As with most of my weeknotes these days, these weeknotes are structured around the 8 Pillars of User Research — I use these to help me keep the scope of my role knowable, to me, and others. I use the Pace Layers Matrix to structure my research operations strategy in my everyday work.
What did you do?
Well February has nearly been and gone — if January was about doing some foundational work, February certainly saw us trying it out. We welcomed Clare Molloy to the team as a part of the department’s summer intern program, and that was brilliant. Many thanks Clare for your interest, resourcefulness, and capacity to take on new information across several fields!
It was a big change for Bill and I, as we became more of a team with the three of us. The pillars helped us with how we split the work up, though we’ve all been all hands on deck on recruitment and data and knowledge management.
We’re really seeing an increase in contacts from across the department as user research and HCD scale in use and practice so the team is more and more across the research going on, and very much in demand. It was a good time to becoming a team of three. We worked with several teams across the department to provide resources and tools as we could, and to support the department in our shared mission.
Getting the environment right for research to happen easily is all about silos silos and more silos….breaking them down that is! We bit the bullet this week, and added an open ResearchOps Work kanban for anyone to add a support ticket (gulp!). Working in the open and transparently is not only about making the work visible, but letting people in to edit, make suggestions and take ownership if they want. With our rapidly scaling user research everywhere, we’re taking the adage of ‘research as a team sport, and applying it to ReOps as well. The benefit is that if a researcher has an idea for a better process, template, or guide, then we are totally onboard with them taking ownership of that and working on something others can use. We have version control, and an active guild, so we have zero doubt that this is going to be a fantastic mechanism for getting those niggly things done. At the same time, if a researcher has something that needs doing, they can add it there, tag us in the card, and tell us when they need it. None of this is rocket science, but managing this against siloed systems has been really difficult. Crossing fingers this simple step will be transformative for all concerned.
We’ve worked for the past 9 months on establishing a CX Measurement Framework to help us measure client experience in a consistent and repeatable manner. One of our researchers, David, worked with the team for the past couple of weeks seeking feedback from the Guild and working through deeper thinking on what we hope to achieve with an improved client experience, and how we might measure that.
This week, we co-facilitated Research Guild and discussed the new Insights Repository, the next part of the PRISM suite of products we are designing and building in the ReOps team. The primary need there, is to create a quick view of everything we’ve learned from user research about a particular topic, and hopefully over time, we may see those pain points dropping off, or we may be able to reference the changes as they are dealt with. This augments the library, and our research data repository sites.
Our Research Register contains lots of valuable information about the research being planned, in progress, and done. It is open for anyone doing user research to register their research, and also discover what other teams are doing. This week, at the request of researchers, we added some automation in so that it is not only a register, but allows hand off between research teams and others, such as the ReOps team or other stakeholders. This is just a test so far, and we’ll be testing these with users in the coming sprint.
Probably covered in my intro, to be honest :)
We started work on a ResearchOps Induction Board so that it was possible for us to get across what is a very broad profession for Clare. That also meant that we recorded every training session, and added a new channel to the Ops of Ops — a site where we work in the open about how we understand and do the work we do. Together, we completed training in SharePoint, taxonomies (how people categorise stuff), metadata, web parts, and research ethics, consent and governance.
We did training for researchers in searching and adding to PRISM Library. We also did training in using the Research Register.
We welcomed a new researcher to the team, and did an accidentally very deep dive on all things research operations as she is the first person we’ve known to have experienced a ReOps team before, so it was great to compare and contrast :)
Recruitment and admin
Clare’s job while she was with us was to work on our research recruitment, though of course, she did a lot more! This meant working on extending our contacts across the export system, and drafting up commodity specific information for us to use more generically. Comms is a HUGE part of research participant recruitment!
We’ve been trialing a database for our research participant management, and the researchers have all undertaken training in this over the past couple of weeks.
We’ve also continued on our search for the perfect tool for automating the scheduling and communication with our participants, but the latest tool we looked at did not tick the right boxes. Onwards.
Data and knowledge management
Lots of changes in the library and in PRISM groups the past fortnight. The whole team has been busy!
- We added the first iteration of the Insights Repository.
- We have a draft minimum viable taxonomy for our research data repository, and our Library — this has been shared with the Guild, and we’ll be chatting with the researchers about this more in coming weeks. The taxonomy is small, but is inspired by two years of work from the ResearchOps Community, and my own work, and has been augmented with our internal taxonomies. This is hard-coded into PRISM, and is the underpinning of how PRISM can scale. All of this, of course, is made possible as well by the patient and persistent training I received over the years from the architect of the previous user research library team I led at Services Australia, John. Many thanks always, John.
- We did a lot of training in this space the past sprint, and again, we recorded it and made it available to the department via our Ops of Ops site. We also ran training for researchers on searching in the library, and then adding content.
This week, we gained advice from our legal team about the use of incentives, which will help us immensely, to know when we can, and when we can’t pay incentives. We still need to take this through our department’s integrity team as well, but we’re happy with this little development.
I took the team through a brief overview of consent, ethics, and research governance, including information on the ethical sharing of human research.
Tools and infrastructure
- We’ve been working on an across department review of whiteboarding tools. We did a joint synthesis session of our user needs analysis, which was a new practice for some attendees. The ReOps team have been writing up the research synthesis, and documenting the current and future state governance.
- Bill’s focus is on the tools administration, maintenance, and governance. This past fortnight was our monthly reconciliation, and we have hundreds and hundreds of users across a lot of teams. He’s been writing up on and offboarding processes and we’re looking forward to some more automation of this work soon.
What are you thinking about?
I’m thinking about time, how we spend it, how we create space to breathe, how to make grounding ourselves a part of our practice — at home, and at work. Knowledge work is so much up in our heads, it can be easy to scatter and suffer burnout.
I’ve not been reading much lately, but have been making sure I make time for long slow, deep breaths in nature as much as possible.
Though we work in sprints, our change work is a marathon, and we have to have the stamina and support to be our best throughout.
My friend Tomomi Sasaki shared this book with me this week, and it is on my list. Given my above thoughts, you can see I really need to read it: Counterproductive: Time Management in the Knowledge Economy