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BlogAwkward Silences
  • Last Updated:

September 3, 2020

Rising to the Moment: UXR, Diversity, and Inclusion with Randy Duke of Cantina

How we can make UXR more inclusive, address inequalities in our systems, and recruit more diverse participants.

Carrie Boyd

This week on the podcast, Erin and JH chatted with Randy Duke, Senior Research & Design Strategist at Cantina. They covered a topic that's on many people's minds right now, systemic racism and inequality. Randy talked us through UXR's role in all this, how we can work to change the systems we work in, and how we can create more inclusive research.


[4:58] A good place to start thinking about how to address inequality is to reflect on the system we work in.

[6:03] People in UXR help to bring truth to the organization through research, which puts them in a good position to do it in a greater context.

[8:46] Now is the time to really dig into the messiness that comes with the details of user research.

[10:22] You need to be actively seeking out feedback and information from all of your users and thinking about their unique situations. If you don't, you're opening yourself up for failure.

[12:49] We spend a lot of time asking if we can build something, rather than should we built it.

[14:57] Don't look at where you can go wrong when solving a new problem, look at what you can do to get it right. That means including people of diverse backgrounds from the start.

[18:25] To make more inclusive panels when you recruit, think about the demographics that are actually important to your study. If you're recruiting for a test of a new keyboard on a mobile phone, does the person's income or location really matter?

[26:35] Inclusivity is not only the right thing to do morally, it's also the law.

[28:25] Randy talks about the difference between how we think something will be used vs. how it is actually used and the importance of checking in.

[31:35] It's also important to think about how features and products could be abused.

[35:08] At the end of the day, systems work because we allow them to work. Taking the time to stand up and say things should be different is the only way to create change.

The best stories about user research

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Additional Reading

Randy recommended a few books for those interested in learning more about UXR, design, racial inequality, and inclusion.

Design Justice by Sasha Costanza-Chock

Cross Cultural Design by Senongo Akpem

Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design by Kat Holmes


Erin: [00:00:29]  

hello everybody. And welcome back to awkward silences today. We're here with Randy Duke.

He is a senior research and design strategist at Cantina. we're here with, uh, Topical topic. We try to keep our content pretty evergreen, but, we're talking about this moment in time and specifically what's going on with the need for diversity and inclusion and UXR, especially. Given, some of the recent, uh, events around black and African American people being shot by police. the acknowledgement of many things, folks who maybe weren't thinking about it as much previously have, racism in our country and in the world. And we want to talk about that and we want to talk about it, how UX research fits into that and the role of the work That we all love and how we can address some of what's happening and make things better.

So small topic today. Uh, but thank you, Randy Duke for joining us to talk about it.

Randy: [00:01:49] Absolutely glad to be here. Thanks for having me. 

Erin: [00:01:52] And we've got JH here too.

JH: [00:01:54] Yeah. I mean, it's a topic I think we've wanted to dig into for a while. So I'm super grateful to Randy for joining us and helping us engage on it. 

Erin: [00:02:01] Great. So Randy, let's do what we do and just jump right in. what's going on in America right now and how does UXR fit into it? I think these are big topics that we're all wrestling with and acknowledging and coming to terms with. and how has UXR and I unique position to Process and acknowledge and make this better. 

Randy: [00:02:25] I think one of the first steps is actually acknowledging that we could be kind of part of the problem and, or part of the solution within our space as, UX researchers are just, within the field of technology overall. and I think that, one of the ways in which we can even just start is just acknowledging that we are a part of a system.

We are a part of. Larger things that are at play, with respect to the world that we live in. the things that we all interact with are designed by other people who have different types of agendas, different types of backgrounds and different experiences that may or may not actually reflect, you or I who actually need this to fulfill some kind of goal or purpose.

So where we sit, particularly, within UXR, I think that we have a renewed responsibility to ensure that we are presenting what we're seeing presenting, what we're hearing and being able to stand, with the data. as points of decision and action within the organizations that we're interacting with.

And I think that now is the time to not necessarily shy away from that, but to really just reflect on, our role as information and guidance for the future.

Erin: [00:03:41] Yeah. And when it comes to some of the systemic, you mentioned, UX researchers and product teams, exist in systems, right? Not in isolation. And one of those systems that we're seeing is, a long history of systemic racism. And obviously this is going to look. Different to different people in different roles, in different companies. but how do we bring acknowledging that into some of the work that, the research work, the design work, the storytelling work, That, UX folks are, are engaging in.

Randy: [00:04:14] Yeah, I think that, 

a good place to start is. Just really, looking at what tools 

that you 

have in front of you. And I know for myself, I identify as a black person, I'm a black male, if you will. and I know that there have been, even within my own personal experience, Opportunities to actually speak up for groups that are not necessarily in the room, around some of the research practices that we might have, things around even just recruiting, how we're identifying some of our kind of, behavioral models or personas within our company, how we're talking about our customers or the ideal versus the non-ideal.

and I think that it starts there, it starts with. Just really taking a reflective look at, what are the things that we're doing? What are some examples in hindsight? of blind spots in which we've had as we're, looking into, learning more about where we fit into the systems that are at play and really, operationalizing that our products need to respond to the world around us.

And it would actually be doing a disservice to everybody. If we are excluding any races, cultures, creeds, or people.

JH: [00:05:29] Um, to, build off that the thing I've been thinking about is, and I'm curious how your experience lines up with this is people in user research tend to be really like human centered, empathetic people, probably pretty open minded and progressive in a lot of cases. And I'm curious when the topic of Let's do some self reflection and look at our past research or look for biases or blind spots or whatever it may be.

do you find that people tend to embrace that because they're eager to grow and improve? Or is it like, almost met with some defensiveness of I'm a good person. Like I like humans and I'm empathetic. Like I don't, I don't have biases. have you seen it go one way or the other in your experience?

Randy: [00:06:03] Yeah, that's a good question. So I think, in my experience, I guess I have seen both, particularly around the phrase human centered, just because that. That term has other layers to it that I don't necessarily want to get into in full right now. but the other part to that is just, we are UXR.

We are supposed to be looking outwards and truly making sense of the world around us. And that needs to force you as somebody who has taken on this role in society as a person who is going to bring truth. Into the office or to bring truth to a team of people who are going to be building, if you're not the person who's actually doing that, building yourself.

and a part of that is the responsibility of, some of the traditional research methods that require that you are accounting for bias that require that you have a statistical confidence level. so these are things that might not, I have been, it's fallen to the wayside of what the hard practice is of UXR.

But still something that, it has been a part of the tradition that could potentially make its way back in as a case for why you need to talk to more people or why you need to actually reflect some of the, some of the actual customers that you have as opposed to, some of the ideal States, because.

Ideal does not really exist. It doesn't it's temporary. so you need to actually get out there and learn about the real situations that your people have. as well as who you unintentionally been excluding this whole time with the conversations about race, 

Erin: [00:07:36] Yeah. And I think that to me brings up an interesting sort of dilemma, right? Where. And the goal right of research is to get out there and to see and describe it, the world in all its messiness, as it actually exists, right? There is no ideal. There's only reality. On the other hand, there's this need to simplify and abstract, So that we can move forward. we, you and I were talking a little bit Randy about personas for instance, and how they can really, be like the wrong level of abstraction, In that quest to describe the world as it actually exists. How do you. how what's your researcher to do to, move insights forward trends forward, and at the same time, be inclusive and embrace that messy, not ideal reality that we live in. 

Randy: [00:08:36] I'm going to say that this is now the time for rolling your sleeves up. And getting into the messiness of those details, 

whether you are looking forward to this or whether you are apprehensive and feel that what you had been doing before, hasn't really been part of the problem. the world is a different place right now.

There are different lights that are shown on to some of the problems that have already have been existing. For quite some time, as well as practices, that thought would have been a solution to a problem, but are not, in actual practice. So looking at something like our persona. just in terms of how those are pretty much constructed as well as what its purpose is from within your research or, and you're delivering that story around your company.

If you do not, include many different personas, if you're not including, some of the situational differences or some of the barriers. That, your actual people have, then that is something that is, something I think that you might actually be better off using, different storytelling methods or different methods around something like an archetype.

as well as other kinds of jobs stories and getting back to, why are we doing this research? what problems do we need to solve as this business before reconciling who are we like solving this for, because that's where things can become conflated as well as some people can actually be lost.

in that conversation. So I pointed to some of the examples around, some of the, developments within, some, computer vision, activities and products, where if you don't actually have enough training data, you could actually be mislabeling people or worse. You could have the societal impact of providing a tool or a technology that says it's going to find criminals.

And yet it's actually mislabeling politicians, athletes, and other celebrities as criminals, because you did not have enough race-based data as in the kind of data that you needed. for our success criteria. and I'm not sure where that could have gotten lost if that was just, these are the, this is the type of person that we have or where your data sets even really come from to get to that point.

But if you're not actively seeking out different people, then you are opening yourself up for failure and for harm to others.

JH: [00:11:22] There was, a recent example, a couple of weeks back on a different kind of diversity vector, but, an algorithm that people announced that was, based off names that were inputted, they were going to try to guess gender. and just why that was a thing that people decided to build in the first place.

I'm not quite sure, but. How they went to market with it in this climate at this moment. it was just, it was really cool, crazy to watch. And people were just going through, because it was like an interactive thing. And just, you could watch people throw in names and take out the results. And it was like just horribly biased and off the Mark.

And it was just like, what, I've just, I'm actually genuinely curious, like the team that built that, like what went into it and, how they landed there. Cause, as soon as it was out people, as you just mentioned, just had a ton of feedback on it and rightfully 

Randy: [00:12:01] Yeah. who, who okayed that? yeah, it could have been, proof of technology in some form or another, that could have lived within the halls of a place, but here's also what happens when you don't have enough people who have been maybe perhaps mis-gendered before or who have different names of different cultural backgrounds that have different meanings.

But you'd never would have shown anybody that, and I don't know what the response has been beyond. Just like that initial revulsion or if it's like a large enough brand that they can re quote unquote, recover from something like that. But why would you even get to that point? Like why would you present something out to the world like that?

Which if you actually have any kind of practice or any kind of thinking process behind, the things that you're putting out there and who you can hurt. why would you do that? I don't understand that one. That's interesting,

JH: [00:12:48] there's a sentiment, Of, I think within technology people often say we spend so much time, wondering if we can build something and we don't spend enough time asking yourself if we should build it. And I think that's kinda where the UXR piece comes in particular, can really help on that like more important question, is this something that we need, and is this actually something that's going to work as it should.

Randy: [00:13:04] right?

Yeah. Cause I wonder. 

Erin: [00:13:06] Oh, go ahead. I was going to say that, I think like sometimes right to do the, the devil's advocate in terms of, 

And I don't believe it. So devil's advocate, right? Oh, I it's hard to imagine the folks who built this, like gender guessing algorithm had like really noble intentions.

I would assume they were like neutral or, not that thoughtful, but like probably not malicious probably. and like people separate when they try to do the good inclusive thing, And I think that, there can be a sort of like counter reaction to that of, why try if I'm going to get canceled or,  criticized for trying, and as you were talking, Randy, I was just thinking about like, Earlier you were talking about people's blind spots, And you don't know what you don't know, and that can be a really hard place to start from. Like  how would I be inclusive of something I can't even think of to think of when it comes to, to racial inclusion and trying to address what we're seeing happening. And it's been happening for a long time and just starting to recognize.

It's really just asking the question right. Of like, what if everybody wasn't white, right. Like, seems like it would go a long way. Like if you just started with that question, you would probably reach a different algorithm when it comes to facial recognition. It's not that hard to ask that question.

I'm just curious what you think about. How do people go from, okay, I see there's a problem. I don't want to mess it up by trying, but like making iterative improvements and trying to iteratively move in the right direction on some of this, any advice there. Okay.

Randy: [00:14:46] That's a, yeah, that's a really good point.   I think. From my experience from what I have seen, especially around to the point of, 

we don't want to necessarily make a misstep, so we're not going to go in a certain direction. I think that is a, pretty reductive way of looking at what your options are when it comes to trying something new.

and I knew it was, a group of people who have lived experiences who exist in the areas that you also live in. So there are ways to actually, just reach out and, or, make a consorted effort to actually engage the communities that, you. May already acknowledged that you have those white spots.

So I know we alluded to some of the persona work earlier, but there was some other activities that one could do around even, like inverse exercises where, who isn't this thing for. and then you can go out and make sure that you're validating something like that, or, We have a question before, or we have a thing that already exists in the market, which is where I tend to say, I see more of the, the focus on like diversity and, or just antichrist is kind of work is evaluating things that already exist, versus, as you're forming your opinions on, Or forming a design, a track where strategic direction for something just include more people, consciously.

so that you have, something that could help you mitigate that risk factor at play. Yeah. And there are many organizations that kind of, that not that exist, to speak to some of these other kind of like marginalized groups, especially if you are in a position where historically groups have been and excluded from something.

So I'm talking about you healthcare, I'm talking about you within the, the banking and finance sector. there are there documented points that. There have been, laws in the books that have made opportunities more challenging for these groups of people. So you might need to have different approaches.

And I think that has been, that has come up now, even with, some of the, what is it like the COVID testing? not just testing, but even the trials where some of the groups that have been most impacted by this for one reason or another. Who, happened to be, minorities, maybe black or in the, Latin community, where they're not engaged, for one reason or another.

And then there are several layers to why that could be. And, I know that people are making the effort to try to uncover those things now, but it's not something that will be harmful, but it will be beneficial once those answers come to light.

 JH: [00:17:34] to go back a little bit, you mentioned the persona stuff earlier and how that can, backfire it in certain cases from a, inclusivity perspective. how do you think about it in like in the recruiting space too, of if you're trying to get, a diverse and representative sample, to talk to, the tools that enable that are also the same tools that would enable, a bad actor to specifically and deliberately exclude certain people from certain backgrounds, or, race or ethnicity, um, How do you reconcile that like some of the tools that help push us forward are the same tools that can be used for, for bad intent.

Randy: [00:18:05] Yeah, we'll come back to our problems with systems. so a couple of things that one needs to do is obviously do a little bit more homework. And like I said, because everybody's very human centered, do that self reflection and realize, and ask yourself what are things that I've done before and the results of which are not, truly stand with what.

I want it to be, to make more inclusive experiences. And I would say that just because you have options within some of, like these kinds of recruiting or outreach platforms for, levels of granularity does not mean that they always apply to the types of studies and the types of research that you're doing in that moment.

I'll give an example of if you're, if your focus is on, a keyboard on a mobile device, do I really need to know well, somebodies, income status? Do I really need to know that they live in a city? if the focus of this study is mostly on like the actual usability of something.

That is something that could be more broad in scope and, or you can become more clear in terms of your actual, recruitment screeners, to be sure that you're getting a variability of some of the behavioral characteristics or some of the attitudes that people have about things so that the study is more focused on that.

And it's funny that you'd bring that up because I've had cases where, we were doing something that was supposed just to be lean and quick. And we're only going to run this once. But we still only want just five people for an event study. and as soon as we start talking about numbers, outside of people who might, be researchers themselves, that can be a little bit tricky, but it's okay, now I have a responsibility of finance.

This is going to be something that is going to be quicker or more. the story is going to travel more within my organization. I need to be more intentional that. It's going to need to be a little bit more broad in scope, to the point where I accidentally, it was something that was supposed to be US-based then I didn't even check that box.

And I had a few people from like Germany and Canada speaking about, I forgot what it was, but it was a very us centric, local regional type of thing, but it was cause we got some usable really information and we've learned other things, but. There are ways of just using the tools, not as, you don't have to use every different part of the tool for every different study, but just really get back to, why are we testing this right now?

Or why are we showing this to people right now? And how can we use this to inform decisions later?

 Erin: [00:21:19] You know the idea that for like a usability tests, maybe it's more important to target on relevant behaviors versus, Ethnicity or racial kind of quota. and that test, you hear these, I think 99% invisible did a thing on, exclusion and research and you have these crash test dummies that were all male bodies, white male bodies, That or medical research, that's all been done on white men and, the list goes on and, so that's not good. I'm just wanting, hearing if, why are there things you don't know, you don't know in a usability test or you could be excluding someone, based on sort of racial or cultural.

Experience. and you know what I'm saying? You wouldn't think to even know what that would be. If you don't make an effort to be diverse in your, test subjects for all kinds of tests, I'm hearing you say that's not the case, but tell me why 

Randy: [00:22:15] Yeah, 

no. It's a good question. So I think some of the. Not to conflate the problem, but some of the challenges still come back to just like the challenges that, 

I have faced and, or know personally that others face within UXR of, having some kind of efficacy within your organization and having that kind of impact, that the things that you've observed and or are, have synthesized are going to turn into actions that are going to be beneficial of what you saw and the people in which they impact, with respect to, some of the, Some of the challenges around being able to, turn those stories into something that's real or making sure that you are like finding out what those blind spots are by truly capturing some of those opportunities or some of those other questions that you might've had an established kind of hypothesis before you begin any kind of study, before.

Actually realizing that it's continue, this is a continuous type of work. Like it's never going to be this one study is the conclusive one. And this is going to, this should inform our company for the next 15 years, because times change, as well as the society in which we live in changes, So the information needs to be relevant and needs to be topical and it needs to also be something that, can be, re not just repeatable, but, really can stand on its own with the story that you've formed around him.

JH: [00:23:56] Want me up here, because I think it's a good point where kind of maybe some of our ideals are things people have in their head bumps up against reality. five is such like a, it's like a famous number and use the research like five minutes and I'm just thinking of it in my head.

It's you just can't get five people that are like a perfect cross section of all these different, diversity, factors of diversity in terms of, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, maybe you could work hard and find them very varied bunch of people, but like, and so to your point, like at some point you're bumping up against that limit and you need to think about.

what is the, what are the like angles or the types of backgrounds we need to hear from them to make sure we're not creating blind spots in this research. And just focusing on those is in some ways in that one study, maybe as good as you can do, but when you zoom out and look across your studies, that's when you can start to maybe find other patterns.

Is that like a fair way to think of it?

Randy: [00:24:41] Yeah. So looking at it from, The results was like that single study, as well as some of the open kind of like questions that you now have about any other types of tangential work, which is why I think it's important that, within companies, if it's not the actual researchers themselves or other product people, even within ops or how you're, you've captured these stories that you are labeling them with.

The actual labels that would say that this one could be for, a marginalized group. just so that you're starting to track that and you can all collectively learn from the insights that you've gathered, whether intentionally or unintentionally. and I think. That's also why, it's a little more challenging now with, with COVID in the different social distancing orders that exist within different pockets of the country in the world, but observational studies and, or finding ways of doing other kinds of co-design so that you can actually learn.

And also just play back to the people that you're working with and learning from, so that you're actually capturing their sentiment and kind of accounting for your own personal bias, of their not having the same lived experience of the people that you're working with. So yeah, just making sure that you're like tagging those things and also working with people.

Erin: [00:26:12] yup. Being internally inclusive of, I always like when research methods are turned internal and can Forward better working relationships, By bringing some of those same skills internally. we've talked about some of the kind of moral imperatives around, trying to be more inclusive, particularly around re recruiting and asking the right questions. what about some of the legal imperatives to be inclusive?

Randy: [00:26:39] Whoops. Yeah, there goes the, um,

Erin: [00:26:42] those pesky laws? 

Randy: [00:26:44] the kind of elephant in the room. with respect to the fact that 

yeah. besides the laws that require that you have, equal access, 

particularly if you are, in the public sector, Yeah, these things are things where you don't want to open yourself up to any kind of mitigation besides it's literally the right thing to do.

Like why, as any kind of product or service organization, would you want to actively bar people from using the thing that you make or the thing that you do. Like I don't think that would make sense from a business standpoint at all. And fortunately in some ways or another, there are laws on the books that, that do stand to make sure that you're, that people, consumers, users, what have you are pretty much protected by the fact that businesses should be able to serve me.

And I have a right to access those products and services. Yeah, we're seeing that a lot in the, like the accessibility space as well. particularly around, this is a 30 year of, the ADA that was passed under the former Bush administration. and just really adherent to the fact that people need ways to get to things.

And you're providing something that. That should be some answers to that. but it's like that conversation between UI and UX, where just because of an experience that's designed doesn't mean that it's really going to operate that way. And you have to actually mitigate that. I think of like body cameras as an example of that.

Thinking, top of mind, as well as, very much in the news. People thought that body cameras could be the answer to solving some of the challenges that we're seeing around the country around, some of the violence. And, in some cases it has helped, but in others we're finding that's not solving the real problem that.

There is a clear discrepancy in what, the expectations are for police and for the public, particularly for those that are black or African American.

Erin: [00:28:56] So are you saying, a body cam will tell you what's happening, but not get to the kind of underlying, why are these things issues in the first place or? 

Randy: [00:29:05] Yeah. As well as part of that, as we 

thought we came up with a solution, but it is clearly, it does not having the same level of impact. And, 

that's just something that, you know, With all types of organizations that you've put something out there to be consumed and used, or, average by someone else.

It's also your responsibility to we'll check back in and make sure that it's serving its intended purpose. And that's something that. I think should resonate with the rest of us within UXR, who should have some level of, professional, wherewithal to want to know how things are going, so that you can make some better.

JH: [00:29:46] Yeah, that one's tough too. Cause it's if you actually it's like, when you think about the body cam stuff too, it's A police officer, who's decided to break the law, might also be willing to break the rules and turn the camera off for a little bit too. You know what I mean?

So it's it's hard to imagine it as being effective as we all maybe hoped when you know that the person's already doing something they're not supposed to be doing. not pile something else in there too while they're at it? You know what I mean? To give them some deniability and shit.

It's a.

Erin: [00:30:13] which not that it's really the point, but since it's, we're getting into like the flop logic here Of I don't know that it's, the police state works, If this fear of being caught works, It's almost proving the point that maybe there's a problem with that idea in the first place.

Randy: [00:30:30] Sorry. I just want to clarify a little bit, 

I just brought that example 

of what about really, emphasizing just the difference of kind of your designed experience. 

someone thought it was a good idea to roll these things out and that should solve it and actually taking the next step of, determining whether or not this is really solving the problem and.

And taking ownership of that. And again, going back to is this reducing, crime or, and, or harm to other people? 

JH: [00:31:01] Have you ever seen within you are people just kinda ask the question of Hey, how do you think this could be abused? and the reason I asked that is, I think recently on Twitter they did something where it's they made it's like public to see lists and stuff that I think people have.

And really quickly people pointed out like, Hey, this is like a real, like a potential for like abuse and like in bad things that can, people can now do on this. And it seemed really obvious to a lot of people once they saw it. And it's should we have just asked people during this process, Hey, are there any ways you can think this, might be abused by, you know, an abusive, significant other, or, people who have bad intent.

it seems maybe just asking that question could help in a lot of cases.

Randy: [00:31:36] right? Yeah, no, that's a good point. I think. from what I've seen as well as from, just my understanding of even how some teams might actually get the projects that they're building. Sometimes they may not feel that they have the right say in the matter of whether a feature would go forward or not, or, what their kind of success criteria or requirements are to understanding the problem space before.

It's just something that would seem so logical internally that, Hey, this is something I like, or this is something that people have asked for, without, also to the point of what does a bad actor look like. And sometimes that's where, again, something like a. A persona expectation or like deeper research on what bad actors could be, might be a little bit more problematic or take a little bit more time.

And that's usually something where people they want to answer as quickly. And it's switching the, the understanding of how to interpret. That request of this feature change of switching over to something like behavioral expectations and situational expectations, so that you can look at the spectrum of a really good situation all the way to a really bad one and kind of Mark that against any kind of like behavioral model that you're using internally.

so I. I'm starting to have more conversations with people about some of the Symantec differentials that they might be using to scale what the expectations of inexperience are. And part of that could be, this is the least ideal situation. How could this be used for evil or, not as intended.

And again, they probably could have asked a couple of more people about that.

Erin: [00:33:29] Yeah, just the, bring the conversation back to where we started full circle, if you will. We started talking about systems, there's good systems, there's bad systems. We design systems and researchers are used to this. and it's something he was asking about earlier was, when things are so big and complicated, I think it can be.

Discouraging to try to make progress when it comes to, racist systems and the UX researchers role in improving those systems. Are there things that you're seeing work kind of chip away at the issues in terms of impact designers can have, are there, we've talked about some questions that you can ask and some methods you can employ, At that they're used to using right.

To solving complicated problems in messy systems. Can we bring some of those methods and habits into this, even messier system, because it's so uncomfortable to talk about. It's so uncomfortable to reflect and acknowledge. And so that's another barrier to finding solutions, right? how do your researchers bring those skills of dealing in the messy reality of complicated systems?

And when there aren't these kind of perfectly neat, causal we'll solve this like small all of them with the small solution, their bigger problems interconnected. How, how can researchers find their place, toward making positive progress?

Randy: [00:35:04] Well,

Erin: [00:35:05] In 30 seconds or less. 

Randy: [00:35:07] okay.  at the end of the day systems only work 

because we allow them, to work, 

whether we like it or not, as long as you were within. Your organization, or just as a practitioner in the space to have impact, there will always be opportunities that may or may not always present themselves as the right time to talk about the open questions about who you're making things and who was left out of the way that we have our systems set up.

There are very big problems. There are also very important people and impactful people. Who've been working within this domain of expertise, whether they've been traditionally known as, UXR people or ethicists or other people who have been on the side of the law to uncouple some of the challenges that these systems have caused for people. So there are analogies that exist. There are other people that should be reached out to. And I think that the challenges become because for some people, this challenge seems daunting and also new at the same time that it can be overwhelming. It's also very overwhelming for the people who have to live through this and they need your help.

You may not get to talk to them explicitly all the time, but the things that we work on, the things that we've dedicated, our working time to impact other people's lives, whether we like it or not. So with that as the responsibility of ensuring that you are learning from people about their lived experiences, So that you can bring those stories into your organizations and be able to make the kind of culture change to the way that things work so that things can be better for everyone.

It's better for customers that might have been marginalized who may or may not have even continued to get your product or service. And now the business benefits by also having opportunities to also partner with different groups, to learn more about things that you may or may not actually uncover your next coworkers or, next great ideas by working in a space with problems that may actually be very similar to some other work that you're doing.

So I think a little more than 30 seconds, but people are working on it. You're not alone in this. And. There are people who need you to speak up as you're learning through this.

JH: [00:38:02] on that note. And I was thinking, we probably should have asked this right from the start, how are you doing what's how has your experience been lately and how are you holding up?

Randy: [00:38:09] I'm going to be very honest with you. I'm overwhelmed. when I wake up in the morning, I'm just a guy who. Wants to learn things and deliver stories to people so that they get inspired to do the right thing. but as of recent events have now become a black researcher who can help guide these kinds of conversations or expose some of the challenges that people have been facing.

And for those who've worked closely with me, they'll know that I have already been doing this. It just had never needed to be said, with the same type of language or the same type of fervor. But if you have other people who are like on your team who do want to bring up that, I don't think that's really the right way to go.

And here's some evidence to support it. I think you should probably listen. for myself, I'm just a little overwhelmed, but I'm also optimistic because these are the kinds of questions. Of like people who I'm not going to fully say walk because that's the wrong term for this, the wrong context for this.

But I will say, who are, I think I've heard it before starting to wake up. and this is the kind of good trouble that people should be getting into of really looking at, this world around us and whether you like it or not, you have an impact to make. So overwhelmed and tired of some of the things I am pretty optimistic as well as looking forward to learning from others who have been in this space so deeply and are teaching me a lot about, other ways to be better.

I kind of sharing the stories of those whose stories haven't been shared.

JH: [00:39:54] early in the conversation that has really stuck with me in the sense of, about how, all of these systems and these services and these products and these apps and stuff, were built by people. And I think 

that framing is really, for me, like really powerful because it just immediately implies that then people can be the ones who change these things or improve these things or make them better.

And to your point about like optimism, I think if we are going to make progress here, we have to find ways to like, Maintain our hope and our belief that we can see things like bend and improve and make changes and hopefully make them faster and larger. cause I think if you just, if you fall into the pessimistic, there's nothing we can do here that there's no bigger killer of progress than people losing their belief that, you can change things.

And so I think, you frame that early on, has really stuck with me. And I think as a, as an important part of this.

Erin: [00:40:38] Encourage, I think, the UX researchers role, often come in medium and an interpreter and a storyteller. but, as we've talked about in the past, it's, goal is to be, objective in a way, but not, neutral. Yeah. And to, bring what's way into the research itself, but also into the, the findings and the conclusions of therefore what we need to do is, I think it's a time that calls for courage for everyone and.

Hopefully, we've talked about a few ways. Researchers can tap into their own courage and find their influence to try to make a difference here. thanks so much for joining us, Randy.

JH: [00:41:20] Yeah, thanks. This is, this has been super interesting. Really appreciate it

Randy: [00:41:23] you both for having me and hopefully, people start finding it into themselves to just keep doing more.

Carrie Boyd

Content Creator

Carrie Boyd is a Content Creator at User Interviews. She loves writing, traveling, and learning new things. You can typically find her hunched over her computer with a cup of coffee the size of her face.

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