What is a researcher? A personal manifesto

Thinking in terms of a business and design context, what is a researcher? There is no one path, no one exact job description, no one single approach or professional charter to follow. Among the many variables that can shape this are the individual’s background and training, personal philosophy and worldview, and years of experience. For…

User Experience Research at SpendWell – My First 3 Months

Three months ago, I started a new job as user experience researcher at SpendWell Health, a start-up here in Portland, OR. SpendWell is building an online marketplace where people can purchase routine health care services directly from providers with upfront prices. Individuals with access to SpendWell as a benefit of their insurance plan can search…

“Fixing Culture”: The Case of Olive Garden

Tasteless, hotdog-bun-like bread sticks. Bland pasta sauce. Operational inefficiency. Excessive corporate spending on private jets and a crappy new logo. These are just a few of the issues identified with the casual dining chain Olive Garden in a scathing September 2014 report entitled “Transforming Darden Restaurants.” The 294-page report was written by Starboard Value*, an…

Starting a job in Corporatelandia? Work it like the anthropologist you are

These days, lots of anthropologists (including recent anthropology grads) are finding work in the private sector, oftentimes as researchers, analysts, or strategists at big corporations. My first job out of grad school was at an insurance and financial services company where I worked as a consumer researcher, business consultant, and project manager. Although I had…