Introduction to Problem Space Research

  • Organizations are starting to realize they’ve not invested enough in understanding the problem space. They’ve been spending budget studying their solution, its design, and its use through quantitative and qualitative methods. But they haven’t balanced that by understanding the problems people are trying to solve in the first place–the bigger problems. Understanding the problem space takes different skills than traditional user research. This workshop introduces your team to these skills and the vocabulary needed to speak with confidence about what needs to be explored.

    The workshop begins with discussion about when solution-facing exploration is needed, and when it is not. We talk about coming at this exploration from a place where you don’t care about solutions, but instead care only (for the time being) about what each person is trying to accomplish in the larger sense. The discussion then turns to the kinds of assumptions we make in business. We cover the topic of developing cognitive empathy, as opposed to applying it, and dive deep into the skills required toconduct good listening sessions. In the last part of the workshop, we touch upon the mechanics of formal analysis of the transcripts collected, comparing this formal approach to an equally useful quick approach that relies on memory instead of transcripts. We close the day by reviewing some actual data together, in the form of a mental model diagram, to find insights and discuss how to put the knowledge to use in decision-making, design, and future product strategy.

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    1. Warning signs
    2. Demographic assumptions
    3. Scoping a study
    4. Practical empathy
    5. Listening sessions
    6. Informal analysis
    7. Formal analysis
    8. Mental model diagram example review

    The workshop is highly interactive, with recommendations from Indi for individual situations, backgrounds, and personalities. The day is peppered with group exercises as well as solo and paired exercises. Questions are welcome at any point.

    Skills you will develop:

    • Understanding of the difference between problem-facing and solution-facing research
    • The ability to begin recognizing assumptions and investigating them
    • A personal method to practice deep listening
    • An approach for enriching your creative ideas
    • Techniques to pave the way for better collaboration at work