Hi Google, I’m Tarryn
I’m a UX researcher with a passion for bringing teams together to make helpful products that delight users.
When I think about my favorite collaborative documents that I use, I think Google Docs. When I think about the search I use, I think google. When I think about the best design Library for Android, I think Material Design, but the thing that excited me the most is Google’s culture.
I know you have a department that even focuses on organizational psychology – which is a current interest that I have. I started my career at smaller companies where I was able to wear many hats, but now I’m deeply curious in understanding teams within large companies.
Finally, I want to mention that I appreciate the 20% projects. I know how much innovation comes out of working in a different way. I’m inspired by the fact that Google has chosen to make this part of the work culture. I would welcome the chance to work with a variety of people at Google on unexplored topics that “focus on the user,” because I agree…”all else will follow.”
I’ve been looking for a company I could plant roots. After talking with many Googlers, I believe you’re it.
When I read that you see the UX Researchers as the role that “helps everyone focus on the user,” I thought “Finally.” This has been my rallying call over the last 8 years! I’m always looking for win-win-win solutions between users, business, and technology.
I believe my past experience makes me an ideal match for this position. The key strengths I bring to the position are, but not limited to:
- Qualitative research expertise paired with a natural ability to understand users’ motivations.
- Strong collaboration skills used for ideation, planning, and strategy execution.
- Courageous advocacy for those not in the room.
- Facilitation skills used to drive consensus across cross-functional teams.
- Creative problem solving skills with the ability to map out multiple solutions.
– Peter Drucker
Through a combination of natural instinct, experiences, and training throughout my life, I have become a strong communicator. Friends have referred to me as “a therapist” and I often get a surprised “you are a great listener” when I’m talking to someone about their concerns one on one.
This type of training started back in high school when I was accepted to the Peer Assistance & Leadership (PAL) program. I was taught conflict resolution, decision making and other leadership skills.
Once I got to college, I continued down this path by becoming a community advisor (CA) and eventually being promoted to one of the 4 Senior CAs on campus. I helped lead the yearly training and mentored other CAs throughout the year.
For the past 15 years my reading list has consistent mostly of non-fiction books centered around psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, behavior change and relationship building.
A few years ago I decided to become a matchmaker part-time because I thought it sounded fun. I was able to help people reflect on where they were being blocked by fear and how they could become open to a new relationship.
Teaching UX and running workshops with clients have a lot of similarities. Often there are competing viewpoints and a bit of a struggle to feel heard at times. This can come through different communication styles or seeing “the problem” as other people, instead of seeing oneself on a team faced by an external problem.
In all of these instances, my duty is to make each individual feel safe by suspending any judgements and actively listening and reflecting what I understand back to the person. I don’t see myself a fixer in these situations, because most people can come up with solutions when they’ve identified the problem. I see myself as a facilitator, either mirroring parts of someone back to themselves or surfacing the core problem a group is facing or highlighting the common ground to diffuse tension.
This trust building takes time, but it’s well worth it. This solid foundation can create the bed for innovation within a company. People will bring their ideas forward and take risks when they feel safe, so I strive to create a space that people feel comfortable in.
I’m someone who is more concerned with identifying a problem first, before brainstorming a solution. That way we know we are tackling the right issue and using our time wisely.
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My current favorite podcast
When I heard Indi Young on the Design Thinking 101 podcast, I felt like she was speaking to my soul. She talks about a bigger picture approach to research. One that is focused on the problem space instead of testing a solution. Research that is more thorough and dives deeper into people’s experiences. A type of broader research that is more ever green, because it can be used for multiple projects within a space. I would love to help bring this problem space exploration to Slalom if it’s not already part of the process.
Indi talks about the bias we bring to our products and how important it is to get past this to find the “inner thinking” of the people we are serving. She refers to popping the bubble of Dave Gray’s “Liminal Thinking.” If you haven’t seen his whiteboard description of this, I’d give it a listen too.
My Ideal Process
Every organization runs differently, and that’s ok. I’m not sure how Slalom runs yet, but this is my ideal process that I think would be the most effective way to build a product.
First, I’d help all the stakeholders in the organization come together to decide what to focus on. I do this by first interviewing people independently to get unbiased answers, and then bringing them together to work as a team using the user’s journey as a backdrop for the discussion. In my experience, there is not one right answer for what should be the top priority, there are many good answers to pick from. The most important part is consensus.
From that basic road map of epics (which is not set in stone, because things change over time), I start with research and eventually visualize an end result incorporating user motivations. In my ideal world, I would hand off my research and whiteboards to a visual designer who understood how their choices affected the UX. Developers would be involved in my white boards from the beginning which would save money and time later by no having to redo work.
Note: Even though I’d like to focus my career on strategy, research, and leadership, my skills encompass anything from the start point up until hi-fi mock ups. The most important thing for me is to work with an organization that I align with and can grow in.
Research – My favorite type
What about exploratory research?
If the only research you are doing is usability testing, you might be wasting time and money. For example, you could build a salt shaker that is wifi enabled, but is that the best use of time? Probably not. This might seem obvious to you from an outsider’s perspective, but it wasn’t to SMALT.
Running an organization is about prioritizing, because we don’t have unlimited resources. Research helps us prioritize and exploratory research helps us pick the right problem from the start to solve.
When you hire someone to work on your product, you are hiring more than a skill set. You are hiring a person. Along with that person, you are hiring a philosophy.
When you hire me, you hire someone who wants to deeply listen to find the pain points. It’s in my core. I want to highlight them, help you prioritize them, then fix them.
I’m a long-term problem solver. I’m a vision clarifier. I want to make your organization more efficient and support a cause we can all believe in – making people’s lives better.
I want to create a fluid customer journey from the very first interaction to the last moment, because I passionately believe in businesses who care about the people they serve.
I want to be the catalyst that up-levels your team.