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UPA 2012: Becoming Better Leaders, Persuading through Games and Answering Tough Questions with Collaging Posted Jul 2, 2012, 2:18 pm CT

UPA 2012: Becoming Better Leaders, Persuading through Games and Answering Tough Questions with Collaging

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UPA 2012 was themed Leadership and our team returned with some new strategies for developing leaders and a few interesting methodologies. Of particular interest were the opening keynote which talked about how to become better leaders, the talk on gamification and how Farmville can provide design insights for behavior modification and a discussion on collaging as a new methodology.

The opening keynote, Ronald Riggio, Ph.D., gave a stellar talk about leadership theory. He has conducted leadership research for many years, and by following the transformational leadership model, laid out for attendees the guidelines for being a great leader. Great leaders follow four major beliefs:  1. They inspire their followers with the power of positive expectations, and inspire commitment to a shared mission.  2. They act as a positive role model, and really “walk the talk”.  3. Leaders connect and communicate with their followers to determine their feelings and needs.  4. They challenge their followers to encourage innovation and change. Dr. Riggio also discussed that great leaders follow the motto, “Leave the team better off than you found it”. The audience members were engaged throughout Dr. Riggio’s talk, and were excited to begin the rest of the conference, inspired to be better leaders.
Kath Straub spoke on gamification and how games like Farmville shape interaction and secure sustainable behavior change. She discussed the ways in which Zynga encourages game play and modifies behavior. The main strategies that Zynga employs are Begging, Bragging and Tiny Victories. She says that the Begging aspect allows people to beg their friends for items, and because their friends want to help, they will then give the items to them thus drawing a new friend into the game, and also helping the original beggar. Bragging allows users to publically brag about the smallest things. For example, if you harvested corn today, you can brag about it on your wall for your friends to see. Bragging is closely related to the next tactic, which is celebrating Tiny Victories. The smallest accomplishments are celebrated and encouraged. She said that this strategy could be used to encourage other positive behaviors, like submitting time cards.
Kyle Soucy presented on collaging and how it can help to answer the questions that researchers don’t want to ask. Collaging was described as a method of using photos or pictures to allow the participant to start a conversation on a topic that is otherwise difficult to discuss. She has used collaging to discuss sensitive topics including pain management and cancer treatments. Collaging is an empathizing tool that allows the participant to choose a picture from 150 – 200 random pictures and assign meaning to it. The researcher sets up the study like an interview, and asks the research question to be answered. It could be something like, “How would you like this new product to work?” The participant then sifts through the random photographs and picks out which ones speak to them, and then captions it. It is important that the pictures are truly random to keep researcher bias out of the study. After the exercise is complete, the researcher allows the participant to walk through each of the selected photos and explain the captions. During analysis, it is not important which pictures were chosen, but instead why the participant chose it. This tactic can help participants articulate things that are not easily uncovered or discussed in an interview.
Overall, UPA 2012 was a great success. Our team enjoyed the camaraderie of being with fellow UXers and improving our expertise in the field. We look forward to participating next year with the new UXPA! 


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