At my workplace I am planning a research effort studying some in-house software. I would like to use Gaver's Cultural Probe technique because the exploratory nature of the methodology appeals to my research needs, but I need to adapt it to a more corporate environment. I am having trouble finding studies that have made this adaptation so I'm asking if anybody knows of any such studies or has personal experience in a similar endeavor.

Edit: The cultural probe technique is a fairly open ended discovery technique that uses various artifacts to collect information about a target population; the technique is intended to increase the space of design possibilities. The artifacts used in the study vary widely but typically eschew formal surveys and questionnaires in favor of more personalized items like a photo-diary, or a city map where participants are asked to point out the places they like or are afraid of.

What I am looking for in this question is advice or previous studies that give specific recommendations as to how I can best adapt the technique to a business environment (where artifacts like a photo diary might not be feasible) without destroying the creativity of the methodology (i.e., by just handing out surveys).

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    You need to explain what Gaver's cultural probe means. Just providing a link is not going to help people as people might not have the time to read it or there might be a case of link rot where the site goes down and suddenly the link is useless – Mervin Feb 19 '13 at 18:29
  • @Mervin, thanks for the tip. I added an explanation and further clarified what I am looking for help with. – Joshua Barron Feb 19 '13 at 19:30
  • perfect,the question looks good now – Mervin Feb 19 '13 at 19:33
  • What is your research question? It seems to me that you have two questions: (1) Can cultural probes be used in a business environment? (2) Can I use cultural probe for my specific problem? – ashley Mar 5 '13 at 17:03

I'm doubtful that you'll be able to find studies that specifically deal with adapting cultural probes to business environments, as cultural probes should be generic enough to work equally well in any kind of environment.

There's nothing intrinsic to business processes that make a photo diary (or a regular diary, for that matter) not feasible, unless perhaps it's an environment with information sensitivity. But if that's the case, you're going to run into problems with any behavioral data collection, not just cultural probes.

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Here is a link that might be helpful and can be adapted for your needs. I do not know how big your organisation is but creative thinking will allow you do conduct a cultural probe. http://www.slideshare.net/gerrygaffney/cultural-probes-in-real-life

Existing data: 1) Go through your meeting minutes, is there evidence to support your questions 2) Progress reports from managers will also provide insights 3) Organisational reports to view the goals, achievements, proposals (just a thought??? and it might help) 4) sometimes intranets provide an area for staff to comment, suggest and respond - this may give you history if traced back

Creating data 1) select specific staff to interview before/ after and request they keep a diary (you will need specific questions they are to address) 2) create a blog or space in the intranet and invite staff to participate on a daily or weekly basis. It can be a survey based but the questions seek qualitative answers

A quick brainstorm, hope this helps....

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