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Foster the People: Building Empathy with Stakeholder Interviews

F12fcdca848832071a8e97610e4ef9b6?s=47 Andrew Maier
April 15, 2016

Foster the People: Building Empathy with Stakeholder Interviews

Stakeholder and user interviews are "a wide-spanning set of semi-structured interviews with anyone who has an interest in a project’s success, including users." This talk explains how to plan for and conduct stakeholder interviews and socialize what we learn across our team.


Andrew Maier

April 15, 2016


  1. Foster the People: Building Empathy with Stakeholder Interviews

  2. What are stakeholder interviews?

  3. Oh, if only I had been involved, I would have:

    • explained that to you sooner • told you that idea would never work / made everything right in the universe.” 3 “
  4. When are stakeholder interviews?

  5. Presentation outline Stakeholder Interviews in a nutshell 1 Document your

    assumptions 2 Consider context 3 Draft your questions 4 Run the interviews 5 Synthesize the results
  6. 1 6 Document assumptions

  7. What do you need to learn? • Clients often provide

    the “What.” • Assumptions: Who? How? Why? • Recruit based on people who can exhibit these behaviors. 7
  8. 2 8 Consider context

  9. Find human-scale problems • You’ll learn about the problem space

    as you go. • Prepare by asking “what helps users get things done right now?” Look to books, websites, forms, etc. • Consider diary studies. 9
  10. 3 10 Draft your questions

  11. Draft your questions (1/2) • Not a script. Useful for

    focusing your team. • Focus on tasks: reference your “how” assumptions to create a few, broad categories. • Ask “how" and “why" (multiple times). • Ask “stupid” questions. 11
  12. Draft your questions (2/2) • Don’t ask about future behavior.

    • Don’t ask closed, yes/no questions. • Edit afterward for clarity and flow. 12
  13. Solicit critiques • Share with your teammates — again, for

    scope! • Share outside of your team: writing lab or #research. • Potentially “test” with 1-2 stakeholders. 13
  14. 4 Run the interviews 14

  15. The day before… (1/2) • Double-check logistics, dress code •

    Print — or share — your questions • Print an informed consent form 15
  16. The day before… (2/2) • Setup audio, video, photo recording

    • A notepad and a pen • Invite your teammates 16
  17. In the same way that interviews are not the same

    as everyday conversations, the time we spend with research participants is separate from the time we spend doing our “regular jobby stuff.” Transition rituals help interviewers switch contexts, providing a more objective interview. 17 “ STEVE PORTIGAL
  18. Conduct the interview • Thank people • Explain the purpose

    of your research. • Turn on your recording device and ask permission to record. • Document all the things. 18
  19. Conduct the interview • Give positive affirmations; lean forward. •

    Take simple notes. • Respond with open-ended questions. Leverage awkward silence. • Finish up with two questions and thank people! 19
  20. After each interview • Debrief! Discuss key findings your teammates.

    • Highlight and share notable quotes. • Reference/update your questions. 20
  21. 5 Synthesize 21

  22. Socialize what you’ve learned • Revisit assumptions: What, Who, How,

    Why • Consider a design studio or journey mapping • Transcribe audio recordings • Draft a research plan • Hold an actual kickoff meeting! 22
  23. Transcribe the audio • Gives you a “primary” document •

    Provokes further insights when shared back with respondents • Share with your team (in Slack and elsewhere) • Helps you create more realistic personae 23
  24. Thanks!

  25. None