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Skill theme: 
Amplifying Practice
Amplifying Practice

Separate from the challenge of Well-Managed Data (which is likely to contain personally identifiable information and material not suitable for organizational consumption,) any Effective Reporting and useful Conceptual Model can easily be sent throughout an organization and disappear from the information space as fast as they come in. You need a simple way for the organization to access useful insights and prior efforts' knowledge.

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The challenge

The first layer of the problem is not about solving for detailed and atomic insights retrieval. It’s about knowing the work that’s been done and how to find it and understand its provenance, relevance, process, and outcome. It’s surprisingly easy for smaller one-off efforts to drive a design or product decision but then quickly fade from organizational memory. 

Without access to the background, operations, and outcomes of those studies, you lose the ability to reflect more broadly on the efforts you and team have undertaken, and to assess their effectiveness from a program-level point of view.There’s also a need to expose some “proof of work” that other stakeholders will need to see the larger picture of research and the breadth of what the team is investigating. 

The second layer of this challenge is on-demand insights retrieval, at an atomic level, allowing insights to be gathered, remixed, and re-used. A separate pattern is required to answer these needs, and they are a second order concern to clarity in recording execution and outcomes from a project-level perspective. (The importance and impact of a knowledge management tool scales proportionally with the size and rigidity of the organization.)

The approach

Consider first the needs of immediate team members to understand the arc of the story of past projects and the implications of their findings. Recognize that other stakeholders will need a simple way to get back to the insights of projects they’re already aware of, and ones they’ve participated in, long after the project is a focus of attention.

Therefore, build a catalog of major insights, organized, at first, by their natural containers: the projects at a specific point in time who generated them. Provide quick and clear access to pivotal artifacts or concise summaries of insights and outcomes for each project, ordered reverse chronologically. Leave a well-ordered trail to all of the project’s working documents that don’t contain personally identifiable participant information or sensitive material. This low-overhead archive will act as a content inventory to build from for more structured knowledge management work.

The simplest solution to the problem is a document (wiki page, google document, notion page, etc.) containing a list of every project with a paragraph summary of “what happened here?” and a link to the project’s files. Start here, if this doesn’t exist. Observe how team members interact with it and what patterns arise from questions that other teams ask of past work and insights. This awareness will help you understand the real needs and constraints in building a more robust repository.

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Refer back to prior work and its outcomes as a part of Research Evangelization—especially when there are interesting success stories or organizational firsts for using new methods. A catalog of insights can fuel the Product Roadmap and is necessary ready material for a Product / Design Strategy.

Last updated:
May 2, 2020 16:44


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