Using Ethnographic User Research to Drive Knowledge Management and Intranet Strategy


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Is your organization leveraging its intranet for the bottom line?

Nearly 97% of all pharmacological research experiments fail to make it to human trials. If lessons learned from these failed experiments are not shared effectively, researchers continually recreate failed experiments resulting in great costs to organizations and their customers.

Topics covered:

* Types of user research
* Persona development
* Intranet adoption strategies
* Knowledge management strategies
* Best practices

Bruns and his team shadowed research scientists to learn how and why they shared - and didn't share - their knowledge with their peers. He will discuss findings of how researchers used (and did not use) their existing knowledge management systems, personas of the different types of pharmaceutical researchers (The Conductor, The Expert, The Advice Seeker, The Hermit, The Human Robot, and The Collaborator), strategies for enlisting the participation of the various personas within the organization, recommendations for how to create the next generation of the client's knowledge management intranet, lessons learned from this study, and best practices on conducting ethnographic user research to guide the success of your organization's intranet.

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  • A Lab Head searches through emails, different databases (one on the KM
    Intranet, which doesn’t work), works with her Unit Head on the phone and
    in person.

    In the end, she does not find what she’s looking for.
  • Scientists weren’t averse to using technology

    IT just wasn’t giving them what they wanted
  • Provide greater context around the data in the moment and over time.

  • Make it easier to discover relationships through others and other work (both current and past).
  • Using Ethnographic User Research to Drive Knowledge Management and Intranet Strategy

    1. 1. Using Ethnographic User Research to Drive KM and Intranet Strategy Don Bruns – Senior Consultant
    2. 2. Profile Founded: 2001 Headquarters: McLean, VA Staff: 75+ Culture: Disciplined, innovative, spirit-of-service Ruling Passion: User-experience is the only sustainable competitive advantage online Centers of Excellence: Web Strategy Usability and User Research User Experience Design Social Media Content Management Recognition: Awarded ten 2009 Web Awards from the Web Marketing Association (WMA) 2 NavigationArts is a full-service digital consultancy that helps organizations achieve results via the online channel
    3. 3. Why User Research? • Speed user adoption • Uncover points of resistance • Identify true user needs • Bolsters change management • Serves as the foundation for User Centered Design efforts 3
    4. 4. Definition • Ethnography: Branch of anthropology that describes human societies by conducting field research • Ancient Greek: εθνος + γραφειν – ethnos = people – graphein = writing 4
    5. 5. CASE STUDY 5
    6. 6. About the Client • International pharmaceutical firm • SharePoint-based KM portal for scientists • Decades worth of siloed data • Struggling to achieve user adoption 6
    7. 7. The Problem • 97% of all pharmaceutical experiments fail • Great at recording success stories • Bad at capturing failures • Repeating failed experiments year after year 7 Fritz, Zurich Molecule A + Assay B + Target C = ? Beth, San Francisco Molecule A + Assay B + Target C = X
    8. 8. The Question • How can we encourage scientists to share their failures? • How do we make data from failed experiments available? • How can we help ensure user adoption? “Success is also understanding why something didn’t work.” 8
    9. 9. Stakeholders believed… • Scientists don’t trust management • Scientists are anti-social • Scientists don’t want to use information technology • Scientists compete with each another • Scientists feared that other scientists would steal their work Client brought us in to find out how to overcome this… 9
    10. 10. User Research Plan Facility Tours Orienting the research team to the work environment Shadow Sessions Witnessing how teams work and interactions in the lab Direct Observation Observing interactions in informal settings such as cafeterias, lounges, and hallways One-on-one Interviews Discussing daily activities, needs and motivations in the office or lab Entity Tracking Following a compound for a day Secondary Research Studying trends among competitors and comparable organizations 10
    11. 11. FINDINGS 11
    12. 12. Scientists operate in several modes Conductor Mode Managing disparate tasks or goals toward a common goal. Expert Mode Acting as a reference for a technique, process, or body of knowledge. Advice Seeker Mode Looking for guidance, advice, and reassurance. Hermit Mode A state that requires intense concentration without distraction. Human Robot Mode Conducting repetitive tasks, procedures, and activities with the precision of a machine. Collaborator Mode Proactively and openly sharing expertise and knowledge with others. 12
    13. 13. Most tools were geared toward “Hermit Mode” • Dozens of siloed databases • Decades of data on paper • Current information systems foster isolation – One person: one bench – One person: one computer • Intranet did little to connect scientists and data sources 13
    14. 14. Lack of connections frustrated “Advice Seeker Mode” • Searching for data takes away from "real science“ • Inconsistent metadata – Formula: C22H23FN2O5 – Corp ID: 5128196-01 – ATC code: N06AB10 – PubChem: 146570 • Knowing who to ask > Knowing where to look 14
    15. 15. Right tools in wrong place frustrated “Collaborator Mode” 15 • Management provides tools that scientists ignored – Whiteboards in the hallways and cafeterias are pristine – Glassware in the lab is covered with magic marker – Computers far away from workbenches and equipment • Tools were not integrated into the normal workflow
    16. 16. Distrust of intranet and search hurt every Mode • Takes one bad experience with portal to disillusion scientists • Scientists created their own information systems: – Isolated wikis – Private discussion forums – Local spreadsheets – Massive bookmark lists “I should add this to the database, but my Excel file is more reliable.” 16
    17. 17. Lack of context prevented “Expert Mode” online • Fear of being judged by incomplete work • Concern that information will be used out of context • No way to indicate how “finished” a piece of research is • Scientists need to feel safe about sharing 17
    18. 18. RECOMMENDATIONS 18
    19. 19. Add context to content for “Experts” • Let “Experts” tag content according to readiness • Prevent “Experts” from being judged unfairly based on incomplete work 19
    20. 20. Create connections for “Advice Seekers” • Tag all scientific content according to a core set of metadata • Develop a synonym ring for Compounds • Adopt automated tagging solution • Implement a faster, more robust search tool 20
    21. 21. Create connections online to promote “Collaborator Mode” • Let users share professional interests, experiences, and expertise • Show current research efforts and past projects • Show document uploads and personal contacts • Apply metadata strategy to all intranet content 21
    22. 22. Recommend content and people to “Advice Seekers” • Similar to Facebook or LinkedIn recommendations • Recommend connections based on metadata strategy: – Search patterns – Personal profiles – Document uploads – Current and past activities 22
    23. 23. Visualize the entire body of knowledge • Create mind map to show relationships between: – People – Compounds – Assays – Targets – Experiments – Documents • Allow users to browse and search visually • Can be incorporated with faceted search 23
    24. 24. CONCLUSION 24
    25. 25. Best Practices 1. Any user research is better than none 2. Plan and budget for success 3. Achieve and maintain buy-in from senior leadership 4. Stakeholders are not users 5. Choose the right methods for your needs 6. Capture as much as you can 7. Bring in a neutral observer 8. Avoid analysis paralysis 25
    26. 26. QUESTIONS? Don Bruns 703-584-8966 26