A Slack for ResearchOps: why and what next?

This week, I had a spontaneous idea: to start a ResearchOps Slack.

I started the Slack because I wanted a community where we can all share and formalise the knowledge we’re developing around helping user research teams operate maximally and efficiently at scale (AKA ResearchOps), a need that’s growing as big in-house user research teams become more commonplace. The ResearchOps Slack has been up and running just a few days and we’ve already got 180 members. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one feeling the need for community.

DevOps has been around since 2009. DesignOps has had a growing voice since around 2017, as far as I can tell. And ResearchOps is just starting to poke its tender shoots through the undergrowth, most notably with voices like Louis Rosenfeld, Dave Malouf and Tomer Sharon. Less publically, I’ve had enriching conversations with Andrew Maier from 18F, and Matt Gallivan at AirBnB too. Leisa Reichelt, it must be said, has been thinking about ResearchOps for years. In 2013, she hired me to work on just that for GDS, work that put me on a new career path.

Back to the Slack group: It’s great to now be able to connect and communicate with ‘Ops’y’ people from across the globe, though I think we’d miss a trick if we didn’t put our heads together and get down some structure – something fluid/changeable, even – around what we think ResearchOps entails, stands for, wants, and how we can develop a practice that has at its heart the aim to help user research teams be the best they can be.

Now that this is all kicking off, and for my own sense of understanding, I’ve realised that I need to do a load of reading, leaning and learning from DevOps and DesignOps to better understand what it means to grow a community and a discipline. And, vitally, connect with other people who have experience and an interest in operationalising (such an unpretty word) research teams. I’ve been bonding with Andrew over this stuff – we’ll write more about our thoughts soon – and we’ll reach out to other advocates too. If you’ve got Ops trophies and scars, it would be great to hear from you too.

If you’re here because you’d like an invite, we’re holding fire for now. Please read this Medium post to learn more about why (3-minute read). The Community are currently voting on whether to take this approach or not. We’ll have a decision by Friday, 8 June 2018.

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