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Boston’s Meena Kothandaraman returns to CanUX 2017

February 10, 2017 by Corneliux

The Ottawa native returns for the 2nd year in a row.

W2: Designing (N)Credible Research Studies
} Nov 3, 2017   9:00am / 8 Hours

This workshop is co-presented by Meena Kothandaraman and Zarla Ludin

A Strategic Research Framework Everyone Can Use
You’re ready to embark on a user research study. Your team has the chance to investigate people’s behaviors, and you find yourself receiving questions from all directions, faster than you can manage. The questions sometimes feel haphazard, opportunistic, and as though everyone has been waiting for a moment to get in front of potential users.
Some of the questions can be meaningful, but many are not related to the study objectives and lead you away from forming a credible research study. You know it is important to promote user research within the organization, and you know there is a credible way to run research, but that goal gets sidelined very often with the needs of the business, and a lack of appreciation for what research can offer, and what it represents.

Sound familiar?
twig+fish research practice presents a framework and a process for rethinking and redesigning the research study. Having employed the framework successfully many times with clients, twig+fish will walk attendees through the framework, and share how to work towards credible research studies that align all consumers of research on a common goal.
The goal of this framework is to ensure research studies that are crafted for the purpose they must serve, while educating teams to become more empathic consumers of research processes and outcomes.

Dethroning Research Methods: Reflective Alternatives to Study Design
} Nov 4/5, 2017   TBD / 45 MINUTES

How often do you hear from stakeholders ‘we need to run a focus group?’ as a way to indicate that research needs to be run. We refer to this reality as Leading with Method – a common practice that researchers in industry must address, but have come to just accept as a business constraint. Leading with Method happens in organizations where method and research studies are indiscriminate, and confusion exists around the benefits of research. In this presentation, attendees will learn helpful techniques to design studies around all critical research variables, not only method.

There is definitely a place and value for method: interviews, focus groups, usability tests, ethnography, are just a few methods in our toolkit that help address our organizations’ human-centered questions. Researchers have the skills and knowledge to leverage these methods in our toolkit to execute a well-crafted study. When others lead with method and we as researchers do not correct the confusion, we are viewed as being solely executors of methods. Confusing method with research can lead to a lack of strategic depth in study designs. When methods themselves become confusing (for example, focus group interviews, ethnographic inquiry), and methods and research studies are considered one and the same, the result is often a confused research study which then lacks in credibility.

twig+fish research practice will dive deeper into the reality of Leading with Method, and then offer a strategic alternative. Through pointed examples, the presenters will describe a strategic framework that has helped businesses align around research objectives, which then inform method. Researchers and stakeholders who find themselves in the situation of being reduced to haphazard studies will benefit from the thought shared on how to craft a credible and meaningful research study that does not lead with method. Stakeholders simply directing that a ‘focus group, or a ‘usability test’ be implemented need to be brought deeper into the fold beyond the buzzword. There is a better way! It is time to take back the research process so that the valuable output of a good research study is the result of mindful decisions that can be thoughtfully shared in the organization.

Speaker Bio: Meena Kothandaraman

With 25 years of experience in consulting, Meena Kothandaraman emphasizes the strategic value of customer experience across product, space and service. She truly believes that businesses can achieve greater focus by better understanding the behaviors of their customers, as well as those who create the products from within the business. Passionate about studying customer realities and aspirations, Meena believes that the journey of conducting research acts as inspiration to the business both internally and externally.

Originally from Ottawa, Meena is the co-founder of twig+fish, a research and strategy practice based in Boston, MA, that espouses these research beliefs, while maintaining a utopic work-life balance. Previously, Meena managed the Customer Experience Innovation Center for the Scient Corporation in Boston, worked as a Managing Director with Human Factors International, and led the Human Factors Competency in the Midwest region for Cambridge Technology Partners.

Apart from her core consulting practice, Meena has been a key contributor to the Bentley University Human Factors and Information Design (HFID) graduate program in her 15 year tenure. She has helped evolve the course offerings to stand as one of the top human factors/user experience programs worldwide. She also was involved with the launch of Bentley’s HFID Extension Campus in the California Bay Area in January 2013.

Somehow, Meena also finds time to speak at international experience design conferences (this summer she will deliver the closing keynote at the UXPA International conference in Toronto), teach Indian classical music, write children’s books, and used to have her own cooking show.

For more info, you can follow Meena on on Twitter @meena_ko

Prior Presentations:

Nov 12, 2016 3:40am / 30 min
Slide deck (PDF)   i Sketchnotes

*Image credit: Meena Kothandaraman

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