Week 12, 2019–Different colors of participation

Jardin Nelson Mandela

Photo: Springtime in Jardin Nelson Mandela, with Saint Eustache Church in the background

Hosted the Researcher Skills Workshop, Paris beta edition

This is one of the trial workshops that a group of us from the ResearchOps community are running, as we put the final touches of the workshop package which will be made available for researcher communities around the world.

On Wednesday after work, eight researchers gathered to reflect on our researcher path, assess hard and soft(er) skills & discuss future avenues. It was super interesting to hear everyone’s stories, both similar and different. The takeaways for each person was quite varied, too, expressing the contexts of each person and organization. I found it really motivating to learn what kind of challenges everyone wanted to take on next.

It was a great workshop 🙂

I’m also really pleased that I was able to make this happen in Paris. Last year for the “What is ResearchOps?” workshops, I didn’t feel like I was the right person to instigate a practitioner event. But one year later, there still isn’t a research community that I know of, and as one of the leaders of this project, I felt more confident asking people if they’d be interested in trying this out. It wouldn’t have been possible without the enthusiastic support from organizers of the Hexagon UX Paris community. I’m joining their upcoming mentoring program and Ilook forward to future collaborations.

The futures of food?

I spent Thursday morning with a friend at a wonderful workshop called “Design Fiction Okoni – Cuisinons la société de 2035“, organized by the innovation studio Okoni. Sixty curious people gathered to prototype macro and micro perspectives of what food production, consumption and distribution might look like in 2035 – all kinds of urban systems but also things like new recipes and stories we tell our children.

I was blown away by the attention to detail of the workshop, which on top of design fiction brought in elements of theater, graphic design, and of course cooking, all with high production quality. A wonderful experience of participatory design. I especially loved that we were handed plain aprons to wear, making us equal and ready to get our hands dirty from the moment we walked through the door.

ReOps Donuts

After some scheming and tinkering with my fellow Cheese Board member Rebecca, we launched a trial of a Slackbot called Donut that will randomly pair up community members for them to coordinate 30min meet-and-greet calls. The idea is to run a one-month trial before we roll it out a program.

The response has been quick and positive, and it makes me giddy to imagine that a semi-automated structure could power serendipitous 1-1 connections, which are low-commitment but high-promise.

A friend told me that he doesn’t have time to meet random people. Yeah, I don’t either. What I want is for the ways in which design and research practitioners exchange and build relationships with peers to be more diversified, so that our sense-making and learning is more robust.

Reading and watching

  • I finished Albert-László Barabási’s “The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success” where he applies network science theory to a variety of fields to unearth the hidden dynamics and ‘rules’ that will shape success. This being an academic body of work, there are succinct definitions that makes such a phenomenon analyzable: Performance – what you do – is a variable in which an individual has some control whereas success is a collective measure that captures how people respond to one’s performance. It’s a compelling read but what I’d recommend is this 40 minute interview on The Human Current podcast. I think I’ll listen to it again.
  • Started reading “Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making” by Sam Kaner as input for a client assignment. Kaner uses a visual language for sketching participation strategies, which I discovered thanks to this article by Marc Rettig. Will be writing more about this in April.
  • Didn’t make progress on Etienne Wenger’s “Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, And Identity” because I got a new pair of wireless earphones… The Audible version of Barabási’s book was easier to get through!

Next week’s schedule includes three workshops and a webinar and if I’m honest, it’s a bit exhausting just thinking about it. Deeply thankful for the kindness, curiosity and smarts that my collaborators bring to our activities together. It’s all good.