The vision for the ResearchOps Community

A few weeks ago, I wrote a Medium post about capping the ResearchOps Community Slack to 500 members. After making the announcement, the Community took part in a 👍👎 vote and shared thoughts. In the end, the vote was 44 for vs. 42 against with around 1/7 of the Community (many of its most active members) taking part. A rich conversation followed with comments often including phrases like, “I’m on the fence”. Along the way, quieter members expressed an interest in becoming more active, particularly if the space remained more personal; many active members said they felt more comfortable sharing in a smaller space; some members called for a big unlimited forum-type community.

The conversations helped me think more about the vision and goals for the Community and about the kind of community I would like to be a part of. TeamReOps and I spoke about their future role and the kind of community they’d like to be a part of too. We need to build something that’s sustainable (and fun!) for all of us to manage, and which supports organic growth well beyond the Slack. That last point is important.

So a decision has been made.

[UPDATE] And it was unmade… about 5 weeks later

It turns out that things aren’t so simple. Surprised?

Slack originally said that if a member doesn’t engage for 14 days, they become ‘inactive’. Activity need not be typing, it need only be logging in and/or scrolling. What Slack failed to add is that if you’ve been inactive and become active again (say, for instance, you went on holiday and didn’t log in gasp until you were back) it would take more than a bit of engaging to make you ‘active’ once more. Slack has an activity threshold. Complications!

I discovered this because, in the process of preparing a list of inactive members, I noticed that a few recently active members were on the list. This brought the validity of the entire list into question.

Slack have apologised for not being more clear in their communications and reiterated that Slack is built for effective team work, not for managing communities. There is something of a distinction there, I guess. So, fair enough. Moving on.

How are things going to work then? I hear you ask.

We’ll keep inviting new members into the Slack and it will keep growing. We’re still using the waitlist to manage new invites; I’ll do a bulk invite once a month. This cuts down on my admin time significantly.

We’ll start a monthly town hall soon, too. This will be open to people both within the Slack and outside of the Slack.

If you’re desperate to join a non-Slack online space that talks about ResearchOps, Ryan Hunt has built a traditional forum-style space called DUXR. He’s a good and organised soul.

As always, my interest and focus is on facilitating an intelligent, collaborative and global conversation about ResearchOps. The medium of conversation is besides the point. It’s about working on things together.

That said, keep scrolling down. The strikethrough text is for record keeping. The vision for the Community (expressed below the below) remain the same.

H̶e̶r̶e̶’̶s̶ ̶h̶o̶w̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶s̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶g̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶r̶o̶l̶l̶

W̶e̶’̶r̶e̶ ̶g̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶c̶a̶p̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶S̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶5̶0̶0̶ ̶p̶e̶o̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶ — ̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶l̶e̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶n̶o̶w̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶u̶n̶t̶i̶l̶ ̶w̶e̶ ̶l̶e̶a̶r̶n̶ ̶w̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶k̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶w̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶d̶o̶e̶s̶n̶’̶t̶,̶ ̶w̶h̶a̶t̶’̶s̶ ̶n̶e̶e̶d̶e̶d̶,̶ ̶w̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶w̶e̶’̶r̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶p̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶o̶f̶,̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶h̶o̶w̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶d̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶s̶ ̶b̶e̶t̶t̶e̶r̶.̶
̶W̶e̶’̶l̶l̶ ̶d̶o̶ ̶a̶ ̶c̶l̶e̶a̶r̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶‘̶i̶n̶a̶c̶t̶i̶v̶e̶’̶ ̶m̶e̶m̶b̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶(̶a̶s̶ ̶d̶e̶f̶i̶n̶e̶d̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶S̶l̶a̶c̶k̶)̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶3̶ ̶m̶o̶n̶t̶h̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶i̶n̶v̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶p̶e̶o̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶a̶i̶t̶l̶i̶s̶t̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶j̶o̶i̶n̶.̶ ̶T̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶i̶r̶s̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶o̶s̶e̶ ̶c̶l̶e̶a̶r̶s̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶d̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶i̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶n̶e̶x̶t̶ ̶w̶e̶e̶k̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶w̶o̶.̶ ̶T̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶a̶i̶t̶l̶i̶s̶t̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶c̶u̶r̶r̶e̶n̶t̶l̶y̶ ̶s̶i̶t̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶1̶0̶0̶+̶ ̶p̶e̶o̶p̶l̶e̶;̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶j̶o̶i̶n̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶f̶i̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶m̶.̶
̶I̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶r̶e̶g̶u̶l̶a̶r̶ ̶r̶e̶q̶u̶e̶s̶t̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶i̶n̶v̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶p̶e̶o̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶b̶e̶c̶a̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶’̶r̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶k̶n̶o̶w̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶s̶o̶n̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶s̶o̶n̶.̶ ̶N̶o̶ ̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶s̶ ̶s̶p̶e̶c̶i̶a̶l̶ ̶t̶r̶e̶a̶t̶m̶e̶n̶t̶,̶ ̶s̶o̶ ̶d̶o̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶a̶s̶k̶.̶ ̶J̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶p̶o̶p̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶n̶a̶m̶e̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶a̶i̶t̶l̶i̶s̶t̶.̶
̶H̶o̶w̶e̶v̶e̶r̶,̶ ̶p̶e̶o̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶w̶h̶o̶ ̶t̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶p̶a̶r̶t̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶C̶o̶m̶m̶u̶n̶i̶t̶y̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶d̶i̶r̶e̶c̶t̶l̶y̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶t̶r̶i̶b̶u̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶C̶o̶m̶m̶u̶n̶i̶t̶y̶ ̶ — ̶ ̶s̶a̶y̶ ̶o̶r̶g̶a̶n̶i̶s̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶ — ̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶a̶d̶d̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶h̶e̶a̶d̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶a̶i̶t̶l̶i̶s̶t̶.̶ ̶T̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶m̶a̶n̶a̶g̶e̶d̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶d̶ ̶h̶o̶c̶ ̶b̶a̶s̶i̶s̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶C̶o̶m̶m̶u̶n̶i̶t̶y̶ ̶a̶d̶m̶i̶n̶s̶.̶

̶W̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶‘̶i̶n̶a̶c̶t̶i̶v̶e̶’̶ ̶m̶e̶a̶n̶s̶̶

I̶’̶v̶e̶ ̶a̶s̶k̶e̶d̶ ̶S̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶w̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶‘̶i̶n̶a̶c̶t̶i̶v̶e̶’̶ ̶m̶e̶a̶n̶s̶,̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶’̶v̶e̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶f̶i̶r̶m̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶o̶l̶l̶o̶w̶i̶n̶g̶:̶

̶“̶W̶h̶e̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶m̶e̶m̶b̶e̶r̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶S̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶k̶s̶p̶a̶c̶e̶ ̶d̶o̶e̶s̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶l̶o̶g̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶f̶o̶r̶m̶ ̶a̶n̶y̶ ̶a̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶s̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶1̶4̶ ̶d̶a̶y̶s̶,̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶d̶e̶s̶i̶g̶n̶a̶t̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶“̶i̶n̶a̶c̶t̶i̶v̶e̶”̶.̶ ̶C̶h̶a̶n̶g̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶a̶d̶ ̶s̶t̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶S̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶(̶i̶.̶e̶.̶,̶ ̶s̶c̶r̶o̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶,̶ ̶s̶w̶i̶t̶c̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶c̶h̶a̶n̶n̶e̶l̶s̶,̶ ̶e̶t̶c̶.̶)̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶s̶i̶d̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶c̶t̶i̶v̶i̶t̶y̶.̶”̶̶

T̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶c̶l̶e̶a̶r̶,̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶m̶e̶a̶n̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶d̶o̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶n̶e̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶p̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶‘̶f̶a̶k̶e̶’̶ ̶m̶e̶s̶s̶a̶g̶e̶s̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶S̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶m̶u̶n̶i̶t̶y̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶v̶a̶l̶i̶d̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶a̶c̶t̶i̶v̶i̶t̶y̶,̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶ ̶m̶e̶m̶b̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶a̶s̶s̶u̶m̶e̶d̶.̶ ̶Y̶o̶u̶ ̶o̶n̶l̶y̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶l̶o̶g̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶s̶c̶r̶o̶l̶l̶ ̶ — ̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶w̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶n̶i̶c̶e̶ ̶i̶f̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶w̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶a̶u̶t̶h̶e̶n̶t̶i̶c̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶e̶n̶g̶a̶g̶i̶n̶g̶!̶ ̶ — ̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶r̶e̶m̶a̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶c̶t̶i̶v̶e̶.̶ ̶S̶o̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶n̶ ̶i̶f̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶,̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶i̶n̶s̶t̶a̶n̶c̶e̶,̶ ̶g̶o̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶h̶o̶l̶i̶d̶a̶y̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶3̶ ̶w̶e̶e̶k̶s̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶’̶r̶e̶ ̶g̶e̶n̶e̶r̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶a̶c̶t̶i̶v̶e̶,̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶o̶k̶a̶y̶ ̶w̶h̶e̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶c̶l̶e̶a̶r̶ ̶h̶a̶p̶p̶e̶n̶s̶.̶ ̶I̶t̶’̶s̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶ ̶s̶y̶s̶t̶e̶m̶,̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶m̶a̶n̶a̶g̶e̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶s̶u̶p̶p̶o̶r̶t̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶l̶o̶n̶g̶-̶t̶e̶r̶m̶ ̶v̶i̶s̶i̶o̶n̶.̶

The long-term vision for the Community

ResearchOps is wildly underestimated and misunderstood. This Community is here for a purpose — to validate the role of ResearchOps and define it as a collective, and we’re doing that in spades.

Soon, via the #WhatisResearchOps initiative, we’ll have a globally informed idea of what we think ResearchOps is. With that done, organisations can hire for the role more specifically (not just to cover recruitment and procurement), researchers will have leverage for getting the help they need, and those working as ResearchOps leads can be more clear about what their job involves and the resources they need to make it happen.

So what happens after the #WhatisResearchOps initiative? I’d like to see us working together to progress our biggest research operations problems: things like recruitment, knowledge management, career progression, how we work with designers, and data security.

We don’t need a massive generalist UX Slack to do that work, we need a focused community of people who are keen to be actively involved in shaping the practise of ResearchOps specifically. We have that community already and I hope by keeping it small(er) and focused, over time, we’ll only nurture that.

Busting the borders of the Slack and the Community

The ResearchOps Community might feel (to many) like the epicentre of the ResearchOps conversation and, for now, it is. But the #ResearchOps hashtag on Twitter is increasingly rich with content and people are starting to organise ResearchOps events around the world, independent of the Community. This is a wonderful thing. I hope that the conversation will continue to grow well beyond the borders of the Community, and the Slack specifically, so that in time the ResearchOps Community is just one of many valuable contributors to the conversation.

If we can support these initiatives, even in a small way, please let us know. We’ll help where we can (plus it’s just nice to connect).

A community specifically for and about ResearchOps

I’m starting to talk with more people in the industry who are not researchers (though they may have the experience) and have found themselves in Research Operations roles. These people are few and far between, but it’s not going to be that way for long. In the short time that this Community has been around, the number of ResearchOps hires has increased.

At the moment, it’s healthy that the Community is a gathering of user researchers figuring out what’s needed most to support them in doing their work. Who better to form the practise than the people who need it? But eventually the ResearchOps Slack Community should be a gathering of people leading research teams and people actually doing ResearchOps. That balance will take time and taking time is perfectly fine.

Ops this and ops that

I’ve had quite a few conversations with people from other ‘Ops’, like DesignOps and DevOps and there have been valid comments like, “Oh gawd, not another ops”. It would be wonderful to see the various Ops’ collaborating — it would be great to work out where we dovetail and duplicate so that we can all be more efficient, collectively. The ResearchOps Community is already working closely with the DesignOps Community and we hope to collaborate even more in the future. Watch this space.

What about an old-fashioned forum?

There’s been some talk (right from the get-go) about whether an old-fashioned forum wouldn’t be better for a community that was clearly becoming big, quickly. It seems pretty clear that it would. However, large forums take lots of management and some money, and most of the core members of this Community have decided that it’s not something they’re keen to do. I agree. It doesn’t support our purpose and there are already big generalist Slacks for user research.

Still, I am talking to a few people who may be interested in starting a big ResearchOps forum. Feel free to take that on too, if you like.

The waitlist

At the time of publishing, the waitlist is at around 100+ people. If you’re keen to contribute to the shaping of ResearchOps, add your name.