during class
  3. You complete all the courses (in any order)

After each session I give participants homework that will take 30-60 minutes to complete. The homework for some of the series will involve the use of Google sheets (as noted in the schedule), so you will want to have an account in those cases. You don’t have to do any homework, but trying it out yourself away from the group setting really helps you understand the technique. It also gives you the chance to form questions for Indi during the next session.

what if I can’t make a session?

If you have to miss a session, there is a recording of the session and the homework assignment so you can catch up; the recording is available online for a week. Recordings are not downloadable.

more testimonials

Unlike most workshops and seminars that give only an introduction to a topic or theoretical examples, Indi’s series makes you feel confident you are getting a deep level of training applicable in a professional setting.” -S., May 2018, Combing & Summaries

The framework you will learn here is invaluable whether or not your end-goal is mental-models. It helps you divide the shapeless mass of an interview into purposefully formatted chunks. These will then enable you to have meaningful discussions about qualitative data. Not only that, you will also learn what makes for a rich and useful listening session.” -Yousef, May-2018, Combing & Summaries

Indi’s combing & summaries training series helps you break down people’s thinking into it’s core elements, allowing you to capture the full-depth of what people say. Without a doubt, the skills from this training series improved my ability to turn my research into impactful insights that help organizations step into their target audiences’ shoes.” -Eddie, May-2018, Combing & Summaries

“You’re gonna love it, the group format really helps a lot as people bring in lots of interesting questions that you could never think of, and Indi answers each of them patiently. That and the discussions that follow them are really invaluable and rare online. You’ll not feel rushed and left out; Indi makes sure every participant feels heard via the live exercises she does and homework review. You’ll be equipped with a set of techniques that you can practice while talking to people, but it would take a long time for them to internalize. Indi herself mentions it took her a year of practice to do so.” -Raghav, Oct-2018, Listening Deeply

“Make enough time to see the recordings, because they are almost 2 hours in length. Watch each of them one or two times to make sure everything is well understood. There is no other training like this for user researchers that want to learn how to listen, understand and empathize with people.” -Maria, Oct-2018, Listening Deeply

“Doing listening sessions is unlike any other form of design research that we’re used to. It has more in common with formal ethnography or therapy rather than with user interviews. But that shouldn’t scare you away. This makes it a very challenging and at the same time, a truly worthwhile and rewarding approach. There is no better person than Indi to teach you how to go beyond generalities with people and really understand their perspectives, no matter whether your purpose is to work through a challenge with a colleague or to deepen your understanding of people your company is supposed to serve.” -Sonja, Oct-2018, Listening Deeply