Ethnographic observations and you!

An as-yet-unnamed potential startup company is planning to develop some revolutionary software that relates to how people work together.  One of our first steps is to set set up a research community and making some ethnographic observations — in other words, getting an understanding of how people work today.  We’re especially trying to get a diverse set of participants: not just techies, not just straight white guys, not just Microsoft-related people.

At the end of the first round of observations, we’ll provide all the participants with a summary of our findings.  And as a way of showing our appreciation, we’ll also give each participant a free copy of our first product once it’s available.

Interested in being a part of it?

To start with, we’d like to spend about half an hour on the phone with you interviewing you about your experienes related to meetings.  We’re very early on in our thinking about product lines, so it’s important for us to hear a lot of different perspectives.   We’ll also ask you to spend a couple of minutes online after the meeting: quickly double-checking our notes, filling out a quick survey, and sharing any additional thoughts.

If you’re interested in doing more, we’re looking for opportunities to do in-person observations.  At a time that works for you, two members of our team will come to your workplace, sit by your side as you do your work, take pictures of your environment from time to time.  It’d be ideal if this time includes at least one meeting or conference call.  Our focus will be on what communication tools you use to interact with others, how you use these tools, and what’s working or not working for you.

During these observations, we may ask you some questions, but will try not be too intrusive so you can go about your normal business.  After the observations, we’ll conduct a 15-20 minute interview to discuss what we saw.  Everything we see while we’re there will be held as strictly confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of our team. Our notes will focus on how you manage your workday, and will not include any details about your work or your company.   And of course it’s up to you whether we share your name and company name with anyone outside of our team.

If you’d like to participate, please leave a comment here or contact me via Twitter, Facebook or MySpace.  We’re starting in the Seattle area; over time, we’ll branch out more broadly.

Thanks much!


PS: If this is too big of a time commitment for you, no worries; we’ll be gathering information in other ways as well.  Stay tuned for more!