4 April 2012 | Stephen Hoover
[contributed to Fast Company] "There's a tendency for all of us to glorify the ideation process when in fact it's the reduction to practice that's perhaps more important," says Stephen Hoover, CEO of PARC, a Xerox company.
24 February 2012 | Ellen Isaacs
A little while ago we did some exciting research with Sony using a novel approach to studying mobile communication. We identified small groups of friends and family who like to stay connected and video-recorded them for a half-day as they went about their activities -- we were able to capture each person's point of view as they connected, engaged, and disconnected with one another, sometimes through technology and sometimes face-to-face. (Some folks at CSCW 2012 commented that this looked like stalking!) Through this study, PARC identified a phenomenon we call "channel blending", which, in contrast to multi-tasking, is the blending together of interactions and content across multiple channels, devices, and places into a single, coherent conversation. We identified a gap in current communication technology and opportunities for addressing it.
15 November 2011 | Editor
Forbes has some interesting commentary on Steve Jobs and whether Malcolm Gladwell (yes, him again) is wrong in calling Steve a "tweaker" and therefore less of a visionary or "true" inventor. Obviously, we believe there's more to all of this. Given our experiences, here are some of our thoughts...
28 July 2011 | Lawrence Lee
A startup is any organization of any size dedicated to creating something new under conditions of uncertainty; the challenge is how to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a path to a successful, sustainable business. I'm not going to restate all of the points in Eric Ries' PARC Forum talk -- you can watch it here -- instead, I want to share how we’ve been practicing similar concepts at PARC and compare and contrast some specific Lean Startup methods with our practices in Open Innovation. One key difference for example is in the strategy of MVP.
19 April 2011 | Peggy Szymanski
"Murky" can describe problems in organizations where you see the cloudy fog obscuring what you’re trying to get at, but you don’t know what’s behind it. "Wicked" can describe problems in organizations that are too tangled to tease apart, politically loaded, or just plain difficult. Whether you want to tactically address an acute process problem in a specific department, or strategically transform the way an entire company fundamentally operates, learns new practices, or engages at the critical "customer front", ethnography-based work practice study is a powerful tool for making work visible...
4 February 2011 | Victoria Bellotti
[contributed post to Inbox Love, produced by 500 Startups] Email is, for many knowledge workers, a habitat: the place where they spend most of their working day online. Indeed it can be thought of as knowledge work’s Grand Central Station as far as information distribution and workflow are concerned. A major part of knowledge worker information overload is trying to manage the influx of email content in terms of prioritizing obligations communicated via email and making sure they can always locate the resources they need within all the content in their inbox. In order to handle the demands being placed upon it, email needs to be far better integrated with its users’ content, communication streams, and productivity tools, and come pre-armed with powerful features to support things like content organization, project planning, workflow, content retrieval, analytics and so on...
20 December 2010 | Editor
[contributed article to UXMag] Because ethnography provides a complete, nuanced, and valid picture of people’s practices, processes, and product use in context, it’s a powerful tool that can provide actionable insight and reduce corporate R&D risk. The pioneering use of social scientists in technology corporations -- often referred to as corporate ethnography -- has largely been attributed to, well, us. But this isn't intended to be a who-begat-whom post. We're just trying to set the record straight on the popular tale of ethnography at PARC, because the way the story unfolds reveals how powerful a tool it can be...
30 August 2010 | Nick Yee
We believe that virtual worlds and similar Web 2.0 spaces hint at an emerging mixed or "hybrid" ethnographic methodology that depends on agile collaborations between quantitative researchers, qualitative researchers, and software engineers. This is not just an academic enterprise. The ability to glean this data has many implications for designing and scaffolding online communities, learning new aspects of personality and social behavior in online worlds, and mapping digital personas to physical needs. The ability to leverage this architecture for more tailored marketing is one commercial opportunity. In addition to inferring basic demographics, personality inferences may lead to more nuanced methods of targeted advertising. And the ability to infer demographics based on online interaction metrics helps fill in the gaps left from zip code segmentation alone -- after all, not everyone who lives in your neighborhood (or in your home!) is exactly like you...
23 August 2010 | Editor
[e-newsletter archive ~June-August 2009] ethnography special: innovation where people meet technology
16 August 2010 | Mark Bernstein
[contributed post to Xconomy] Innovation is everywhere. So then where does differentiation come from? Most directly, competitive advantage comes from creating new business propositions in a disrupted environment. (If compelling enough, a novel offering can itself be the source of disruption.) Startups, especially in Silicon Valley, have been glorified as the vehicles of disruption and creative destruction. Yet… the reality is, when corporations are innovating incrementally, there’s probably not much difference between acquiring a startup, licensing a patent or two from a university, or building a technology with internal R&D. Because in all these cases, the company clearly knows what it wants. The market has signaled what features are desired and getting there is a matter of tactics—identify the right startup, patents, or internal team/expertise. But what happens when the market doesn’t exist yet? Or when it’s too time-consuming and expensive to absorb a startup into your corporate culture—let alone to compete with your competitors to court the targeted startup?
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