Dollars to Donuts

Dollars to Donuts

Steve Portigal
May 11, 2020 55 min

35. Danielle Smith of Express Scripts

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Danielle Smith, the Senior Director of Experience Research & Accessibility at Express Scripts. Something that I’ve really changed the way I thought about since I’ve been at Express Scripts — we are in the healthcare ecosystem. So the experiences we deliver, if they are not of quality, they do have serious repercussions on people’s lives and people’s time. We are ethically bound to measure the user experience from different perspectives. Before something launches. We have prototypes or concepts or ideas, we do our due diligence in terms of user experience research, to make sure that the thing that we’re putting out on the world doesn’t just happen to people. – Danielle Smith Show Links Artwork hung in our living room Danielle on LinkedIn Danielle on Twitter Express Scripts Net Promoter Score (NPS) DeBakey High School for Health Professions Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Rice Human Factors and HCI at Rice Human Health Factors at Johnson Space Center Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Transcript Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization. Many years after we moved into our house, we finally hung up our art. Sure, we had hung up individual pieces, something that was already in a frame, say. But it was always piecemeal, a nail here, a hook there. And we continued to accumulate meaningful pieces from travels or family events. And we continued to occasionally pull out the box (a moving box, made for a mirror, I believe) and spread out all the various bits and pieces and just generally fantasize about having them up. My goal, however, was to have a plan, an intentional way of placing the different posters, prints, photos throughout our home. Every time we would try that, I would get overwhelmed and give up. I tried taking small bites: after seeing homes with big frames and medium photographs, we chose a few photographs from our travels, blew them up, ordered specially cut mat boards, and frames. We mapped out where in our living room these would go; we essentially carved off part of the home and planned the photographs that would go there. I hoped that this would simplify the challenge of where to put the remaining posters, but we found ourselves stuck, still. Eventually, we opened up that box and made some hard decisions about what to hang and what to set aside, and then – before too much time could go by – arranged to get everything framed. We were inching closer, but sitting with our posters and prints, all framed, we still couldn’t figure out what to hang where and so (this shouldn’t be surprising) I got overwhelmed and gave up. But buried in that frustration and surrender was a recognition of what skills I’m missing – an ability to reorganize visual information spatially in a few different ways, a set of starting principles for grouping, placing, and so on.
May 05, 2020 59 min

34. Amber Lindholm of Duo Security

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Amber Lindholm, the Head of User Research at Duo Security. That’s the sign of a really good researcher – it can never be just about research for research’s sake, like this is a cool project, this is a neat thing, I really wanna go in-depth and understand perceptions of XYZ with these people, if you don’t have that ability to understand the organizational and business contexts and the types of decisions that are having to be made every day by the rest of the folks in your organization, your research isn’t going to have an impact. – Amber Lindholm Show Links John Mulaney Has Become the Muse of TikTok’s Makeup Artists Amber on LinkedIn Amber on Twitter Duo Security University of Illinois Graphic Design Bauhaus education Institute of Design frog projekt202 Atlassian Stride Sally Carson, Head of Product Design Mark Thompson-Kolar, Design Researcher Annie Diu, Research Coordinator Liz Donovan, Design Research Manager Dug Song, Founder Jon Oberheide, Founder Chester Kustarz, Head of Engineering Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Transcript Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization. I read recently about a new genre of TikTok videos that featured people applying makeup, while lip syncing to standup comedy routines by John Mulaney. I believe that TikTok has it roots as a platform for lip-sync performances, and of course makeup tutorials and demonstrations are their own thing on the Internet. But how do we end up with the combination, and not just one but a whole series? How did this come about, why are people doing it, and are there other niche sub-genres or patterns that this relates to? Even if we are tempted to dismiss these behaviors as just a bunch of people being weird, we need to be doing the research to understand how, and why this is happening. Sure, people at TikTok should know how people are using their service. But insight about this also is valuable to other platforms like YouTube and Twitter and Instagram. How could this information give you a new perspective on user behaviors if you work at Dropbox? Or if you work for Michelin, either their travel department or their tire division? How could Nationwide Insurance make use of this? Our culture swerves and leaps and when these emergent behaviors poke their head up through into the mainstream, it’s an invitation to take note, and to be curious.
Apr 28, 2020 56 min

33. Julia Nelson of MOO

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Julia Nelson, the Director Of Research at MOO. All researchers say to some degree that they don’t necessarily have a traditional background when they come into the research field. But I think there’s a lot of strength in welcoming people with different perspectives onto your team, so someone who used to be a designer or someone who comes from a more academic background or someone who comes from a completely different application of qualitative research, there’s an element of resilience and perspective that that lends to a team which is the sum is greater than the parts, and that’s something that is crucial to seek out on a research team. – Julia Nelson Show Links Julia on LinkedIn Julia on Twitter MOO Stanford d.school Cambridge Judge Business School Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Transcript Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization. Over the past few weeks many of us have spent a lot of time on Zoom, on FaceTime, or Google Hangout, or whatever, for work, for meetups, for catching up with family and friends, for celebrations and holidays, and for other newly urgent reasons. I’m not referring to relatively passive consumption of all the “new” experiences, from film festivals to talks, museums, fundraising comedy festivals, musical performances all in addition to the television and Netflix and Hulu, but rather these active conversations when you are participating, where you are seen, and heard. On one hand, we have turned to this alternative form because we must, we feel an imperative to connect with others, to support each other while also drawing strength from each other’s mediated glitching presence, and in the crises, this is the only way. And maybe there’s even a bit of the trend at work here, because this is just what we’re doing now. Perhaps you’ve heard the term Zoom fatigue, especially acute for those who are expected to follow a work schedule like the one from the before times, all online, and then find themselves using their off-work hours in the very same mode. Because it’s hard. I mean, really hard. It’s hard when people who can’t stop talking for hours when hanging out on a back porch find themselves staring at each other through a screen and just don’t know what to say, and don’t have a clue why that is. It’s hard when members of a group have different levels of familiarity with the norms the technology demands, such as knowing to mute yourself so that the video doesn’t switch over to you when you rustle papers, even though someone else is talking. It’s hard when convenors of our online meetings don’t know about those norms either, and don’t know the additional facilitator labor required to ensure compliance so that one person can’t accidentally stomp all over the fragile emergent communal vibe. And on and on. I went to a professional meetup that included a fascinating recap of many of the technologies over the decades that have tried to connect people remotely over video so that they can collaborate. And yet the meeting began with the familiar fumbling aloud in search of the sharing screen button, the host squinting away from the camera, at a second monitor, navigating the intricacies of the interface while we waited patiently but increasingly felt disconnected inste...
Apr 15, 2020 1 hr 1 min

32. Chris Kovel of First Abu Dhabi Bank

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Chris Kovel, the Head Of Research at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). I look at needs as proximate needs and ultimate needs. An ultimate need is why the product exists in the first place. And then the proximate need is the experience of using that product, right? So if you take for example, a hamburger, that’s a product and the ultimate need is the hunger that it satisfies, right? We as humans need to eat things and hamburgers are one of one of those things that we can eat. That’s the universal need that we that it solves. But then there’s also the needs of actually getting it, getting to the to the place, getting to the restaurant, then there’s the needs of having a good experience in line, being able to read the menu, being able to take it to go if I wanted to. So there’s these nested needs within the greater need of why the product exists. Both are important. But I think that product teams don’t always take both into account. – Chris Kovel Show Links Chris on LinkedIn First Abu Dhabi Bank Gavin Payne, Head of Innovation LAB Stanford d.school John Arnold and Design Thinking Lawrence Krauss Medtronic Jay Reader Needfinding by Dev Patnaik Books by David Kelley Books by Tom Kelley Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Transcript Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization. We numbered eight, a cadre of 10-year old boys, posted around the kitchen table and ancillary horizontal surfaces, awaiting the culinary culmination of this birthday party, when pop and chips would give way to the chocolate birthday cake. The flaming dessert made its appearance and we warbled “Happy Birthday” to the celebrant, mischievously goading him about his simian appearance and odor. And with that, the cake was ours – paper plates and metal forks, droplets of melted wax that we flicked off the frosting, fragments of decorative icing. So, we set to our primal task, inhaling sugar, chocolate, and oh yeah did I mention sugar? Noticing something about my headlong progress through my slice, my friend paused and looked up from his own cake, curiously asking me, “So…you don’t save the best for last?” This was a new concept to me and I stared blankly, crumbs leaking out the corners of my mouth. His mother pops by to affirm, “Yes, Stephen, we save the best part for last!” Beyond surprised, I was enlightened. Of course, some parts of the cake had more value than others. A forkful of plain ol’ cake wasn’t as good as cake and frosting which itself wasn’t as good as that mouthful of corner megafrosting. But the big news was that I had an option to eat to an end goal. I could eat differently – portioning, partitioning,
Apr 08, 2020 1 hr 5 min

31. Noam Segal of Wealthfront

This episode of Dollars to Donuts features my interview with Noam Segal, the Director of Research at Wealthfront. Everyone from PMs to designers, researchers, obviously, engineers, data scientists, marketing, we’re all trying to to understand our clients, we’re all taking part in that process in some way, shape or form. And so I view my role and user research’s role as an enabler, as a coach, as augmenting other efforts already happening in in the company, and really maximizing the returns we get on on the research we do. – Noam Segal Show Links Dolores Huerta and Alice Waters on City Arts & Lectures Noam on LinkedIn Noam on Twitter Wealthfront Cultural Probe Moving with a Magic Thing dscout Airbnb Intercom Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Transcript Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization. I just watched an interview with Alice Waters, who describes herself as a chef, author, food activist, and the owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley. She’s often referred to as the creator of California cuisine, back in the 70s. At one point in the conversation, she explained how when she meets people, she will sometimes begin by bringing out food, say fresh fruit, and taste the food together with the other person. She explained how this shared sensory experience was an alternate, and perhaps more effective way of creating a connection between people. It really made me think, wow, is that something we could do in user research? Could you begin an interview by sharing a sensory experience with someone? It could be taste, via food as Alice Waters did, but it could be a touch experience, a moment of smelling, a shared point of listening. I would want to understand more about what Waters believes this accomplishes and if it’s conjecture or there’s any more evidence, and I don’t really have any idea how to introduce something like this into an already hesitant dynamic, that initial moment. And with all (hopefully all?) research happening remotely at the moment, is there some sort of shared over distance aspect of this, a sensory experience that both parties could initiate, maybe it could be entirely pedestrian, such as feeling the glass of a mobile device, versus something celebratory like a piece of fruit selected by Alice Waters. I don’t know what this would lead to but I’ll be curious to hear what happens for people that try it. As well, it serves to remind me that all too often I neglect including all the senses in how I process the world and how I engage with others. This is another episode without either professional editor or transcriptionist. This podcast is my way to contribute at this particular moment, but I hope you can keep me and my practice in mind for collaborating on research, for coaching, for training, and other work to help advance the maturity of your organization’s research practice, wherever you’re at currently. Now, let’s get to my interview with Noam Segal, who is the director of research at Wealthfront. Noam, thanks for being on dollars to donuts.
Apr 04, 2020 1 hr 6 min

30. Laith Ulaby of Udemy

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Laith Ullaby, the Head of Research at Udemy. I’m really into the idea of questioning what we do. That can be the methods and that conversation about getting out of our comfort zone. It can be thinking about our relationships with stakeholders and trying to reimagine and iterate on those. And it can be thinking about the historical trajectory of the field and the legacies that that has imbued us with. And I think that being ready to iterate and question the assumptions that a lot of those things are built on, is the thing that I’d really want folks to come away with. – Laith Ullaby Show Links Laith on LinkedIn Udemy UC Berkeley School of Information See One, Do One, Teach One Acquisition of Fjord Partners At Teehan+Lax Join Facebook Facebook Acq-Hires Part Of Design Firm Bolt | Peters Adaptive Path Acquired By Capital One Edward Tufte Understanding Your Users by Kathy Baxter, Catherine Courage, and Kelly Caine Insights Association Code of Standards and Ethics Advancing Research conference Advancing Research community Research Skills Framework Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Transcript Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization. I had a profound moment this week. I was facilitating a meeting, not a user research setting at all. But we were having a fairly open-ended conversation. One of the people in the meeting shared some very specific advice for the rest of us, offering almost an impromptu speech or pep talk, filled with passion and encouragement. It was very inspiring. But as the facilitator, perhaps because of my work as a user researcher, I wondered if maybe that wasn’t enough. This person articulated their richly-realized state of being, and it may be easy for anyone else to dismiss it, oh, that’s just so-and-so, they’re just like that. But, we’re not born with insight about ourselves, or clarity about a new way of being, so I was curious – and I thought it would be helpful – to understand more about how this person accomplished this. How did they get here? And even though I wasn’t asking followups in this session, it seemed like an opportunity to shift my role slightly. And so I asked “How did you get to this stage, where you have this clarity in your approach?” This person paused, and said, “Well, if you really want to know” and then proceeded to share very perso...
Mar 29, 2020 1 hr 5 min

29. Kathryn Campbell of Ticketmaster

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Kathryn Campbell, the Director of Research & Insights at Ticketmaster. Whenever there is availability of somebody that might normally work on the marketplace side, they might tag team on an account manager project and that helps to inform them about that product. It gives them a little bit more purview. It facilitates internal sharing of learnings because we are a very large, complex organization. So that flexibility is both more satisfying to the researchers, but also benefits the product teams in the long run. – Kathryn Campbell Show Links MoveOn Kathryn on LinkedIn Kathryn on Twitter Ticketmaster Live Nation Amy Howe, President and COO at Ticketmaster Kathryn Frederick, CMO at Ticketmaster Customer Insights Center of Excellence Ogilvy (formerly Ogilvy & Mather) Jakob Nielsen: Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users Dustin Guinee, Lead User Experience Researcher at Ticketmaster Hilary Bienstock, Cal State University, Fullerton Brent Jefferson Lowe, Senior Manager, UX Research at Ticketmaster Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Transcript Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization. Over the past few years I’ve been volunteering with MoveOn a progressive organization. My contribution is to be part of their texting team, where they identify an issue or a cause and a group of us volunteers send text message about that topic to their membership. Last week I was part of a campaign raise awareness of best practices for protection against coronavirus. We don’t send text messages from our phones, it’s through a browser interface. A texter sees a pre-addressed, and pre-written message which they send, one at a time, usually thousands in total. When people respond, the volunteer can classify that response, which will produce a relevant response that we might customize to ensure it makes the most sense. MoveOn collects responses and future campaigns (say, for someone to call their representative about an issue, or to get out of the vote) a built based on what they learn from looking at their data. In this recent experience, we were asking people if they were practicing social distancing and sharing al link with resources and information. The responses that they were expecting were essentially, “yes I am”, “no I can’t (or don’t think I need to)”, “I need medical help” and “thank you.” The first day I participated, I heard from a number of people who were medical professionals. Now even though we are working on a dashboard with pulldowns menus, people are entering text on their phones, and have no idea what our interface is. They wouldn’t necessarily share their responses according to ...
Mar 27, 2020 1 hr 5 min

28. Laura Faulkner of Rackspace

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I speak with Laura Faulkner, the Head of Research at Rackspace. I’ve never just sat and done just what I was asked to do. I’m always looking for something new, something else. It’s probably just part of how I’m built but it’s also a conscious choice of, of just doing my my current job is simply not enough for me and even just that extra 10 minutes of curiosity or desire to see something else or learn something new while still doing my job and delivering on that, it’s just opened so many doors helped me step into a lot of opportunities and learn new things. – Laura Faulkner Show Links Public Speaking Laura on LinkedIn Laura on Twitter Rackspace Blink by Malcolm Gladwell Applied Research Laboratories Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Transcript Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization. I just watched Martin Scorcese’s 2010 documentary “Public Speaking” a profile of author Fran Leibowitz. I honestly didn’t know very much about her, but she’s a smart and acerbic social critic, whose persona, and perhaps her life is built around her strong opinions and her skill in expressing those opinions. She repatedly emphasized in the film how there are too many books, and thus too many poorly written books; she’s pretty critical of the ability of most people to have an interesting story to share and to have the ability to communicate it in a valuable and valid way. While her career is indeed public speaking in one form or another, for the rest of society, she advises public listening. But really this is because she wants to be listened to, she doesn’t necessarily want to listen, she wants to talk. This is in no way meant to be an indictment of her – she very clearly exists in a world of her own making. While the mode of the times, and indeed given the work that many of us do, emphasizes the importance of everyone’s stores, and we put real effort into inviting people in and giving them space. I mean, this approach, this mindset is at the core of user research! But I found it remarkably refreshing to hear a different point of view. It reminds me of an experience I had in the field last year interviewing a head neurologist, someone who was very successful, who had written multiple books and taught surgery around the world. Before this project, I was kind of warned to expect a lot of ego from surgeons especially, and I guess in some ways this particular interview subject was the platonic ideal of that. He would not sit through my carefully scripted concept presentation. He interrupted. He pointed out his bookshelf of published books, he told us about his children attending an Ivy League school. He gave examples of where he’d been influential, how many times he’d taught, how much money he had saved the hospital with his process innovations. I had to adapt my approach for him so that we could get through the session. After we left, my colleague, who worked my frequently in this domain half apologized and half-checked-in with me to see if I was okay or not, given how quote awful and difficult the interview had been. But I didn’t have that feeling at all. The interview was amazing! We learned so much from him! He was incredibly accomplished,
Jan 07, 2020 1 hr 7 min

27. Colin MacArthur of the Canadian Digital Service

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I chat with Colin MacArthur, the Head of Design Research at the Canadian Digital Service. We talk about bureaucracy hacking, spreading the gospel of research throughout government, and embedding researchers in complex domains. Often the idiosyncrasies in people’s research and the sort of surprises that don’t fit within the template are the most important things that our researchers find. – Colin MacArthur Show Links It Choose You Miranda July The Future PennySaver Advancing Research conference Colin on LinkedIn Colin on Twitter Canadian Digital Service Treasury Board of Canada Scott Brison, Canada’s First Minister of Digital Government Public opinion research Snowball sampling Randomized controlled trial Stand-up meeting Homepage Usability by Jakob Nielsen and Marie Tahir U.S. National Park Service Wizard of Oz ResearchOps Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Transcript Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization. I just read the 2011 book “It Chooses You” by filmmaker and artist Miranda July. It’s one of the best books about ethnographic research that isn’t really actually about ethnographic research. In the book she describes a period of her life where she was creatively stalled in finishing the screenplay for her film “The Future.” As a way to either get unblocked or just avoid what she should be working on, she develops another project, to call people who have placed ads in the free classified newspaper the PennySaver, and arrange to come to their homes and interview them. She reports on each of the interviews, including excerpts of the transcripts, and some amazing photographs. The interviews are sort of about the thing being sold, but because she’s getting outside of her cultural bubble, she takes a wider view, asking people about a period in their life when they were happy and whether or not they used a computer (since even in 2011 a newspaper with classified ads was a relic of a previous era). These interviews are confounding, hilarious, disturbing, touching – everything you’d hope. And July is honest about what makes her uncomfortable, about her own failures to properly exhibit empa...
Sep 05, 2019 1 hr 2 min

26. Jesse Zolna of ADP

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts I talk to Jesse Zolna, who leads the User Experience Research Team at ADP’s Innovation Lab. We talk about driving change as an experiment, exposing the organization to how customers solve problems, and engineering psychology. One of the challenges we face is getting “credit” for the work that we’ve done. A lot of what we do is help people understand the problem space better and understand these things that their users aren’t able to do, or want to do, or whatever. And oftentimes it’s not going to be brand new. Rarely do you come up with something that nobody’s ever thought of before. A lot of times we help solidify or better articulate those problems, which then you can attack much better. – Jesse Zolna Show Links Northern Soul The Day Mick Jagger and Keith Richards Met Again ‘Friends’ Will Be There For You At Beijing’s Central Perk Lowrider Culture Spreads to Brazil and Beyond Russian Doll Ronald does the wai McDonald’s to Offer International Menu Items Including (Yes!) the Stroopwafel McFlurry Jesse on LinkedIn Jesse on Twitter ADP ADP’s Innovation Lab Drives New Ideas And Cultural Change Within The Company Barnes & Noble Nook Stephen Gates on Design Thinking 5 Whys Tufts Department of Psychology Adlerian psychotherapy Georgia Tech Engineering Psychology Airtable OKR DJ Anne Frankenstein Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other people find the podcast by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Transcript Steve Portigal: Welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk with the people who lead user research in their organization. Northern Soul was a musical and cultural movement in the UK in the late sixties and early seventies. It was all about obscure soul music from America. The movement really was a scene, with clothing and dance styles, and clubs hosting dance parties, but let’s just focus on the music. For people in the UK in the 60s it wasn’t easy to get music from the US. In fact, this difficulty figures into the origin story of the Rolling Stones,