Weeknotes SE02E04

A rural setting with a heavy grey sky. The land under the cloud is a field of yellow grass with one tree to the left in the background and one to the far right in the foreground. There are some plastic wrapped bales of hay near the tree on the left. There is a patch of sunlight on the field off to the right. Otherwise the scene is very dark.
A farm just above New Norfolk, Tasmania, January 2021 — looking back on old photos now with new eyes!

What did you do?

Monday

It was a public holiday on Monday, happy birthday to the Queen!

Tuesday

Tuesday was a data governance day — managing the transfer of research data to appropriate owners. A lot of the time this is a simple administrative task, it just takes time. There was a lot, and I think I got about a third of the way through.

Wednesday

On Wednesday, the goalposts moved on some research recruitment as some deliverables were brought forward, and so I pivoted and set about making the right connections for us to access the right research participants. It’s a tricky space to be working in, and stakeholder engagement is critical. We got there, very much thanks to the openness and interest of everyone involved and so a potentially frenetic day became a day of solidifying and humanising the connections between all stakeholders. Phew!

Thursday

On Thursday, the Busting Congestion researchers got together as a group to see if we could collaborate across the program on doing some parts of our research as a team, rather than as individual teams. It was an interesting space where we compared mental models for research approaches, and also spent some time (thanks Mariam!) on honing the learning outcomes as individuals, so that we could find where our commonalities lie. This will strengthen that programmatic approach, and provides each researcher with the opportunity to understand the full breadth of the program. It is a little extra work, but should reap some fantastic rewards. Again, the research leadership and the skills of the individual researchers was just a wonderful thing to be part of. As a ReOps Lead, my role in this is very much towards facilitating and enabling, coordinating and logistics. But from a strategic perspective, it will also deliver well for the department, so that ‘programmatic approach’ that is the hallmark of doing Ops is very much at play here too.

Friday

Increment planning day! I’m late to get my planning done, but I really needed time away from work to do it. I have essentially got 9 ‘projects’ and the ‘program’ of ReOps. While 5 of those projects are connected, they are each big enough to need dividing up into separate projects. They are broadly, building the platform for User Research (UR) in the department, and each aspect of what that might entail — where to find information about UR & Ops, where to gather, store, synthesise, and share research data and research outputs. As well as tracking mechanisms, and the all important participant experience work. For the projects, it was great to separate out all that needed to be done across the agile cycle (pre-discovery, discovery, alpha, beta, live) and get a much clearer picture of what the next year or so might look like. I then needed to break down the tasks in front of me for the next few quarters into discrete sprints. I’m not quite done, but nearly!

What are you thinking about?

Mostly increment planning has me thinking about much there is to be done. And then I’m mostly remembering that this stuff is the stuff we always expected researchers to do in their ‘spare time’! Then I think about all the skills required to do all the jobs, and I wonder how we ever managed before. And then I feel super privileged. Because the chance to focus on that, tells me all I ever need to know about how much human centred design (HCD) is valued in my workplace. And I wish that same commitment for you in your workplaces too.

Anything else?

For a mini week, it was big on the good stuff. I’ve been doing ‘office hours’ in what are for me, the wee hours, for a few years now, reserving a few spots a week for anyone who reaches out about more or less anything. Mostly the chats are about research operations (how predictable!), but sometimes they are career advice (I’ve had a LOT of different jobs, so I guess I can help there), or sometimes I just sit and listen. This week, I had someone reach out and say thank you, they got their dream job, and our chat had helped. And someone else said thank you because I’d helped them prioritise and make space for the research they knew they needed to make space for (and proudly pointed out what the team had built because of that). And someone else said I helped them feel brave enough to hit ‘publish’. And I connected several dozen people at different times for different reasons, all of which seemed to yield good results. I guess I mention it because some 6am meeting mornings are hard to get up for (and thank you to the person who excused me late this week from a meeting after a terrible tousle with insomnia!), and sometimes I wonder if I’m really helping. Turns out that listening one-on-one or getting excited about metadata in the wee hours of the morning really does do something after all. My office hours, though reduced to only a handful a week these days, still continue.

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Brigette Metzler

Brigette Metzler

researcher, counter of things, PhD student, public servant…into user research, information architecture, ontology, data. Intensely optimistic.