It's week 4 of the Fifth Space. 29 staff from 3 agencies have formed 7 project teams, where they will spend the next five months making, testing, and iterating solutions to some tough challenges in the disability sector. Challenges like too much boredom in group homes; the lack of intimacy & touch; and complacency fatigue and burnout amongst staff.
But, before we jump into solutions, we're teaching teams to take a step back and understand who is feeling the pain and what the barriers and enablers are to good outcomes. That's where ethnography comes in. We need a new source of intelligence to help us make sense of these challenges in the contexts in which they are experienced, and to see & touch possible points of intervention. Until we have a rich picture of people's whole lives, we don't know where to intervene, why, or how.
But, getting a rich picture of people's whole lives can be confronting, vulnerable, scary. It requires us to spend time with people without the safety of assessment frameworks, pre-fabricated interview questions, or surveys. It requires us to look in-between the lines and embrace the grey zone. That's why on Tuesday, we're asking the 29 Fifth Space fellows to do ethnography on each other. To get a feel for observing and being observed. With equal parts improvisation and intentionality.
To help Fellows be intentional, and have a basis for improvising, we prepared a short tutorial. On making a prompt book. A prompt book isn't an interview schedule or a rigid plan. But it does contain phrases, images, and ideas for what to look and ask for when out in the field. Prompt books help us to bring together the social science literature with visual, design methods. They can help us to try out multiple theoretical vantage points so that we aren't inadvertently stuck looking at people through the same-old pair of glasses.
Have a look. And leave your comments. We're still learning how to make these tutorials useful.