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I gave this presentation to an undergraduate Design Research class at the University of Kansas, taught by Julia Eschman and Tamara Christensen, in March 2011. It focuses on the importance of finding the right people to drive insights for ethnographic/design research, and addresses tactics for doing so.

Recruiting is a key part of the design research process that often does not get the attention it deserves, to the detriment of project outcomes. I invite you to share your experiences and questions, to build a dialogue about this topic!

I gave this presentation to an undergraduate Design Research class at the University of Kansas, taught by Julia Eschman and Tamara Christensen, in March 2011. It focuses on the importance of finding the right people to drive insights for ethnographic/design research, and addresses tactics for doing so.

Recruiting is a key part of the design research process that often does not get the attention it deserves, to the detriment of project outcomes. I invite you to share your experiences and questions, to build a dialogue about this topic!

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FindingTheRightPeople_10Mar2011

  1. 1. What<br />Where<br />Who<br />When<br />Why<br />How<br />
  2. 2. Agenda<br />Finding the right people<br />Introduction<br />Why focus on who? <br />What can go wrong?<br />How to do it<br />Creative recruiting <br />Q & A<br />WHY<br />HOW<br />
  3. 3. Introduction<br />
  4. 4. Portigal Consulting is a bite-sized California firm that helps companies discover and act on new insights about their customers and themselves<br />
  5. 5. I started my career in coordinating research, learning first-hand how critical planning and recruiting are to success in the field<br />
  6. 6. What to make or do<br />Refine & prototype<br />Launch<br />Iterate & improve<br />Typical development lifecycle<br />
  7. 7. Take a fresh look at people<br />What to make or do<br />Refine & prototype<br />Launch<br />Iterate & improve<br />Where we work<br />
  8. 8. Use existing ideas as hypotheses<br />Where we work<br />What to make or do<br />Refine & prototype<br />Launch<br />Iterate & improve<br />
  9. 9. Where we work<br />Is it working like we hoped?<br />What to make or do<br />Refine & prototype<br />Launch<br />Iterate & improve<br />
  10. 10. Where we work<br />What to make or do<br />Refine & prototype<br />Launch<br />History provides context to explore new ideas<br />Iterate & improve<br />
  11. 11. What to make or do<br />Refine & prototype<br />Launch<br />Iterate & improve<br />Research requires people, regardless<br />
  12. 12. Why focus on who? <br />
  13. 13. Fieldwork<br />Synthesis<br />Ideation<br />Development<br />Everything follows from fieldwork<br />
  14. 14. Putting the customer back in customer insights<br />Competing for your attention:<br />Selling projects<br />Justifying methodology<br />Experimenting with methods<br />Identifying business questions<br />Identifying research questions<br />Fieldwork<br />Travel<br />Analyzing data<br />Client wrangling<br />Turning data into insights<br />Storytelling<br />Socializing findings<br />Inspiring diverse teams<br />Brainstorming<br />…Designing!<br />You can’t have the insights without the customer<br />We focus a lot on the insights part of customer insights, but the customer part is truly foundational<br />Finding the very people you need for insights can become an afterthought on busy teams<br />Strive to put thought and decisions about who to talk to on equal footing early in the process<br />
  15. 15. First you’ve gotta ask<br />There’s another set of reasons why recruiting people is challenging<br /><ul><li>It’s awkward to put yourself out there
  16. 16. It’s hard to get people to do something for you
  17. 17. People will be too busy
  18. 18. People will be too skeptical
  19. 19. It’s even harder when you can’t offer an incentive</li></ul>Most people are curious, and eager to be a part of something that contributes to progress.<br />It’s rare that anyone is asked to talk about any aspect of their lives in detail – it’s an opportunity that many are eager to have!<br />
  20. 20. What can go wrong? <br />
  21. 21. Consequences of recruiting failures or oversights<br />Mobile technology: the woman was much more comfortable texting and emailing than talking in person… the interview was like pulling teeth<br />Riding lawnmower: the participant’s mower was out of commission – trashed, rusty and stashed in the corner of the lot<br />Over the counter medication: deep in the projects of Baltimore, the participant’s procured the product in question from gang members who steal it from local businesses and re-sell on the streets<br />Pointless interviews waste time and challenge the credibility of the work<br /><ul><li>Person doesn’t really want to talk to you
  22. 22. They don’t have the desired relationship with the product/brand</li></ul>Epic FAILS can verge on dangerous<br /><ul><li>Hostile environment
  23. 23. Hostile individuals resulting from failure to understand the purpose of the visit</li></ul>Full Disclosure: It’s gonna happen<br /><ul><li>Sometimes it will go sideways due to recruiting snafus… and that’s OK. This can lead to happy accidents!</li></li></ul><li>How to do it<br />
  24. 24. How to do it<br />You need people who are going to provide useful data; people who will inspire you, and inspire your design team and clients<br />They must have the right relationship with whatever it is you’re studying, and they need to be good to spend time with<br />There are four key steps:<br />Establish relevant criteria<br />Write a screener<br />Find a recruiting partner/establish a recruiting strategy<br />Build rapport prior to interview<br />
  25. 25. 1. Relevant criteria: How NOT to do it<br />Athletic gear: The archetypal persona the client design towards (brand hero) exists very rarely in the real world, and is better at inspiring marketing than informing design<br />Don’t simply take the client’s customer segmentation or personas and find those people<br />Don’t try to comprehensively represent all users and types of users of a product. It’s not an audit – be selective for quality not quantity<br />
  26. 26. 1. Relevant criteria: Relationship to product<br />What is the desired relationship to the product/service or brand? <br /><ul><li>Typical user
  27. 27. Non-user
  28. 28. Extreme user
  29. 29. Peripheral users
  30. 30. Expert user
  31. 31. Subject matter expert
  32. 32. Wanna-be user
  33. 33. Should-be user
  34. 34. Future user
  35. 35. Past user
  36. 36. Hater</li></ul>There are interesting insights to be discovered from any of these depending on the business questions you are pursuing<br />
  37. 37. 1. Relevant criteria: Relationship to product<br />Dog food: studied professional chefs of human food to understand adjacent trends related to food<br />Portable computing: talked to people who are enthusiasts of the rival brand<br />Financial instrument: equal weight given to people who did NOT choose the product<br />Select a range of relationships<br /><ul><li>Find a rejecter or hater in order to understand how they differ from the enthusiast
  38. 38. Create contrast in your sample so you can see influencing factors you would otherwise miss
  39. 39. Think about the sample as a thing to be designed, not “a” customer type to go after
  40. 40. Build the sample as a palette to draw from</li></li></ul><li>1. Relevant criteria: Type of user<br />Sporting goods: User groups included kids, coaches, parents, other team members, league officials<br />Medical devices: User groups included nurses, pharmacists, bio-engineers, patients<br />Baby products: User groups included Moms… but also Dads, other kids in the household, grandparents, friends and their kids, nannies/caregivers, gift-givers, and, of course, the ultimate end-user - babies!<br />Which user groups should you consider? <br /><ul><li>There may be more than you think
  41. 41. Teams make assumptions that need to be challenged
  42. 42. The myth of the primacy of the “end user”</li></ul>Think about the whole system: the chooser, the influencer, the user<br /><ul><li>Interesting things don’t happen in a vacuum
  43. 43. Think about intersections</li></ul>Considering and understanding this helps the team get a broader sense even prior to research who is affected by the product and who is being designed for<br />
  44. 44. 1. Relevant criteria: Context of use<br />Mobile devices: a person who commutes via public transport vs. a car-commuter<br />Baby products: suburban Moms with SUVs vs. urban Moms who walk their neighborhoods<br />Fitness equipment: Treadmill owners who are trying to lose weight vs. treadmill owners who are tri-athletes<br />Consider context and adjacent behaviors: owners and users of the same products will use them very differently and their needs will differ – neglecting to recognize this skews research findings<br /><ul><li>What surrounds people will influence their use
  45. 45. How people use and perceive the product/brand/service will make for very different interviews and insights</li></li></ul><li>1. Relevant criteria: How many?<br />Lawnmowers: 72 households studied across 7 states and 3 European countries, to cover region, cultural differences and current products in use<br />Home ambiance: 6 women covering a range of types of households, product use and odor challenges<br />Over the counter medication: certain regions of the country use completely different forms of products to treat the same symptoms<br />Anywhere from 6 to 72! It’s a balance of insuring a critical mass of data, covering the criteria you’ve established and operating under more tangible constraints such as time and budget<br />Contributing factors can also include<br /><ul><li>Regional differences in product use or behavior
  46. 46. Number of segments of actual, expected or desired users the team wants to cover
  47. 47. Number of client team members interested in participating</li></li></ul><li>1. Relevant criteria: Demographics<br /><ul><li>Gender
  48. 48. Age
  49. 49. Life-stage and lifestyle
  50. 50. Married
  51. 51. Stage of family
  52. 52. Retirement
  53. 53. Not in the middle of a major life-change (unless that’s of interest)
  54. 54. Dwelling
  55. 55. Suburban – Urban – Rural – Town
  56. 56. Apartment – Condo – Single Family home
  57. 57. Race
  58. 58. Reflect the general or regional population
  59. 59. Reflect the user-base
  60. 60. Occupation
  61. 61. Not overlapping with any industry directly or indirectly related to the client or the topic at hand
  62. 62. Income
  63. 63. You probably want the person to be unencumbered by socio-economic barriers to using the product. To put it bluntly, participants will need to have a comfortable enough income and life-situation that they will not be focused on talking to you about how whatever you are researching needs to be cheaper. </li></li></ul><li>1. Relevant criteria: The softer side<br />Whatever their relationship with the product/brand/service - you want the person to be engaged, have a point of view, care about the thing, and be articulate<br />
  64. 64. 1. Relevant criteria: Create a briefing sheet<br />Sketch it out on whiteboard or paper; iterate<br />Visualizing it helps surface details and potential issues<br />
  65. 65. 2. Write the screener<br />Screeners are very formal, linear documents, with several critical purposes<br /><ul><li>Figure out if the person fits your carefully developed criteria
  66. 66. Not letting details slip through the cracks… a critical tool in avoiding the kinds of failures we discussed!
  67. 67. Preventing bias in the participant by not tipping your hand (which can affect the research)
  68. 68. Convincing people to participate</li></li></ul><li>2. Write the screener<br />There are ways to streamline this process<br /><ul><li>Reuse previous ones (yours or the client’s)
  69. 69. Look for surveys on the web</li></li></ul><li>2. Write the screener<br />Screeners have three main sections<br /><ul><li>Introduction
  70. 70. Checking off criteria
  71. 71. Invitation to participate</li></ul>Even if you aren’t going to use the screener, write the screener!<br />
  72. 72. 2. Write the screener: Introduction<br />Give away a little bit but not too much<br />
  73. 73. 2. Write the screener: Checking off criteria<br />Employ skip logic to guide recruiters; try to keep it straightforward <br />
  74. 74. 2. Write the screener: Invitation<br />Lay it on thick!<br />
  75. 75. 3. Find a recruiting partner<br />How to find them<br /><ul><li>http://www.bluebook.org/
  76. 76. Referrals</li></ul>What matters about the recruiter?<br /><ul><li>Local
  77. 77. Database and methodology
  78. 78. Responsiveness
  79. 79. Flexibility
  80. 80. Creativity</li></ul>Be specific about how to work with them<br /><ul><li>Establish the frequency of reporting to you
  81. 81. Give them tools that dove-tail into your process</li></li></ul><li>4. Build rapport with the participants <br />Connect prior to the interview: first by email and then by phone<br /><ul><li>Friendly but professional tone
  82. 82. Assure them of the informality and your objectives
  83. 83. Thank them profusely for their participation
  84. 84. Ask for any special instructions or anything you need to know
  85. 85. Baby will be napping
  86. 86. There will also be contractors in the home
  87. 87. Grandma will be around
  88. 88. Need to go through security to gain access
  89. 89. Has a go pick up kids right after the interview</li></li></ul><li>4. Build rapport with the participants <br />Confirm, confirm, confirm! <br /><ul><li>Length of interview
  90. 90. Who is coming and when
  91. 91. VIDEOTAPING
  92. 92. What needs to be done to prepare (usually nothing!)
  93. 93. What they will be asked (and asked to do)</li></li></ul><li>Creative recruiting<br />
  94. 94. Creative recruiting<br />We tend to believe in working with recruiting professionals<br /><ul><li>Consistent process
  95. 95. Saves time
  96. 96. Lends professionalism
  97. 97. Layer of ethical protection (identity, privacy)</li></ul>Our clients frequently lament the dated methods that recruiters employ, and we concur. There is room for innovation in recruiting. Try to find creative partners.<br />But what if you can’t use a professional recruiter? <br />
  98. 98. Creative recruiting<br />Outside of the traditional method of working with a recruiter, there are other approaches<br /><ul><li>Friends and Family/Social Network Recruiting
  99. 99. Snowball Recruiting
  100. 100. Craig’s List
  101. 101. Intercepts
  102. 102. Proactive Outreach
  103. 103. You can probably help us add to this list!</li></ul>Pros and cons<br /><ul><li>Cheap but time-consuming
  104. 104. Quick but harder to control and manage (tempting to sacrifice process for results)
  105. 105. Likely to find “pure” participants but they might be too close to you (talking to yourself)</li></li></ul><li>Lots more great tips coming soon!<br />A book by Steve Portigal<br />The Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing<br />http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/user-interviews/ <br />
  106. 106. Wrap it up<br />
  107. 107. I’ve got a tip (that you didn’t cover) that works well for me…<br />Yeah, I’ve got a question for ya…<br />One new thing I learned today is…<br />
  108. 108. Thank you!<br />Steve @steveportigal<br /> steve@portigal.com<br /> 415-894-2001<br />Julie julie@portigal.com<br />Wyatt wyatt@portigal.com<br />Portigal Consulting<br />www.portigal.com<br />

Editor's Notes

  • 5 minutes Introduction 9:00 - 9:0525 minutes Fieldwork and Synthesis Process 9:05 - 9:3040 minutes Fieldwork Exercise 9:30 – 10:1040 minutes Synthesis Exercise 10:10 – 10:5020 minutes Ideation Process 10:50 – 11:1040 minutes Ideation Exercise 11:10 - 11:5010 minutes Wrap Up11:50 - 12:00
  • Doing qualitative research in search of customer insights that can drive design and innovation...well, it’s squishy. We spend a lot of time justifying it to internal/external clients, talking about what we want to learn (the business questions) and what we want to ask (the research questions), what we’ll do with the data once we get it, how we turn it into actionable insights, (analysis and synthesis) and then figuring out how we will talk about and use the insights and stories to inspire diverse, multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Doing qualitative research in search of customer insights that can drive design and innovation...well, it’s squishy. We spend a lot of time justifying it to internal/external clients, talking about what we want to learn (the business questions) and what we want to ask (the research questions), what we’ll do with the data once we get it, how we turn it into actionable insights, (analysis and synthesis) and then figuring out how we will talk about and use the insights and stories to inspire diverse, multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Look at the system - the chooser, the user, the waiter, the bartender, the dishwasher, the parent, the child, the husband, the wife - interesting things don’t exist in a vacuum and the beahviors we want to understand interact with, intersect with, interleave with those of others - we can look at the experience of our “non customer” in order to understand more deeply about the experience with our customer (I’m sure you have stories; I remember the smarthome research hearing the husband tell us how great it was, when we spke to the wife later on, she told us she was going to come home and rip the damn thing out because the lights didn’t work)
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