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August 31, 2023
Andrea Amorós, Associate Principal Researcher at ADP, shares how she has pushed strategic research to the big table.
Andrea M. Amorós is the Associate Principal Researcher at ADP, a payroll solutions provider leader globally. She has always been a really deep thinker, curious about understanding human behavior and the unconscious mind. Her expertise lies in conducting strategic research and discovering patterns at scale to improve people's lives. She has a background in Design Engineering and has worked in various startups, consultancies and large-scale corporations.
Andrea - 00:00:00: I think it's important that we are honest with ourselves and if we feel that usability tests, we are good at that and we wanna do that, we shouldn't have to do discovery work. You can amplify your impact you're doing using this. So I think there's a big room for everyone here.
Erin - 00:00:22: This is Erin May.
JH - 00:00:24: I'm John-Henry Forster, and this is Awkward Silences.
Erin - 00:00:29: Hello everybody and welcome back to Awkward Silences. Today we're here with Andrea Amorós, and she is the Associate Principal UX Researcher at ADP. Thanks for joining us today. We're very excited to talk about giving research a seat at the big table and how do you do that and actually make that happen.
Andrea - 00:00:55: Thanks Erin, it's my pleasure to be here. And actually it's a really exciting topic that I'm passionate about, so really excited to be here.
Erin - 00:01:03: Awesome, we've got Carol here too.
Carol - 00:01:03: We're excited for this conversation. We're always, we have a small and mighty research team, so always looking to make sure we're pulling them into the most strategic conversations. So yeah, really excited to take on this topic.
Erin - 00:01:15: So, Andrea, I know when we were first talking, you said, this is a topic, like you said, I'm so passionate about this. We need to bring this conversation to the research audience. I'm curious, what motivated you to want to push for this in your own career, in your own experience?
Andrea - 00:01:30: That's a really important question. And I get asked from a lot of colleagues, how did you started to do these? And if I'm completely honest, I was hired in ADP to do this cover work. It's the first time I do this kind of strategic level research. I got hired to do discovery work. And then one of the things that was really kind of funny to me, when I joined, is that there was not a plan for me. There was not a set of projects that were waiting for me to take. So they said, okay, we want to do more discovery work, but we don't know where to start. So something that I did that I feel back then, it was a good thing to do was I started interviewing a lot of leaders in the company. So I talked with the VPs, and I talked with presidents, and directors, and everyone was kind of like, how do you know so much people so early on in your journey in the company? And I was like, because I really need to talk to them and understand what they need out from me before starting to do anything. Because I think what's most important for us as researchers is that we do meaningful work. So I started interviewing them and I realized, wow, I mean, there's a big opportunity here to do strategic work, to really inform the business, not just the designers, not just the product managers, not just the development teams, but really at that level because they didn't know enough about the users, they didn't know enough about the experience. So I felt that it was a good opportunity for that. And also there was a big room, like big appetites on their side to learn about those things. So I think that was also part of the equation. I'm not sure if I would have had the same opportunities in another company, but ADP was so open to these that I said, like, look, let's go for that. So that's how it started.
Carol - 00:03:15: So, you brought in to do discovery and you had to discover what to discover first.
Andrea - 00:03:20: Which I think is funny but I'm speaking with other researchers and this happens a lot of the times. Sometimes we have to research what we need to research about.
Carol - 00:03:29: Which I guess is better than the alternative, right? Of just run some usability tests on these four things.
Andrea - 00:03:34: Exactly.
Carol - 00:03:35: Well, tell us a little bit more. What happened next?
Andrea - 00:03:38: So I started after speaking with the VPs and the directors, I started to kind of create like a mind map of all the projects we could start working on. I remember I was working on a Miro board and I created this kind of matrix, like value and then time spent on projects. And I started mapping all the different opportunities that I was seeing that we could take on. So then I had the kind of like courage to go to those people and say, look, I've contributed 20 of you. Back then, no one was doing that in the company. And I said, I interviewed 20 of you, and I've discovered these kind of things. I think these kinds of projects are relevant for all of you. And how do you feel about that? How will you see that? How valuable would this be for you to learn more about these, to discover more about these things that currently you don't have this ability about? And so I saw a big engagement from them, kind of like big expectations. And then I went to my manager back then. She didn't expect me to be doing all those things, but I think, I don't know. I feel like researchers have this kind of urge to ask questions, to talk with people, to really create things that are meaningful, at least for myself, that's really important. So here, and I said, look, Yomi, my manager is fantastic. Her name is Yomi. And I said, look, Yomi, I've spoken to these amounts of people. And I think what we should be working on is this ABCB. And that we had projects for like, at least for like two or three years, because it was big projects. So she said, okay, what do you think it's the most important thing to work on? And I said, look, I think we could work on these. And we openly discussed and agreed on the projects that I was going to start working on. And then I engaged all of the different stakeholders that were part of those conversations to really be part of the research, be part of the readout, be part of the interview, so it was kind of like a leveraging everyone and trying to include everyone. And, you know, it was funny for me because I was speaking with one of the directors and I said, look, Andrea, I think that you've been here for now six months and you know more people. Like I've never seen anyone network like you, but honestly. I've never wanted to network. For me, that was not my goal, but really I wanted to generally get to know people and what they care about. So at the end, now as a consequence, I know a lot of people in ADP, amazing people there. So that's also a nice side effect of that work.
Carol - 00:06:01: I love this idea, this idea of not thinking about it like a networking project, but thinking about it like a research project. Go and understand the leaders within your organization. You'll be very familiar for researchers as well. How did you think about when you had this list of, it sounds like you had sort of effort impact matrix, how did you think about what were the sort of highest priority or most strategic products for you to take on?
Andrea - 00:06:23: That's a really good question, Carol. And I had to assess it depending on the amount of times that it was raised and also who raised that. So let's say that the VP of tech mentioned that he really wanted to understand then to an experience of a specific product. Then, and then it comes out that the VP of product has the same concern and then the several directors have the same concern. So I see that there's a lot of people asking themselves the same questions without having clear answers. So I would prioritize those projects over things that maybe they haven't mentioned, but I think it could be valuable or they just mentioned a few times. So value was a big driving factor for me.
Carol - 00:07:05: Got it. So you saw patterns that maybe others didn't see and some of the common questions people were asking across the team.
Andrea - 00:07:11: Exactly. And actually, Carol, I follow the same kind of criteria as you would kind of follow when you run research, you know, how many times you hear something. It's important. So I kind of follow the same methodology as well.
Erin - 00:07:24: When you talk about bringing research to the big table, I'm imagining a literal big table. Both, like, what are we really talking about? Is it building those relationships with these sort of key stakeholders in the company? Is that really the first? That obviously is part of it. What are we really talking about when we talk about doing that?
Andrea - 00:07:42: I love this question. And to me, big table, it's big table. And when I say big table, I mean going to the town halls to share research where thousands of people are there. When I say big tables, I mean sitting with the president of a product who might have a team of 5,000 people or 10,000 people presenting to the VPs, to people who are the highest in the organization. And there was someone in ADP who said, I'm so amazed of what you're doing because we've never done that. We've never brought the research to such big places where you can really leverage the research and create a lot of impact because of course when you present the product, when you present to design, development, you can have a lot of impact for sure. But when you bring it to that, another level, like to the big tables, what happens is that you also influence business, you also influence service, and it's much more people leveraging your research, which I find it's fantastic, you know, and I'm really humbled to be able to do that. But I would like to encourage other people who do research to take those kind of steps, because as you were saying before, I think we're in a really interesting moment for all the research community, and there's a space for us to do that.
Erin - 00:09:01: I think we often in business have a desire or default to constrain to status quo or like to self-limit what our impact can be, right? So it's like, well, obviously my impact is going to be on this sphere of product and design, but to your point, like, what if it could be more? What if it could be the whole company or, you know, VPs, chief, whatever, all that sort of stuff. So.
Andrea - 00:09:23: Exactly. And I know actually a funny fact that the videos I created, I usually create these kind the projects to keep people engaged, to create connection and empathy towards our clients. And sometimes I put like funny songs on the back to, for example, show someone is navigating an interface and it's going through a hundred touch points and it's kind of like funny to see. I play music, I kind of do this kind of thing. So it's more engaging and there's more connection. And those kind of videos have become kind of viral inside of ADP. People using it that I don't know them actually. So it kind of creates this effect though, like a wave.
Carol - 00:10:02: Like a loop, self-reinforcing.
Andrea - 00:10:04: Exactly. Which helps the research community, which helps the research, which helps create better impact, much more powerful. So.
Carol - 00:10:12: Do you have, we talked about how you might both do research to understand what executives want and then you talked a little bit ago about also presenting back to a broader audience, presenting to executives, etc. In these videos. Do you have sort of other tips and tricks for differences from presenting to a smaller, maybe a product audience to a bigger company audience?
Andrea - 00:10:30: I think that's a really important question and it really depends, right? For example, you can present to the designers and product managers. And I wrote an article about this for the scout that's called, how to present research insights to executives with ease. And there, if you are listening to these, you can read that article, have a lot of detail of how I do it. But when I present to thousand people or hundreds of people, it's really important for me to keep it even more engaging. I don't go into detail. I don't go into granularity, but I make sure that the narrative where I pitch it, it resonates with people. So let's say that they are interested in the new changes of the product or the high level themes that we discovered. I would just choose three and go with that. Play good clips, make some jokes, ask questions in the chat. People can get engaged, all those kinds of things, versus when I present to product managers or designers, I go much more deeper because I know that they need detail. They really need to understand the step-by-step or other kind of granularities. And then also, for example, when presenting to executives, that's a really interesting audience to understand how to pitch to them. I try to keep it pretty high level. I don't go into details as well. And I make it pretty short because sometimes the time span that they have, because they are back to back, it's short. So I try to keep it interesting for them and pitch it at the level that they care about. So usually this is a tip that I have that I share with other researchers. I usually kind of interview people before the readout and I make sure that I ask them about what success looks like for you for this specific readout. What would you like to learn? What's the most important thing that you are interested about? Then I ask them, I send just like a Webex message, one line. And I ask the people that I need more buying from, I would ask that question and make sure that I pitch it at that level.
Erin - 00:12:26: This reminds me of Seth Godin has this tip about presentation success just generally speaking, which is this idea of enrollment, right, which is that. If you're going to do a presentation in a group, you want to persuade them of something. And you need to first have a contract that says, I'm going to try to convince you of this, okay? Is what I'm telling you interesting to you? Are you willing to make change? This is kind of what we talk about, right? So that's kind of what you're saying with the interviewing ahead of time.
Andrea - 00:12:53: So this is something that is really important to me. And as a tip is that before sharing any other information, make sure that your audience is engaged. So for each slide that I put there, I make sure that there's a connection and that the people can see, you know, how is this going to bring them value? What are they going to take out of it? I want people to be engaged and excited about that. If not, doesn't make any sense.
Carol - 00:13:18: And do you have any examples of how you do that? Like, is it showing a video clip of a real customer or I don't know, other ways that you might make it sort of meaningful to the audience?
Andrea - 00:13:27: So I asked those questions. I kind of interviewed them beforehand. I add a lot of clips, especially when people get emotional. We had one clip that was kind of viral in ADP, which was so nice that there was one lady saying, look, I'm going to get emotional if you, you know, develop this and she said, Andrea, this is like landing on the moon for the first time, which to me was so shocking, but it's here today experience. And that clip became viral in ADP, which was beautiful. And for example, those clips work really well, but then I also tried to ask a lot of questions to the audience. So for example, if I would be presenting in a town hall, I would say, who knows something about user research? Write it in the chat, open up your mic, tell me what do you think research is? And someone says something and I said, that's a good point. Who else? You know, I try to keep them engaged, keep it really horizontal and like a conversational.
Carol - 00:14:22: I love that. I'm looking at this article now and one of the points you make at the end here is do it with love. I'd love to hear more about what you mean by that.
Andrea - 00:14:29: Oh, that's kind of like the sweet spot. I love my job. I think a lot of researchers love their job and I hope if they don't love their job, they have the courage to change it. But I realized that when we present, I always try to remember the opportunity that it's for me and for everyone. I don't take that for granted. And these amount of people listening, I have to make it in a way that feels right. So I always imagine that I care about everyone who is in their room. I care about the VP. I care about their concerns, their needs. I care about their story. And then I share it in a way that it's really from a loving place, from an empathetic place. I know that they've done the best that they could with what they knew so far. So I'm not there to judge them, but to say, look, we're here and from this place, we're going to get better, go to a much more better place. So coming with this attitude also helps in a way that when sometimes researchers, we get pushback. And when you come from this place of understanding and being non-reactive, challenges and pushback become way softer and you find ways to navigate those as just a conversation, but not as an emotional reaction, which I think it's crucial because sometimes researchers get trapped on the, oh, they don't understand why five users is enough. And this kind of frustration, I don't want to be in that place. We are in the same boat here. I care about you. I want to do this for the better of the organization. So let's work together. I try to create this kind of mindset in the presentations that I do.
Erin - 00:16:02: So talk to a bit about how you can take advantage of this big table you have access to. I'm sure we could talk about that more in a while. How do you get there? Do you just sort of, I would like to do a presentation in front of the whole company. Cool. Or like, how did you get to that spot? How'd you make it happen?
Andrea - 00:16:19: I've been trying for this podcast to think about how I got there. Because right now in ADP, I think I'm the only one doing those kinds of things. And I want that more people can join this conversation. So I think you need the skills to be able to present to executives. And to build up the confidence to do that, which takes time and takes effort. And, but everyone I think can do it. So this is more like learning how to communicate effectively. As you were saying, Erin, we can learn from Seth Godin or amazing people out there. But then also taking the courage to really, when you see something and you see that things can be done in a better way, in a much more meaningful way, have the courage to step up and say, I think we really need to work on this project. And I think these amount of people should be in the conversation. So a lot of times we as researchers see stuff, see projects that are strategic that we should be working on. Sometimes I see people are scared to speak up and I understand that. I mean, we don't want to lose our job and we have our own kind of needs. We want to feel we belong. But when you move from a place of scarcity and moving to a place of abundance without fear and say, I'm going to do this because it's meaningful to me. I'm going to stand by these values. Magic things happen and doors open where you didn't think doors and you have the opportunities to be involved in presenting in front of thousands of people that you maybe would never imagine. So it's true that something that I did was always inviting VPs and people that I think would care about the research through the sessions. I would craft the specific readouts for them, maybe like 15 minutes, 20 minutes readout for them specifically that would resonate with them. I would not invite them to the hour sessions that we had with product designers because probably they would not care about that. So I would make sure that I was taking care of their time as well. But then there's this other side of really bringing yourself to new places and really connecting what's real to you and having the courage to share it. And this creates kind of like a cascade effect because once they see you in a presentation, like I remember I was presenting to the, we have the Senior VP of Technology, Sechin, he's a wonderful human and he invited me to present to his direct reports team. So I presented there and then there was one VP who wanted me to present to his team, which was 500 people in APAC. And then from that team, someone else saw me and they invited me to another town called globally. So this kind of creates this kind of cascade effect, that, where research then goes as far as you want to bring it to.
Erin - 00:19:03: So if I'm hearing you right, you didn't say, you know, Andrea, I've got a goal. I'm going to talk to the whole company in two months. You know, and this is how I'm going to do it. It was more, you kind of expanded your sphere of influence. You know, I'm not going to like keep myself in a little container. I'm really going to speak up when I see something, however global or big it is. I'm going to keep these relationships going with these VPs, with these influential people. That's going to turn into these opportunities maybe I didn't even see coming. It sounds like those are some of the things that maybe others could take with them.
Andrea - 00:19:37: Exactly. And for me, this has been kind of like my north star. It's never been about being exposed or it's never been about having more power in the company. It's always been creating much more meaningful change. And I think people really connect when you are just genuine and not transactional. I think it's much more easy to get to those kinds of opportunities because they just feel genuine. So I think that was a big part.
JH - 00:20:04: All right, a quick awkward interruption here. It's fun to talk about user research, but you know what's really fun? Is doing user research. And we want to help you with that.
Erin - 00:20:14: We want to help you so much that we have created a special place. It's called userinterviews.com/awkward for you to get your first three participants free.
JH - 00:20:25: We all know we should be talking to users more, so we went ahead and removed as many barriers as possible. It's gonna be easy, it's gonna be quick, you're gonna love it, so get over there and check it out.
Erin - 00:20:34: And then when you're done with that, go on over to your favorite podcasting app and leave us a review, please.
Carol - 00:20:41: I wonder for someone who's maybe a researcher doing some usability testing or something that feels like it's starting more focused on the product team, how you might think about how they can sort of grow in their influence from there. Is it taking that specific study and showing the broader influence of that study or maybe asking some broader questions like you did? I'd love to hear more about that.
Andrea - 00:21:03: That's an interesting question, Carol. So there are different paths that they can take, I believe. Of course, I would encourage them to invite everyone who could benefit from that usability test, for example. So directors and other people who, or maybe they could craft a specific presentation for them to show the value of research or these kind of things. But usually what I found that has been more interesting for the big tables or the executives has been the discovery kind of work, because by nature it's a bit more strategic. So for example, if we are speaking about an end to an experience of a new product, they are really interested to understand which are the most challenging moments, which are the moments where people are really stressed. Why are they stressed? So I think with the tactical research, you can have an influence up to a point, which is also good. It's not better or worse, just to a point. And then I think if you want to impact business for the business, it's not really about if the bottom works or not, but more what are the big challenges that we can work on. Is it service wise, is it product wise, is it the whole connection between service and product. So, I would say if you want to have more impact or you can always try if discovery works for you as a researcher, you can take maybe a small project and start trying those things. But also, I think it's important that we are honest with ourselves and if we feel that usability test, we are good at that and we want to do that, you don't have to do discovery work. You can amplify your impact, you're doing discovery, you don't need tests, sorry. So I think there's a big room for everyone here.
Erin - 00:22:49: I know you've talked about how research has been marginalized historically. I'm curious what you think about where that is right now, even the climate and the economy and AI and I don't know, whatever else is going on in the market. Where are we? Is research respected? Obviously, it's going to vary from company to company, but what's your take on that?
Andrea - 00:23:08: I think that's a big question Erin, and so much that is happening in the world that sometimes it's really hard to catch up on all of those things. I think we are in a really good moment for researchers all over the world. Of course, as you said, it really depends on the company, so the maturity of the company, it's crucial for the success of research, also for the happiness of the researchers, I think, as well. And I think we're in a really interesting moment because UX has been here for some years now. Everyone kind of knows what user experience is in more companies, in more projects. We are having more designers, and then I think the next level is to bring more researchers to the work, to the job. Before this kind of round of layoffs, I was getting so many offers every week, so I think there's a big urge to hire researchers. So I think we're in a really good moment to create change and also to evolve as a discipline. That's why I wanted to have this conversation. It's been marginalized, I believe, because we as a society think really short-term a lot of the times. So we usually create stuff that doesn't longer serve us for a few more years, and then we have to change it. And it's always the same kind of process. And I feel people are tired, and people want things that, of course, that they look good, but that they work, that they make sense, that they resonate with the audience. And to get into that level of complexity and understanding, you need more people listening to the clients. You need more people asking good questions. You need more people involved in the phase of understanding and empathizing. And of course, you will have to design afterwards, but designing wisely. Two days ago, I was in a town hall of this senior VP for technology, and I was so happy to hear that because I was really impressed that he said, this year we're going to really focus on UX, but specifically we're going to focus on user research, which it's crazy to me because there was thousands of people in that session. And you see when people understand the value of research and that helps us create meaningful change and not just design nice stuff, I think that's when the change starts to happen. And we as a company can do better as well.
Erin - 00:25:25: So you're seeing an increased appetite for strategic research.
Andrea - 00:25:29: Exactly. And this takes time, it takes effort, it takes people sharing that, a lot of presentations. But I think it's worth it. You feel really satisfied when you see people really saying, oh Andrea, it's wonderful you discovered this because we didn't know, we felt lost. Kind of like we were unable to see and you provided this kind of visibility for us. So thank you.
Erin - 00:25:51: What kinds of impacts have you seen? So it sounds like you've seen a lot in terms of clearly have platform and this increased enthusiasm for strategic research, for talking about user research and the value of research across the entire company. I guess one of the challenges with strategic research is because it is future looking, so long term it can take a while to see the impact of that work. But what sorts of impacts have you been able to see so far?
Andrea - 00:26:19: Of course, sometimes it's not as easy or quick as having a usability test and saying, we have to change this button or something or this navigation menu. But the changes are pretty quick in a way, because for example, picking off the ADP, we had a product, we didn't have much visibility on the end-to-end experience, so we didn't know how to design it better. So when we did the discovery work, this allowed us to understand in which steps we should focus on the journey. And then on those steps, we improved the experience. So it didn't take six years for us to make change, but it took maybe some months for me to run the research and then the designers, some other months to prove the experience and to change the designs. But in a timeframe of a year, we almost changed the whole product, which is mind blowing. But before doing all the changes and all the new designs, we really needed to understand where to focus on. So it really depends on the project, but I think the benefits are not far ahead.
Erin - 00:27:20: You mentioned as we were preparing for this conversation that some of the changes you've seen in research apply more broadly to other shields. I'd love to hear more about how you think about that.
Andrea - 00:27:30: So, and this is just, it's not that research myself that, but I think it's kind of something that we're seeing everywhere in the world. Also with what Erin you just mentioned about the climate change. I think we're starting to see we cannot live short-term. We have to create more long-lasting solutions. And also there's another kind of like trend that I'm seeing also from social media, for example, that people are tired of the nice pictures and the perfect looking stock. We want to see the real things. We want to create things that are meaningful. So I think that in a way it's connected to research because we're stopping. There was a big thing years back where the interface has to look nice. Oh, this looks really nice. Oh, you know, all of this kind of narrative. Whereas now it's much more about how these interface make people feel, how stress are them when they use it, how are we supporting them through that journey instead of, Oh, this looks nice. Of course it has to look appealing because like our site is really important. Well, you know, depending, but when we use something like our senses, different senses are important. But so I think that there's a connection with everything that's happening in the world with the long-term short-term thinking and also just creating more genuine products.
Erin - 00:28:50: How does this product see me and reflect me and how can research be part of an authentic experience of that?
Andrea - 00:28:58: Exactly.
Erin - 00:28:59: You talked a lot about courage, you know, and the need for folks to kind of exhibit more courage in their research to take that bigger seat at the table. Any tips on how to be courageous?
Andrea - 00:29:11: Yeah, I love this question. And I think the first thing, and I got asked a few weeks ago by a colleague of mine, he asked me like, how did you manage to get the promotion so quick? And I honestly never looked for it. Promotions is just something that I'm passionate about. I'm passionate about impact. I'm passionate about making real change, creating things in a way that feels good for everyone. And I said, look, I think that to be good at something, it doesn't have to be research, it can be everything. You have to really, first of all, get to know yourself. So I think that if you want to have the courage to do great stuff, you first have to be in a place that you feel comfortable in. I think you have to really understand what are you good at. What are you not good at? I'm good at some stuff, but I'm really bad at other stuff. So when you understand those kinds of things, am I better at running user-reduced tests? Am I more interested in having open-ended conversations? Am I good at coordinating a team or am I good about just creating reports? It really depends. When you understand what are your greatest skills, for example, am I good at communicating? Maybe I hate communicating and I would rather something else. So when you understand that, you can create a map for yourself of where you want to go. And when you feel that you are in a really genuine place, it's really much more easier to have a courage to speak up, to knock on the right doors, to involve people who maybe you are scared about involving. And of course, it's really important where you do that because there are companies that are, they don't feel safe enough to have that courage. So, you know, you cannot do that everywhere, but in the right places, I think that when you have the courage and you speak up, my experience has been that I've seen a big crowd of people embracing what I was sharing, which is really beautiful. So I would say, first of all, connect with yourself. And second, understand if the place that you work in is open to those kinds of things. And you can always ask.
Erin - 00:31:20: Are you a believer in play to your strengths or try to grow where you're weak or a little bit of both? Or so you've done your audit, you know what you're good at or you're not good at, then what?
Andrea - 00:31:29: I would say, and this is what Gary Vee says, and I really like him. I think personally, I go with my strengths. There are some things that maybe we haven't explored that we can explore, but once you feel that there's something that it feels really good to you, for example, in my case, I love presenting stuff. I think I have the teacher mentality. I considered myself like when I was younger, I thought maybe I have to be a teacher. So I think I have this kind of skill. I understood that I could leverage that and bring value through that. I would stick with my strengths, make them stronger. And what I'm not good at, I have so many good colleagues that they are fantastic at doing those things. And I would happily let them do those things.
Erin - 00:32:12: What about for someone who wants this seat at the big table and doesn't like presenting? Is that a required skill? Is there another way?
Andrea - 00:32:23: To be honest, I'm not sure. I think that when you, as a researcher, it's really important how you say stuff, how you communicate, what's your physical posture when you present. Like all of those things are really important because at the end you do your own work, but you have to share it. And a lot of times you can share, for example, a PDF, but we are overloaded with information. So, for me, what I found myself is that the best way for people to integrate information is repeating in different formats, different ways, and communicating, speaking about it. So I'm sure there's people who can thrive without mastering that. And maybe you don't have to be like a super master, but really make sure that you improve your skills, you understand how nonviolent communication works, how to navigate conflict, how to negotiate. There's a lot of negotiation on the big tables. So I think it's important. You don't have to be a master, but I would encourage you to improve if you want to sit there.
Erin - 00:33:27: You mentioned some good resources that would be good to link. Nonviolent communication comes up a lot. That'd be a good one to link and some others as well.
Andrea - 00:33:34: Yeah, I think that's fantastic, specifically because how you say things matters a lot.
Carol - 00:33:40: I imagine, is there some overlap between the skills that make you a good moderator and a presenter? I mean, they're different modalities.
Andrea - 00:33:48: That's a really good point. I think presenting is more like unidirectional and then moderating is kind of making sure that all the voices are heard, that you can integrate those voices without kind of having- of course, there is going to always be conflict and different views, but we can all leverage different points of views in a really positive way. So, I think those skills really overlap and that if you know how to do one thing, probably you're good at the other thing as well.
Carol - 00:34:15: You mentioned a few times pushback and conflict, and I imagine it feels like an area that might be a little bit different from moderating, especially when you're working with executives. I wonder, what are some things that you've learned about how to approach pushback? Anything to share?
Andrea - 00:34:30: I think pushback has been my biggest teacher. Ever. It's really uncomfortable, but it makes you a better person and a stronger researcher. I think you can have a variety of pushback. And in the article, you can read more about that, but there's the emotional pushback, which sometimes you discover something that shows that people maybe didn't do their job so well in the last five years. And then they come to the research and they feel like, oh my God, what is this person saying? It's going to put at risk my reputation. They say like, oh, you just interviewed five people or just 10 people. Oh, forget about this. And at the end, you know, you have to have the stability to say, to explain why 10 people is enough and to explain what saturation means and to explain, you know, what this matters. And also remember, something that I like to do is remembering people that we are in the same boat. Say, look, I understand that this might feel uncomfortable, but I'm just here to really help us. You know, this is not about judging anyone. It's really for us to grow and in a much more meaningful and better direction. So we're in the same boat. I try to every time remember everyone that I'm there to support. I'm not there to judge. So that's kind of one part of the emotional pushback. And then there's other kind of pushback like, oh, we've done this in the past and it didn't work. And then I try to, if it gets heated, I try to have specific conversations with people work. How are we going to do it better? I remember I was in like a senior leadership meeting and I was sharing with all the executives that the new research that I was planning to do. And there was someone who said, oh, but we've done this in the past and it didn't work. And you know, like in front of everyone, which for me was a bit condescending and rude. So I was kind of, I had it here in my mind. And then he came back after like some time, like maybe half an hour and he said, look, I'm really sorry. I apologize because I think I overstepped. I really wanted to help you and I think it didn't land well. So I'm really sorry. And I said, okay, I'm going to say these apologies because it was not okay. Sometimes also respecting yourself is really important in those scenarios because sometimes we say like, oh, it's fine. Oh, don't worry. But no, respect is really important. I make mistakes and I hope people have the trust to come to me and say, look, this didn't go well and that we can find this kind of mutual agreements. So yeah, I think that embracing pushback is such a thing and it's really important and it makes you a better researcher if we all learn how to integrate that.
Erin - 00:37:11: I'd love to hear in the we already tried it scenario. You mentioned, sort of learning more what they tried before and then how this time is gonna be better. I wonder how you think about what to do in the room in that moment. You know, you could dig deeper on what went wrong last time in a future session, but actually, what do you do in the room to answer that question?
Andrea - 00:37:27: It's not easy. Luckily, I didn't have many times people say that in big rooms, but I can tell you what I would do. I would say, look, thanks for sharing that. It's really important that you can share those things and those experiences. Since this is, I would need a lot of information to understand what went well and what didn't go well. Maybe we can take this in another conversation. We can discuss it and see how this project is different or not and how we can, you know, bring the both projects together and learn from both things. So I would try to not take the conversation there because it need a lot of information and probably everyone in the room doesn't really care about that. So I think it's important to know where to speak out. And I'll also invite people, if you also want to discuss that, just drop your name in the chat and we can have all of us the conversation.
Carol - 00:38:18: It sounds like in both of these, you're taking sort of the energy that's coming at you and doing this sort of jujitsu. Okay, we're in the same boat, we're moving forward together. Right, very interesting.
Andrea - 00:38:28: Exactly. I think even when you present remotely, you can feel the energy of the room. You see if people are open to it, if people are reactive. So managing those kind of energies when there's a lot of people or a few people, it's crucial. And I think that's a good technique or like a good skill to have or to improve as a researcher.
Erin - 00:38:48: What ideas do you want to leave folks with? There's a lot to cover here. There's a lot to think about with getting this access to large groups, to influential people, to really raising the profile of research within organizations, right? So if you had any, final takeaways for folks to think about what would they be?
Andrea - 00:39:08: I think that we are in an amazing moment and I think we don't have to say that for granted. I think that we as researchers have known so much more and can bring so much more value. And I believe that wherever you are listening from, I'm sure that there's things that you can do to much more meaningful impact. I know it's scary. I know it's difficult. No one has told us that that was going to be easy, but I promise you it's worth it. And I would say, take the courage, do your job. And we as researchers have the capacity to really see beyond stuff and connect with what's true for our customers. So I would say embrace that truth. And if you have ideas on how to solve those challenges and maybe are new things that no has asked you to do, I encourage you to bring it to the table and to say why that is relevant to you. And to do that, it always helps to have a really good supportive network at work, at home, with friends, so you can feel confident that you bring the best, but you are also supported with beautiful people on the way. So that would be my message to all the researchers who are listening.
Erin - 00:40:21: Thanks so much.
Andrea - 00:40:22: My pleasure. Thank you, Erin and Carol.
Erin - 00:40:26: Hey there, it's me, Erin.
JH - 00:40:27: And me, JH.
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