Problems and success. Blogjune 17/24



(Someone in the lobby of the law school building at the University of Melbourne is playing beautiful piano music while I have an hour’s down time and un-peopling before going out to dinner with 40 or so people)

The lobby of a building. There is a woman under the stairs playing a piano and a 2 metre high map of Australia on one wall


An icebreaker.

For 40 researchers. All at the start of a new round of research infrastructure projects, some continuing projects and some brand new.

At a day where these project leads all meet and get to know about each others’ projects, learn what works and what doesn’t from each other. They think about their communications plan, Indigenous Data Governance and how they will demonstrate successful usage and uptake of what they build.

This was the first 25 minutes of the day and I wanted participants to talk to people outside of their projects. I wanted them to start thinking about how they would describe their projects in preparation for the comms workshop, think about what success looks like and possibly cross-fertilise to make new research projects.

  1. A Problem of 10 words

I started by expressing the problem I hope to solve in my work, in 10 words:

Focus areas need support so researchers learn to use infrastructure

Part of the first five minutes involved participants coming up with the problem their research infrastructure will solve. In 10 words. Written on the back of a paper napkin – signalling that this is very much first draft and speculative.

2. Title of a research article

Next, I instructed participants to imagine that three years have passed, and their research infrastructure project is a success. They were asked to write on a post it note the title of a research article someone could write using that infrastructure. That was the other part of their five minutes.

Then I divided participants into four groups (first – people born in June or before on one side of the room, those after to the other. Then- each of those two groups divided by people born before the 16th or after the 16th). I told them to find two people from other projects in their quartile.

In these groups of three, participants shared their 10 word problems. Then they were asked to come up with the title of one or more research articles using at least two pieces of successful infrastructure.

The rest of the day they worked surrounded by their potential successes on the walls.

What do you think? Let us know.