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Research Through (the Looking) Glass

After the great feedback on my last post (thanks to Twitter, Facebook and G+ friends for the questions and feedback!) I realized I need to take you along more often as I go on my Glass Explorer journey. 

Ok, time to get down to business. 

When I applied for Glass the two key areas for "Exploring" I put in my application were market research and social media. It's (very) early days yet in my Explorer journey, but here's where I am so far...

Social Media
Glass will feed in Twitter mentions, Google Messenger IMs, G+ mentions, and let's you post pictures and videos out to those same platforms. The integration with social media platforms is great for posting photos on-the-go: "Ok Glass, take a picture...Share with Facebook Friends" - it's that easy.  I can also voice reply to tweets and favorite tweets via Glass. I haven't found any Instagram integration yet, but I'm sure someone's working on that. 

Thoughts to date: Glass is great for on-the-go posting and replying on social media. But remember I'm not a social media manager for a product...I'm guessing that may be a lot harder to handle via Glass but it likely wouldn't be your primary interface anyway.

Market Research
Ok, let's get down to the good stuff...

I'm aware of a small group of (ahem, rockstar!) market researchers with Glass:

I look forward to hearing what this group of #mrxExplorers discovers about Glass, and I'm sure there are more of us out there! If you know of market research Glass Explorers (or are one!) let me know in the comments.

Here's are a few of the many research-related topics I'm in the early stages of looking into via Glass:

  • Using Glass to take short videos for IDIs. We're often doing quick IDIs at tradeshows and other events and being able to take a quick video, and being able to enable that by voice command, is something we're testing out.  I like that it breaks down the barrier of holding an iPad, clipboard, other note-taking device and allows the interview to at least seem more spontaneous.
  • Allowing clients to "see through my eyes" through Glass at an event. Whether it's broadcasting those IDIs to a team back in the home office, or allowing remote clients to get an "in-event" experience. There are several Glass apps ("Glassware" is the official name) that are either live or in process around this idea. Hang w/ is the first one out of the gate with live POV broadcasting, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do. 
  • Capturing qualitative. In this area it's more about thinking ahead to when (and if) Glass "hit big" in the marketplace. If they do, we need to think about how we can ask our respondents to use them to gather data. The work that is being done via mobile devices right now by companies such as Revelation in terms of capturing consumer behavior, emotions, and context can certainly be extended to Glass when it hits the consumer market. In many ways (through my rudimentary testing so far), capturing visuals through Glass is easier and more intuitive than taking out your smartphone to take a picture or video.  
  • Presentations! For those of us who do a LOT of public speaking, what could be better than slides, speech notes or prompts via Glass? You can bet that I'll be trying out the Glassware in this area, and the two that are trending right now are YourShow and Glassentation. Stay tuned for more on both!
Much much more to come as I dig into testing the above!

Finally, I have to note that one of the biggest and best surprises about Glass is the community of Explorers and Google Glass staff, otherwise known as #Glassfamily. I've worked on a lot of product development and also research communities in my time so feel like I've seen a lot...and the Explorers group has really wowed me. I'm incredibly impressed with the helpfulness, kindness, creativity and spirit of adventure of the Explorers.
Amazing mosaic by Kris Kitchen of the Glass Explorers



Maine Ideas Worth Spreading - A Recap of TEDxDirigo 2013

"TED talks"

Just hearing that conjures up big names (think Sheryl Sandberg extolling women to lean in or Bill Gates releasing mosquitoes into the crowd), and big ideas (robots, exoskeletons, big data, vulnerability). 

Many of us have heard of TED talks, and it's likely that we're some of the millions that have watched TED talks - especially those that have gone viral on social media. The statistics are staggering. As of 11/13/13, TED talks have been watched one billion times worldwide

I've been a superfan of TED ever since the conference talks started to be released online back in 2006, and harbor a not-so-secret desire to attend the annual Long Beach conference. 

Here's a little background: TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an annual conference in Long Beach, California, curated by Chris Anderson. Just like TED's mission of "ideas worth spreading" the TED brand has spread as well to encompass additional conferences including TEDGlobal,, TEDWomen, TEDMED, the TED Prize, TED Fellows, and the independently organized TEDx events. 

The TEDx events are "designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level" and follow the same structure of talks up to 18 minutes on a variety of topics, presented in engaging and innovative ways. 

We're incredibly lucky in Maine that we have a TEDx event in our own backyard! TEDxDirigo started up in 2010 to "celebrate innovation and creativity in Maine and to be a catalyst for positive change." 

I was thrilled this year to be invited to attend the fourth iteration of TEDxDirigo on November 3rd in Brunswick.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm no longer a "TED virgin" (yes, that phrase actually does exist). 

This year's TED event was held at the Cabot Mill in Brunswick in a space that was part art gallery, part restaurant (Frontier - yum!). The program went from approximately 9 to 5 and was staggered in three groups of around 6 speakers.  Yes, that's a lot of speakers and a lot of topics...and it was a lot to take in on a Sunday! If you attend a TED conference, be prepared to say "my brain is completely full" by the end of it. 

The theme was "Generate" and everything from the speakers' themes to the application process was along the lines of: "What do you generate and bring into the world/to life?"

Reminders of the Generate theme were abundant

Some of my favorite talks included: 

  • Alicia Eggert who creates amazing kinetic art that makes you ponder the existence of time, your place in the world, and makes you ponder how she engineers her artwork.
  • Yona Belfort, a product designer and founder of Vital Innovation, who asked us to think hard about the value of everyday items and shed interesting light on the differences between hoarders and minimalists.
  • John Coleman, the founder of The VIA Agency, who shared his vision for a more positive world...and steps as to how we can all get there.
  • Voot Yin, a geneticist at Mount Desert Island Biological Lab, whose talk on organ regeneration had attendees exclaiming aloud "how cool" and "imagine the implications." The video that accompanied his talk needs to be seen to be believed! (see below for Livestream link)
  • Rafael Grossmann, a medical doctor whose specific interests lie at the intersection of technology and healthcare.  He's was among the first Google Glass Explorers, and the first doctor to ever use Google Glass during live surgery.  Yes, Dr. Grossmann was wearing Glass during his talk, and yes, his talk was amazingly cool and had us all buzzing about the future of medicine. 
There were many more fantastic speakers, artists, and even aerial dancers!

But I want to focus on my very favorite talk of the day came from Mohammed Nur, a high school student (!), a Seeds of Peace ambassador (officially called Seeds) and a NAACP King Fellow. Mohammed's talk about being made to feel "different" and "foreign" in the state where he was born, how to generating change, and how to generate peace had everyone on their feet. Someone give this kid a national stage...and soon.

In between the talks were networking breaks and a delicious (vegetarian!) lunch, and with an attendee roster of community leaders, influencers and change-makers, the networking opportunities were fantastic! 

My contribution to the "I generate..." chalk wall

I left the event energized, exhausted, and inspired...and yes, with a new custom TEDxDirigo SeaBag in tow. 

My badge, and the very cool custom SeaBag created for TEDxDirigo 

I definitely hope to get an invite next year, and yes, my aspirations include speaking at TED as well as attending some of the other TED conferences around the country. Good stuff, brain expanding stuff, inspiring stuff!

Interested? All talks from TEDxDirigo: Generate were live streamed and the archived stream can be found here



Activate Innovation

Why a penguin? It will make sense in a minute

I have to confess, one of the sessions I am most looking forward to at TMRE is “Creating a culture for Successful Innovation” given by the Campbell Soup Company.


Because innovation is so very important to drive a business forward.

But far too often I observe companies requesting (or demanding!) their employees…and specifically their research teams…be innovative, without creating a culture in which innovation is part of the life breath of the organization.

It’s not enough to wish it and it will be so.  Consider some of the below steps to take towards becoming an innovative organization…and then join me for the Campbell Soup Company session at TMRE!

Hire Hungry
When adding to your team, seek out characteristics in potential new hires that lead the way to innovative thinking such as: a propensity for proactivity, openness to new ideas and feedback, and a past track record of measured risk-taking in their former role.  Hire staff that is hungry for new challenges and who are open to learning along the way. For more on characteristics to look for, this is an excellent article.

Reward Risk Taking (and Sometimes Failure)
One of my favorite moments every year at our company is when awards are announced, and my favorite award is the “First Penguin” award.  You may think that’s an odd name, but hear me out.

When a group of penguins approaches an ice shelf, one penguin must be the first to “take the plunge” – aka First Penguin.  There may be sea lions waiting in the water for that first penguin to take the dive, so it’s a risky move that can lead to great success…or great failure.

At our company, the reward goes to a staff member who takes a big risk and innovates with one of our products.  The risk may not lead to great success, but that staff member took the plunge off the ice shelf.

Shake Complacency
It’s easy to get too comfortable and complacent with your job…and if you do it’s likely your staff will follow suit. I spoke to this a bit earlier in my Outside your Comfort Zone blog post but I feel it bears repeating.

Shake off your complacency and that of your staff.  Network with other peers in the industry online or in person to see how others are approaching similar challenges.  Get out of the office for a group training day, exploring a type of research you don’t typically do…that will help to energize you and your team and shake the cobwebs out of your brains. 

For more on building an innovative culture, take a look at this recent article in Inc. Magazine – it’s a short read and a good one!



Outside Your Comfort Zone

I was watching a profile on Sal Khan (of Khan Academy) the other day and one of the interviewees said something that always resonates with me - the most impactful disruptors and innovators that change your industry often come from outside your industry.

Now, we can take this on a macro level and ask who and what "from outside" will be the big disruptor in the market research industry?

But we can also take this on a more micro level and note that disruptors for CPG research may come from B2B research, disruptors for quant research may come from qual research, and so on.

And the disruptor could be you!

As we've talked about on this blog leading up to TMRE this fall, one of the big benefits of attending events is that you get to mix and mingle with folks outside of your particular industry and that's a good thing! What better way to get some fresh thinking and learn new ideas?

Once folks get onsite at a conference, many tend to confer with their specific industry peers and share "war stories" - that's great but get out of your comfort zone! Don't just confer with someone who does, pretty much, exactly what you do - chat with folks who do something vastly'll likely learn something!

That goes for sessions too. Of course you want to attend sessions that have a direct bearing on your job, but pick at least one session that may be a little "out there" for what you do - you could pick up a nugget of insight that does have relevance to your job.

If you're looking for an interesting take on innovation and breakthrough ideas happening when you bring concepts from one field into another, check out The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation.

And for a pretty comprehensive list of excellent reads about innovation, check out this list (airplane reading for your TMRE trip?).