Discovery Operations Guide

Planning Part 2

Be Ready to Make Changes

Make a Plan, but Be flexible

In this section, start building out the details in each day of your research. Though the schedule will definitely change as peoples’ availability and desire to participate in the project changes, you should be approaching your first interviews.

Constant communication between the Project Lead, Recruiter, and Logistics Coordinator is required at this stage. Don’t let the seeming rush of changes throw you off; this is a normal part of trying to pull together many people with different schedules. As you build the schedule, allow for no more than two interviews per team per day. Thinking on your feet and engaging with people is exhausting; your teams will need recovery time between interviews, especially if traveling.

If you have been using a handwritten calendar, it’s recommended at this stage to move to a common, sharable calendar that is easily updated, such as on a white board in the office as well as a shared digital calendar. With changes being made each day, sometimes more frequently, and travel days approaching, everyone on the team needs to have immediate notifications on shifts in schedule and interview subjects.

Create an interview / conversation guide with a list of keywords or themes you want to cover with each participant. This does not need to be formal, but it should all researchers should use it so as to create continuity across the interviews.


Use this checklist to guide you as you move through last minute plans before research begins. Your ambition will probably be to fill every moment with research so you can move fast as a team. Resist that ambition.

If you push your team to exhaustion now, you won’t make it through the research phase with the rigor your participants and Leadership expect and deserve. If an potential interview needs a time that it is simply impossible for your team to accommodate, don’t tell them no or promise the impossible; ask for another time, or be willing to simply drop the interview and come back to it.

  • Plan a realistic schedule, based on time: 8 hours per day for everyone, including drive/travel time. Time for lunch and bathroom breaks between interviews are required; they are not optional.

  • Each day will need to end with a team synthesis. This time has to be included as part of your 8 hour day. This means, logically, that you’ll probably only be able to schedule 2 research tasks per team, per day. This might seem like too light of a load for your team, but it is realistic.

  • Constantly talk with your team’s Recruiter to have an idea of who the participants are and where you’ll meet them.

  • Purchase supplies: notebooks, pens, markers, sticky notes, audio recorders, cameras.

  • Print out Consent Forms.

  • Alongside your team, create an interview/ conversation guide. This should not be an explicit list of questions, as that will cut off the natural flow of a conversation. Instead, write down keywords and/or themes that reflect the points you and the team needs to cover in each interview.