Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Topsight 2.0 > From analysis to design

At the end of the first edition of Topsight, I exhorted readers to use their new insights—generated from a field study, processed through analytical models—to design better solutions. But taking that next step, I said, went beyond the scope of the book.

That ending always bothered me for two reasons.

One was that, although I could point to other resources, readers would likely find it difficult to join their Topsight-generated insights with a given design approach.

The other was that I did know how to join these insights with a design approach—participatory design. I had written several articles on PD, one of which is my most broadly cited article, and I had already integrated PD methods into my field methods class. But when I was writing the first edition of Topsight, I hadn't worked out these connections, and I wanted the book to get out there.

In the intervening five years, however, I developed materials for better integrating the Topsight approach with PD. Among other things, I articulated the connection between Topsight-generated insights and design approaches and I emphasized the "fail faster" aspect of design work. The latter was influenced by my recent work with entrepreneurs, who (at the early stages, when their offering is still malleable) must continually reposition their offering to interest stakeholders—a process that encompasses design as well as argument, application, and financial model.

These insights were driven into Topsight 2.0. In this second edition, I add an entire new section—six chapters—discussing how to turn Topsight-generated insights into design decisions. The section covers PD techniques such as prototyping, organizational games, and future workshops, providing step-by-step directions and discussing when each might be brought into play. And, critically, it discusses how to feed the results of these techniques back into the design process so that readers can continue to develop insights and quickly iterate them.

To be honest, there is a ton of information on using prototyping, and much of it goes deeper than I can in Topsight 2.0. But you'll be hard-pressed to find much material on organizational games—an intriguing technique for understanding organizational relationships and routines, one that is a great match for the Topsight approach and that I discuss in detail here. Similarly, future workshops can help stakeholders to understand the deeper contradictions underlying their organizations so they can talk through these contradictions—but this technique also does not have a lot of published material.

Why this dearth of material? I think it's because design research has moved away from organizations and toward consumer software and products, an arena in which organizational games and future workshops don't make as much sense.

But for readers of Topsight 2.0, who want to design new solutions in the context of an organization, organizational games and future workshops are a great fit. If that sounds like you, please pick up a copy and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Topsight 2.0 > Now under Kindle Unlimited

I just announced that Topsight 2.0 is now available on Much more content, but the same price, so that I can get this book in the hands of people who need it.

For the same reason, I'm happy to announce that the Kindle version of Topsight 2.0 is now up, and it's listed under the Kindle Unlimited program. If you're signed up for Kindle Unlimited, you can download and read it for the low price of $0.00 (USD).

If you're not signed up for Kindle Unlimited, you can buy it for the same price as the original Topsight for Kindle — $7.99. That's lower than the $19.99 print price, and you can get it in your hands immediately!

I hope you try out Topsight 2.0 in either format. I'm excited about the book and its additions. Let me know what you think!

Topsight 2.0 > I have an announcement

Five years ago, I decided to try an experiment. What if I published a research methods book—a book that described how I conduct qualitative field methods for workplace studies? What if I made it as simple and accessible as possible? And what if I kept the price low so that people could access it easily?

The response was better than I hoped. Topsight has been used in graduate and undergraduate classes across North America. It has sold globally. It has been used in industry. Right now it's sitting on a perfect five-star rating on Amazon, with comments such as "Topsight is my favorite book. Hands down" and "THE book to buy for conducting research and writing a report." I'm thrilled that the book has been useful.

I'm also gratified that Topsight is being recommended by professors to their Ph.D. and MA students—and surprised that it is increasingly being cited in scholarly research (28 times as of today).


I've been using Topsight for those five years to teach the principles of workplace research to BA and MA students, as well as a reference for my Ph.D. students. And through those activities, I've noted some areas in which Topsight could be made even better.

For instance,

  • the early chapters discuss organizations, but not in as much detail as I would like.
  • the chapter on coding data is critical, but it isn't that easy to follow. 
  • the section on modeling provides several models, but doesn't give advice on how to build one's own customized data models.
  • the interim report isn't well aligned with the advice I give in the instructions.
  • the book ends by suggesting that students go on to engage in design—but doesn't talk about basic approaches to design, such as prototyping, organizational games, or future workshops.
Topsight is good, but it can be even better. 

I'm happy to announce that it now is. 

Topsight 2.0 has just been launched on It's reformatted, it's a lot longer, and it's addressed the points above as well as others. Better yet, it's the same list price—which makes my margins a little thinner, but keeps the book accessible to the people who need it.

As of right now, Topsight 2.0 is available in print; within the next two days, the Kindle version will also be available. It'll have the same content and the same features as the print version—and it'll also be the same price as the original Topsight for Kindle. 

Over the next few days, I'll be blogging more about the new features in Topsight 2.0. I hope you'll pick it up, and please don't hesitate to let me know what you think!