51 minutes | Mar 5, 2019

16. Marianne Berkovich of Glooko

In this episode of Dollars to Donuts, I speak with Marianne Berkovich, Head of User Research & Consumer Insights at Glooko. We talk about doing research through leadership changes, setting up opportunities for self-critique, and how to build empathy, especially in health technology, by experiencing some aspect of the condition and treatment yourself. It really bothers me when smart people go out and build things and spend a lot of time and energy to build things that are not for humans. And I’m like, erh, why didn’t they do that? For me it’s more about empowering people who have that energy and who have that entrepreneurial spirit to make the things that are right. Not just make stuff, but actually, make the right thing. It’s a set of skills that I think maybe everybody should have and maybe once everybody has those skills and can do it well, maybe the role of researcher doesn’t need to exist. Until then, I feel like it’s my duty to go out and spread the gospel, as it were, of this is how you talk to users. – Marianne Berkovich Show Links World IA Day San Francisco Marianne on LinkedIn Marianne on Twitter Glooko Google Adobe Blue Ridge Labs The Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University Lockheed Martin Bonnie John Honing your user research craft: Doing a critique through a “Don’t Leave Data on the Table” class (Medium) UX Interviewing: Personalized Coaching to Avoid Leaving Data on the Table (from From CHI EA ’17) Interviewing Workshop: Don’t Leave Data on the Table (from Mixed Methods podcast) Net Promoter Score Three Ways to Build Empathy when working in Health Tech (Medium) Rufus the Bear at the JDRF 9Round Fitness More human: designing a world where people come first Venture for America Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center Follow Dollars to Donuts on Twitter and help other listeners find the podcast by leaving a review on iTunes. Transcript Steve Portigal: Well, hi, and welcome to Dollars to Donuts, the podcast where I talk to people who lead user research in their organization. I was reading the New York Times today and I noticed something unusual, although I’m seeing this sort of thing more and more. After the byline, but before the article starts, is some italicized text in square brackets. It reads “What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.” This is copy that only belongs online, in the app or the website or an email newsletter. Presumably you would click on something. But I’m looking at the newspaper – I feel like I’m starring in one of those YouTube videos where a toddler is trying to swipe a magazine and can’t figure out why it’s not a touch screen. I see the New York Times making this kind of error in their print edition every few weeks, and it’s kind of appalling, because it suggests a lack of detail that I don’t expect from a high quality product like the Times. When you get an email that has the wrong name in the salutation, even though we’ve all done it ourselves, it brings your appreciation down a notch or two. They clearly aren’t taking the care that they used to, and that we would hope for. And it’s especially interesting because I remember when the opposite used to be true; when the experience we had online, with news especially, was a not-quite-there translation of a print experience. And now it’s flopped. The print edition readers are not the primary customers. The organization has identified a different key user and it’s not us. I can’t help but wonder about any of the users we learn about, are they in a less desirable category or perceived that way because of changes in internal processes or organizational structure? Do we care about their experience, or are we making them into what we call “edge cases” which is a fancy way of dismissing them. It’s hard to imagine the print reader of the New York Times as an edge case, but hey, that’s where we are. I want to remind you that I’m looking for ways to be able to keep making this podcast for you. Here’s how you can help. You can hire me! I plan and lead user research projects, I coach teams who are working to learn from their customers, and I run training workshops to teach people how to be better at research and analysis. I’ve got two books you can buy- the classic Interviewing Users and Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries, a book of stories from other researchers about the kinds of things that happen when they go out into the field. You rating review this podcast on iTunes, and you can review both books on Amazon. With your support, I can keep doing this podcast for you. Let’s get to my interview with Marianne Berkovich. We did this a little differently – as part of a live event. We closed out San Francisco’s local edition of “World Information Architecture Day” with our interview, live on stage, in front of an audience. Then when we got off stage, we sat down in a somewhat noisy room and talked a little more to cover some of the things we didn’t have time for. We’ve cleaned it up as best we can but the audio may be a little bit different from how things normally sound. It was really fun for the two of us to speak on stage, and I hope to have more opportunities to record episodes of the podcast in similar settings. Marianne is the Head of User Research + Customer Insights at Glooko. She’s worked as a consultant and for Google and Adobe. Thanks for agreeing to talk with me, Marianne. Why don’t we just start by having you introduce yourself. What do you do? Where do you work? Tell us about that. Marianne Berkovich: My name is Marianne Berkovich and I am Head of User Research & Consumer Insights at Glooko and we’re an online diabetes management platform. Steve: What is an online diabetes management platform? Marianne: That’s a great question. So, diabetes is a condition that’s a lot to do with numbers. You want to keep your blood sugar not too low, not too high. So, it’s really conducive and lends itself well to technology and checking your numbers. We have an app for the person with diabetes. They can track all sorts of things there that could affect their blood sugar and then they can also send that information to their clinician who can further see patterns of you’re high in the mornings and what are we going to do about that? So, it’s a platform that both the clinician can access and look at those things as well as for the patient themselves. Steve: Where in the history of this company and its product did you come in, to bring in user research? Marianne: So, I am the first user researcher. The company was founded in 2010. I’ve been there for about a year and a half and I am learning all sorts of things of what it’s like to be, first in a healthcare company, or a health tech company, and also being the first researcher. Steve: Okay, let’s see how easy this is. What are some of the things you’re learning about being the first researcher and working in a health tech company? Marianne: First of all, as a researcher, it just feels very weird to be answering the questions and not asking the questions. Maybe I answer questions in a way that makes it easier for the researcher to ask the next follow-up question. So, but you know what a great researcher Steve is, so this is showcasing his talent too, right! So I think some of the things that I’m learning is the role of advocacy. That even though there was a need for hey it’s time for a researcher, we need someone full-time – before they were hiring vendors or kind of doing it ad hoc. And so, it was time to have somebody who could be dedicated and who’s trained in this. But at the same time there’s a lot of – I don’t want to say – in some cases there was resistance, but I think in a lot of cases it’s more of just not knowing what good research looks like, or part of the reason my title is so long is that people had an impression that oh, user research is just usability studies. And so, I talked with my manager and we put in the “& Consumer Insights.” Head of User Research & Consumer Insights – so it’s like it’s everything. It’s going to be going out and doing field visits. It might be surveys. It might be a lot of different things. So, to kind of help with that advocacy. And I feel like I do spend – I mean, I think as researchers we always spend a lot of our time in advocacy mode, but I’m not surprised – or maybe surprised – it’s just taking a lot more of my effort to do that advocacy work of what research is and how can it be used. Steve: I just want to clarify. You’re advocating for user research? Marianne: Yeah. So, I think even though the company talks about being patient centered and user centered, that what does that really mean? I think one of the things that I’m finding out – so, there’s a lot of people who have been in the field for a long time and they’re like we understand diabetes. We’ve been in this for many, many years. And to have somebody come in – I don’t have any experience with diabetes; I don’t have diabetes myself – to come in with these, you know, different insights or different ways of doing things and people are like, we’ve been there, we know how to do this. And so, to advocate for, hey, we went out and talked to some people. We learned this thing that’s different and knew and it’s maybe against the conventional wisdom, how might we use this? And maybe some of that resistance of like, well we’ve always done it this way. Or conventional wisdom says this other thing. Steve: So, the other part that you were learning was working in healthcare tech. It’s a new industry for you. So, talk about maybe what that’s been like. Marianne: Yeah, so – and
Play Next