Thursday, December 15, 2011

What I do after lunch.

1:00 pm:  Qualtrics
We do a lot of surveys.  I was peripherally involved in the development of Version One (V1) of a survey.  I am taking the lead on V2.  I started off attempting to revise V1 and take input from others into consideration.  I wasn't getting anywhere.  So I said "To hell with all that" created something fresh, cleaner and faster.

I like making things look good.  Provided I don't get too carried away and lose substance I think my aesthetic sensibility will be helpful.

One of my goals is to create better ways to test ideas (I think that's the art of this job/field).  I've been thinking about something in between survey and field work such as an experiential online experience.  "Experiential"is a buzz word I kind of hate but it does capture what I mean.

We are testing an idea for a retirement savings product we believe to be a significant improvement over an existing product.  At present, we're looking at "mechanics" of our product.  Down the line we'll look at how we might position it to financial advisors and consumers.  I'm curious what product development looks like in this world.

Are we going to actually "sell" this product?  Of course not.  We're a lab, not a financial services company.   So what happens to the idea?  I don't think we sell it to a company.  I don't think we're allowed to do that (something about not for hire).   I'm still trying to figure out the fate and purpose of some of the work we do here.  I completely understand (as well as appreciate and embrace) that the "point" of a lot of the work in academia is the study of the topic.  I also get the feeling that the Applied part of this field in kind of like Old navy and Theoretical = Banana Republic.

I'm entrepreneurial and often think "How could we make money doing this?  I really don't want to merchandise everything and anything (someone else will do it anyway) but I enjoy contemplating the question.  Maybe there's a happy medium, like The Gap.

When I think about product development I do wonder "Who's side are we on?"  I know that's probably not the right question or way to characterize the consumer/business relationship.  To the extent there's an answer it's not binary.

I'm not jaded to the point where I think all corporations are in the business of screwing customers to make a buck.  Many businesses are consumer advocates (perhaps I'm really naive) but at the end of the day they are just that: a business.  What are we? 

2:00 pm:  Snack
Need snack.  Walk over to bowl on table in kitchen area.  I consistently forget the bowl is full of "Predictably Irrational" condoms.   Those are for a different appetite.  Find snack.

Also, by 2:00 I will have definitely mentioned my advertising career, Cross Fit or Lindy Hop.  Probably a few times.  I've got to curb that a bit.  It stems from a need for credibility but could probably get obnoxious.

2:05 pm: Tag-Along
Boss has me tag along to various meetings, events or listen in on calls so I can learn and get exposure.   

3:15 ESL/Kids
Almost every day around this time G's kids come into the lab and sneak up on him.  It hasn't gotten old for them and surprisingly it hasn't gotten old or annoying to me.  Also, I have no idea the content of the exchanges that follow the daily surprise.  They're in Hebrew.  As are many conversations in the lab.  Turkish is also spoken.  Every now and then someone apologizes for it (I think that stems from a concern that speaking in another language makes conversations exclusive) but I don't mind one bit.  In fact sometimes I'm glad I can't understand what is being said because I won't be distracted or become engaged.  That happens with English conversations plenty.

3:30 pm:  Stress out about IRB proposal
All experiments involving human subjects require approval.  I believe this to mostly be a good thing through from what I understand the getting approval process isn't always smooth.

I am in the midst of authoring one for an experiment that I'm not done designing.  In order to complete the design I need X to happen.  And X might not happen until January.  And it might not help as much as I think.

There are some things I know I need to learn but have no idea how I will do so.  As much as I boast about my aptitude, experience I get a little anxious how I will figure things out.

Maybe staring at the proposal will spawn some ideas?

It doesn't.

3:35pm:  Statistics and Sex 
Initially many of my projects were in the finance category.  A lot of work in behavioral economics is in the finance category.  When discussing my workload I did ask to work on something in a slightly different domain.  Wanted to mix things up a bit.

I inherit a project about sex.

I have dozens of  spreadsheets containing sex data.  I'm tasked with analysis.  And that's stats.  I wrote my thesis on statistical reasoning and was teaching assistant for a psych stats class.  But that was 12 years ago.

So, I'm going to brush up on statistics.  And learn about sex.  At the same time.

4:15 Get distracted by interesting conversations / Goof Off / Feel Old 
Open setting.  Smart people.  We're not always at our desks immersed in our work.

We talk about our own work, work in the field, current events, philosophical questions, grad schools, conferences and other topics I know so little about I can't tell you what they are.

But sometimes we're just straight up goofing off doing things like watching dumb videos on YouTube and playing on the balance board.

I am at the higher end of the age range at the lab.  Sometimes these conversations make me feel old, sometimes they make me feel wise.  Sometimes listening to a twenty something talk about life makes me think "How naive.  Just you wait" (I mostly keep these thoughts to myself).

Usually I'm just engaged and enjoying myself during these conversations - come to think of it this is how I feel all day.  

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