Tuesday 11.15-13.15 (Passmore Edwards Room)

A lean and agile approach by any other name? Kecia Bertermann, Girl Effect; Caitlin Conners, 2CV; Lani Jacobs, 2CV
This session is for anyone who wants to be more user-focused in their work and research, and is looking for great examples of best-practice. Bringing together perspectives on iterative research from development, UK policy and commercial research, the session will focus on core principles to guide user-centred research and service delivery. We’ll also provide space for you to begin to focus on what lean and iterative might look like in your own organisation – even if you don’t go full-tilt ‘Lean and Agile’.

Interest continues to rise in applying principles of lean and agile research – and we are beginning to move successfully beyond theory into actual delivery of innovative user-centred services and communications.  Complementary approaches from other disciplines also taking a user-focused, iterative approach to service and communications development, have received less attention but also provide useful frameworks and inspiration for how we can make sure the work we do stays closer to the needs of the people we serve, and is directly informed by their feedback and behaviour. Test-and-learn approaches, iterative formative research loops, and ongoing user testing are also well-worn approaches in service design and commercial research.

This participatory session will help you think through ‘what really matters’ when you try to go agile, lean and user-focused. We’ll provide some case study examples of best-practice from a variety of fields – including innovative work from Girl Effect, examples from UK Government and third-sector service and communications design, and commercial research approaches. And we’ll walk through an informal, jargon-free  “how to” of the lean research model, from initial ideation to formative research to iterative testing. We’ll include thoughts about how to integrate methods (digital and offline; quant and qual; passive and active) in a lean way. Participants will also have the opportunity to engage in exercises that will help them convince others that iterative, user-focused methods make for better outcomes – and identify priorities for their own organisation’s work.

Session Leads:

Kecia Bertermann is Senior Evidence Manager of the Evidence team at Girl Effect. She oversees the monitoring, evaluation and learning of the Girl Effect Mobile platform and a portfolio of mobile innovation projects. She has worked in monitoring and evaluation in Africa and Asia since 2006, with a focus on participatory methodologies, GIS and digital approaches. 

Caitlin Connors is a Strategic Research Director at 2CV, leading the Global Social research unit. Caitlin’s a mixed-methods researcher with an 18-year focus on understanding the needs of vulnerable audiences – including the poor, women and families, and people living with physical and mental health issues. She’s a believer in focusing on the contexts, behaviours and attitudes of citizens and service users as a driver of decision making. Caitlin began her research career working in women’s leadership and foster care system research in Michigan, before embarking on a cross-sector career path in the human and behavioural sciences. During this period she designed social and cognitive neuroscience research at Yale University and the University of Michigan, conducted experimental research on treatments for schizophrenia and social anxiety at MCP Hahnemann hospital, and ran international research on the ethics of child psychiatry at the London School of Economics. Caitlin transitioned into market research in 2008, working first as a private consultant, and then in social research agencies. In her market research life Caitlin has led specialist social research teams and conducted branding, communications development and testing, and participatory policy research for a range of UK Government and third-sector clients – most recently, as Deputy Head of Qualitative and Communications at BMRB. Caitlin now brings her emphasis on iterative, formative research to the Development community with the team at 2CV – working for clients including Girl Effect, GSMA, Good Business and others. Caitlin can be reached at Caitlin.Connors[at]2cv.com.

Lani Jacobs is a Digital Anthropologist at 2CV, working across 2CV’s Global Social and Technology practices. She is fascinated by the intersection between people and technology and combines ethnography with behavioural science expertise to explore how digital is playing into people’s lives. She has conducted extensive ethnographic research, largely focused on understanding consumer relationships with mobile phones and the mobile internet. For example, previous work has included identifying mobile market opportunities among youth and evaluating M4D services in Africa; conducting research across markets to understand gendered usage and attitudes to mobile; assessing the role of local mobile internet content in encouraging greater levels of digital inclusion among low-income consumers; and developing a mobile internet skill toolkit aimed at increasing people’s mobile internet literacy. Prior to this, Lani worked as corporate brand strategist on positioning, brand architecture and customer experience projects for a number of international brands. Lani holds an MSc from University College London in Digital Anthropology and a BA in Social Anthropology from University of Manchester. Lani can be reached at Lani.Jacobs[at]2CV.com.


Lean Research in Action