the fault - netflix series pitch
As surprising to me as it may be to you, this spring I had the staggering delight of doing ethnography in reverse. That is, I wrote the profiles, backstories and psycho-emotional frameworks of 12 people I had not yet met, and never will. My first foray into fictional ethnography, this complex political drama held me hostage for 3 months, moving quickly from character treatments to outlining plot beats for ten episodes and art directing the pitch deck. In collaboration with Josh Shelov, Jim Howard and Adam Elwell, one of the most literally captivating projects I've ever given myself to. Would do again.
the gen z report
In step with their authoritative research on Millennials, Barkley initiated a study on Generation Z, beginning with an ethnography conducted by yours truly. During this preparatory discovery project, I hung out with teens from 13-19. We ate weird snacks, bought records, got froyo and fries, and looked at Snapchat - which I mention to illustrate that these field observations were almost entirely user-led. The insights unearthed here informed a hefty qual/quant follow up that resulted in the above report, shaping the way young brands think, move and grow. Among my learnings: slang no longer makes sense to me.
BCBS & Spira care
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City came to Barkley and the Moonshot Innovation Lab in order to reimagine the health care experience. Knowing it would require cutting ties with legacy processes, they were all in to build a new brand from day one. I designed and conducted the foundational ethnography that informed their brand idea and inspired many of the key features of the Spira experience. For example, the experience design team went to work addressing paperwork issues in direct response to seeing field documentation of families keeping medical bills in laundry baskets. No kidding. That's the kind of juicy stuff you don't get from a phone interview. Read about it in Forbes here!
nelson-atkins museum of art
So, a curator, an experience designer and a couple of nerds walk into a bar, basically. After years of mutual admiration, the Moonshot Innovation Lab and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of art partied together in the best possible way. Heaps of research and ideation sessions resulted in an educational in-gallery iPad system, a Kandinsky-inspired synesthetic display inviting users to compose music with shape and color, and a few next-level audio tours (GPS-enabled via Detour) that provide an engaging, seamless tour experience. Starting with internal discovery, I sat with the Nelson's own research team, museum docents, security guards, curators, technology staff and board members to get the whole story on what we could create together. Then I spent weeks watching visitors wander, and hours more interviewing them about their time in the museum. Wanting to give our client as deep a perspective as possible, we shared our findings in a day-long interactive workshop. (See the Facilitation page for that.)
the google stuff
During my time at Nelson Cash, I did loads of work for Google brands, including Google Fiber, Google Consumer Surveys, Google Helpouts, Google Small Business Community, Google Adwords, YouTube, Google Partners, Google Best Practices, and Google Domains. That work is top secret, so it's hiding here. If you want to see it, you'll need a password. Email me and I’ll send it to you.
While at Moonshot Innovation Lab, I wrote and presented this series of classes for Barkley partners, introducing empathy training through the vehicle of music. Having been a musician for a good bit of my life, this was 100% brain candy for me. Some of the skills shared were empathic listening, receiving feedback, and connecting with people while dealing with being on stage. Not only were these fun and well-attended, but heralded with some pretty kick ass posters by Anthony Schmiedeler. Thanks, Anthony. (For more on the classes, check out the Writings page.)
international code council
The most complex ethnography I've conducted to date, my work for the International Code Council centered around generating empathy between many points of view. I worked with design strategist, Nick Hahn, to conduct the exploratory research and user testing of the ICC's initiative to create an online system to vote on changes to international building code. In the process, we learned that online voting didn't just need to be built, it needed to be hollered about. So we created the "Now We Can" campaign, and gave a dozen presentations in Dallas at the 2013 code hearings for industry professionals, building code inspectors, firemen, and other stakeholders.
In 2012, Toca, an innovation consulting firm in Chicago, was offered an irresistible mission from for Haworth, the furniture giant: visualize the office of 2020. Toca's ethnographic methodology went into full force, sending myself and videographer, Kate Joyce, to 18 locations in the United States and Canada over 2 months. We examined a range of working styles, company sizes, technology tools, and processes, seeking subjects who represented the edges of those variables so that we might have as full a picture as possible. At the conclusion of the research, the insights generated by the sociology team were translated into design recommendations.
the nelson cash yearbook
What started as a goofy anniversary gift for the owner of Nelson Cash became one of my favorite side jobs of all time. The first yearbook was standard stuff: class photos, funny clubs and loads of Photoshop shrimpscraps. When we realized that we had the in-house talent to do it right, we got busy. Brittany was a sick bookbinder, Josh a freaky good photographer, and I, a pretty ok interviewer. So the three of us got together to make a hardcover artifact of our time as a team, including photos from our travels, deep interviews with our teammates, and colorful stats from our Slack channel. I looked through it again while putting this blurb together, and my eyes got a little soggy. It's that good.
Far and away the project I deserve the least credit for bringing into being, Carmen is a wayfinding chatbot created by my former teammates at Moonshot (mostly Preston Richey) in response to the painfully observable fact that people couldn't find their way around the building. Literally zero research required from this gal. I'm pretty much only including it for sentimental reasons, because I love those guys and I got to help by writing a few snarky responses in her database (though even those were mostly written by my other favorite teammate, Jim Howard). To read the whole story on Carmen's creation, check out our post on Medium.