Magic... or structured analysis?Giles Colbornecxpartners    @gilescolborne                           http://www.flickr.com/...
This is Sarah. i visited                 her researching how                 people buy from online                 auctio...
...She ran up to herroom and gotthese - designertrousers boughton ebay. When yougo into the field,you discover theanswers ...
We need to getinto the field. Andas contextmatters more, theneed is growing.  @gilescolborne                      http://w...
but contextualresearch is moreexpensive. And it’shard to convincebudget holders topay it when thepremise is: ‘we don’tknow...
Field research yields                         ’slots of useless data. it                        atinteresting to know thwh...
And the outside                 world is such an                 unpredictable                 place, that luck           ...
Unknown insights  irrelevant insights  Out of scope insights  Just plain unlucky                 So that’s field          ...
years ago, i asked an                                        d                 expert how to plan fiel                 res...
Would you trustsomeone who was goingto use magic? i’D want toknow what they had uptheir sleeve.So can we be morestructured...
When we research, we’relooking for leveragepoints - small changesthat can make a bigdifference. They’re easyto find in lab...
in the lab, you have aparticipant and acomputer. it’s easy to see where the leverage points are. you can change the user (...
in field studies,it’s harder tosee where theleverage points might be.     @gilescolborne
Donella meadows was a                       edsystems analyst involvin environmentaleconomics. She identified12 leverage p...
Constants, parameters, numbers                                                The size of buffers and other stabilizing st...
Constants, parameters, numbers                The size of buffers and other stabilizing stocks                Structure of...
Constants, parameters, numbers      Physical                 The size of buffers and other stabilizing stocks             ...
so a friend creating amobile train ticketingapp watched users tosee how long theystood in line fortickets at rush hour.  @...
He figured that they                 had to be able to                 download the app and                 buy before the...
Constants, parameters, numbers            The size of buffers and other stabilizing stocks            Structure of materia...
online                 When we redesigned the                                          r a train                 ticket bu...
t                 They didn’t have the righ                 info. So we added clues                 to the buying process ...
conceptual layer            Constants, parameters, numbersis about ‘what is it            The size of buffers and other st...
a                  when i was researching                                           for                  travel-agent extr...
edPeople like gail who work                         setat a small travel agentup their computers just                     ...
Gail                                used        But Gail and Robin bothRobin   RSS feeds - getting the                    ...
Physical         refining  Logical          spec’ing  Conceptual       Scope                                          ,   ...
when you’re planningresearch, you can                       d thebrainstorm the user an                        ht wecontex...
Three types of observation                 Then look for actionab                                                         ...
ars                 My expert friend had ye                                           ed                 of experience whi...
What about luck? Canwe get over the riskof bad luck? Dr.Richard Wiseman hasstudied people whoappear to be ‘lucky’and notic...
Social connectionsListen to your inner voiceTake control     They develop large, stro                                     ...
Prepare like crazy - so you can wing it.    conan o’brien@gilescolborne
Magic... or structured analysis?•   Prepare by acting out the experience and the context•   Ask yourself where you’d find t...
keep something up yoursleeve. Tell them: wefound 23 potential                        dleverage points. We nee             ...
giles.colborne@cxpartners.co.uk                       @gilescolborne           follow cxpartners on Slideshare.net@gilesco...
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Field Studies: Magic or structured analysis? Giles Colborne

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How can you predict the value of contextual research? What types of insight can you expect to get? @gilescolborne's slides from UPA 2011
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Field Studies: Magic or structured analysis? Giles Colborne

  1. 1. Magic... or structured analysis?Giles Colbornecxpartners @gilescolborne http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4027405671/
  2. 2. This is Sarah. i visited her researching how people buy from online auctions. She said: i’d never buy clothes from ebay. But when i asked her to show me a favourite purchase...@gilescolborne
  3. 3. ...She ran up to herroom and gotthese - designertrousers boughton ebay. When yougo into the field,you discover theanswers you get inthe lab may not bethe whole story. Dolce & Gabbana! @gilescolborne
  4. 4. We need to getinto the field. Andas contextmatters more, theneed is growing. @gilescolborne http://www.flickr.com/photos/32615508@N02/3047982712
  5. 5. but contextualresearch is moreexpensive. And it’shard to convincebudget holders topay it when thepremise is: ‘we don’tknow what we’ll find out but it’ll be cool.’ They won’t let me @gilescolborne http://www.flickr.com/photos/cayusa/2666070091/
  6. 6. Field research yields ’slots of useless data. it atinteresting to know thwhere you keep yourphone says somethingabout how you use it - but that won’t help me design a mobile app. @gilescolborne http://www.flickr.com/photos/niyam/2105979190/
  7. 7. And the outside world is such an unpredictable place, that luck plays a part in getting field research right.@gilescolborne
  8. 8. Unknown insights irrelevant insights Out of scope insights Just plain unlucky So that’s field research. i need a way of understanding where i might get value. And of training colleagues to do it.@gilescolborne
  9. 9. years ago, i asked an d expert how to plan fiel research. she said - get . out there and just do it That makes it sound like we arrive at results by magic.@gilescolborne
  10. 10. Would you trustsomeone who was goingto use magic? i’D want toknow what they had uptheir sleeve.So can we be morestructured? @gilescolborne http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4027405671/
  11. 11. When we research, we’relooking for leveragepoints - small changesthat can make a bigdifference. They’re easyto find in lab studiesbecause you cut out all variables.the @gilescolborne http://www.flickr.com/photos/thalamus/2690847744/
  12. 12. in the lab, you have aparticipant and acomputer. it’s easy to see where the leverage points are. you can change the user (hard!) or the device (easier). @gilescolborne
  13. 13. in field studies,it’s harder tosee where theleverage points might be. @gilescolborne
  14. 14. Donella meadows was a edsystems analyst involvin environmentaleconomics. She identified12 leverage points whereyou can influence a complex system Donella meadows @gilescolborne
  15. 15. Constants, parameters, numbers The size of buffers and other stabilizing stocks More profound effect Structure of material stocks and flowsEasier to notice Length of delays, relative to the rate of system changes Strength of negative feedback loops Strength of positive feedback loops Structure of information flow Rules of the system Power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure Goal of the system Mindset or paradigm from which the system arises Power to transcend paradigms @gilescolborne
  16. 16. Constants, parameters, numbers The size of buffers and other stabilizing stocks Structure of material stocks and flows Length of delays, relative to the rate of system changes Strength of negative feedback loops Strength of toShe was applying this positive feedback loops andsystems in economicsinformation flow Structure ofthe enviro nment, but wecan apply this to our system Rules of theinformation systems,change, evolve, or self-organize system structure Power to add, stoo. Still a list of 12 item Goal simplifyis complex. let’s of the systemit to make it easier to Mindset or paradigm from which the system arises apply. Power to transcend paradigms @gilescolborne
  17. 17. Constants, parameters, numbers Physical The size of buffers and other stabilizing stocks Structure of material stocks and flows Length of delays, relative to the rate of system changes Strength of negative feedback loopsThe physical layer isof positive feedback loops Strengthabout properties andresources. The speed information flow Structure ofof a computer Rules of the systemnetwork, the amountof time it takes to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure Power tocomplete a task. of the system Goal Para meters that affect a system. Mindset or paradigm from which the system arises Power to transcend paradigms @gilescolborne
  18. 18. so a friend creating amobile train ticketingapp watched users tosee how long theystood in line fortickets at rush hour. @gilescolborne http://www.flickr.com/photos/macspite/877883222/
  19. 19. He figured that they had to be able to download the app and buy before they got to the front of a ticket line. So a constraint that he had to meet.@gilescolborne http://www.flickr.com/photos/macspite/877883222/
  20. 20. Constants, parameters, numbers The size of buffers and other stabilizing stocks Structure of material stocks and flows Length of delays, relative to the rate of system changes Strength of negative feedback loops Logical Strength of positive feedback loops Structure of information flow Rules of the system the logical layer is about what Power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize is information system structure Goal of the system available, to whom and what it does. You can Mindset or paradigm from which late that to the re the system arises Power to transcend paradigms content and functionality specs for a system.@gilescolborne
  21. 21. online When we redesigned the r a train ticket buying service fo ople at company, we watched pe people train stations. We saw ains that arriving, looking for tr ’t weren’t listed. They hadn ral realised there were seve ey’d gone mainline stations and th missed to the wrong one. They their trains.@gilescolborne
  22. 22. t They didn’t have the righ info. So we added clues to the buying process so they’d know which stations they were choosing. And we added maps to the print-outs, . so they’d be doubly sure in other words, we changed the spec.@gilescolborne
  23. 23. conceptual layer Constants, parameters, numbersis about ‘what is it The size of buffers and other stabilizing stockswe should bedoing?’ the scope of material stocks and flows Structureof the solution. Length of delays, relative to the rate of system changes Strength of negative feedback loops Strength of positive feedback loops Structure of information flow Rules of the system Conceptual Power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure Goal of the system Mindset or paradigm from which the system arises Power to transcend paradigms @gilescolborne
  24. 24. a when i was researching for travel-agent extranet an airline i visited travel agents big and small. People like Robin who worked in a big travel Gail on agent had strict limits web access. we’d have needed to get the it department to agree to give him access to the extranet.Robin @gilescolborne
  25. 25. edPeople like gail who work setat a small travel agentup their computers just ’show they liked. But gail edcolleagues each favour oulddifferent websites. it w Gail tobe hard to get them all adopt the site. So there was really no et. audience for the extran Robin @gilescolborne
  26. 26. Gail used But Gail and Robin bothRobin RSS feeds - getting the right airline’s info onto the ent, feeds was a more effici effective solution. of so we changed the scope the project. @gilescolborne
  27. 27. Physical refining Logical spec’ing Conceptual Scope , So now we’ve got a quick easy to use model for of figuring out what kinds for leverage points to look ject - and what kinds of pro they’ll be useful in.@gilescolborne
  28. 28. when you’re planningresearch, you can d thebrainstorm the user an ht wecontext. Ask - what mig s besee? what might the userdoing? This helps prime you for the kinds of observation you might make. Cluster these into rough timelines. @gilescolborne
  29. 29. Three types of observation Then look for actionab le observations (ones you can turn into physical constraints, logical specs or conceptual Actionable scopes). Actionable observation observations are Things you can influence. Link ‘context’context observations (thingsobservation context you can’t use, but which . observation support and add flavour Some observations will be unconnected. Now you have your leverage points. un-connected observation @gilescolborne
  30. 30. ars My expert friend had ye ed of experience which prim her about what to pay attention to. But she couldn’t explain that unconscious knowledge. ne This method helps anyo eld prime themselves for fi w research. And helps sho t you your budget holder wha might find.@gilescolborne
  31. 31. What about luck? Canwe get over the riskof bad luck? Dr.Richard Wiseman hasstudied people whoappear to be ‘lucky’and noticed that theyhave some commontraits. Dr. Richard Wiseman @gilescolborne
  32. 32. Social connectionsListen to your inner voiceTake control They develop large, stro ng can networks of friends whoExpect mistakes help them. They listen to ow their inner voice and kn eling. when they have a bad fe e They take control of th ce. things they can influen ere And they accept that th wilL be mistakes due to . so things they can’t change lves they don’t beat themse d you up. follow this advice an . can make your own luck@gilescolborne
  33. 33. Prepare like crazy - so you can wing it. conan o’brien@gilescolborne
  34. 34. Magic... or structured analysis?• Prepare by acting out the experience and the context• Ask yourself where you’d find these points of leverage• Physical constraints - good for refining• Logical requirements - good for specing• Conceptual scope - good for scope But don’t mistake your preparation for g research. You’re primin not observing. don’t let your budget holder go away thinking you have the answers. you don’t. @gilescolborne
  35. 35. keep something up yoursleeve. Tell them: wefound 23 potential dleverage points. We nee eto validate them. Becausthe point of all thisplanning is to let you go out and do it all for real. @gilescolborne
  36. 36. giles.colborne@cxpartners.co.uk @gilescolborne follow cxpartners on Slideshare.net@gilescolborne
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