Meena Kothandaraman

Meena Kothandaraman

Meena Kothandaraman

With 30 years of experience, Meena has consulted to emphasize the strategic value and positioning of qualitative research in the design of product, space and service. Meena is fascinated by the complexity of human behavior, and applies a credible, structured and transparent approach to integrating human stories and anecdotes into mainstream processes. This ensures that research activities provide the best service to the organization, and that learning objectives are addressed to maximize potential.

Meena is a founding member of twig+fish, a research and strategy practice based in Boston, MA, that espouses these research beliefs, while maintaining a utopic work-life balance. She is also a key Lecturer in the Bentley University Human Factors and Information Design (HFID) graduate program. Over her 20-year tenure, her capstone qualitative research course has guided now-leading practitioners to integrating meaningful and successful research practices.

She holds an M.S. in Information Resources Management from Syracuse University and a B.Com . in MIS from the University of Ottawa, Canada. Meena is always inspired in her work by her other passions, namely performing as a South-Indian Classical Violinist, pursuing culinary arts through a cooking show, and staying up to date with her two teenager interests!

For more, keep up with Meena on Twitter as @meena_ko.

Presentations

UX Camp Spring 2024

Challenging the Concept of “Human-Centered”: It’s Time for a Rethink

Since the beginning of experience design, we have been focused on being human-centered for nearly every product, service and interface created.

What does human-centered really mean, and do we know if we achieve that as a goal when designing an experience?

At an organizational-level, practitioners must first agree on an aligned definition of “human-centered”, as it relates to the product/service/offering being put out to the world. What contributes to an experience being considered as human-centered? How close to that definition must products be for them to be considered truly “human-centered”? Without a clear and shared definition of human-centeredness, it is impossible to measure how “well” we achieve it within an organization.   

Though this has long been a concept that is emphasized in theory – in practice, this moment of rethinking is imperative for multiple reasons. The design of experiences is at a tipping point. Can we afford to only be human-centered, and that too, with a poorly defined understanding of what constitutes the concept in the first place?

It is time to deconstruct what human-centered really means and consider the potential of being “human-calibrated” instead. In a world where we must be more responsible given truths about the environment and the climate, humans are only one part of the equation. 

Tent Talks Session: There is More to Research Than Asking A Question

On Wednesday, January 25th at 5:00pm CST, Meena Kothandaraman joins us for a live Q&A session: “There is More to Research Than Asking A Question.”

Leadership By Design 2021

The Cost of Not Conducting Qualitative Research in Organizations

When we fail to include the human story in the designs of our products and services, we fail humans. twig+fish has worked with global customers and we frequently hear the same challenges: no time, budget, or value to qualitative research output. Products suffer when they are not anchored in the human story, and the humans who create and use them struggle even more. Rather than talk about the ROI of conducting qualitative research, twig+fish began to study the cost of not doing it.

Meena Kothandaraman shares the results of this internal study that looks at the costs to organizations who have left their decision-making to sources other than the wisdom and insights gained from qualitative research.

Dear Design Leader – Explanations & Experiences with Leading Designers

​Leadership isn’t easy, and finding someone to ask questions to, or to give coaching and advice can sometimes be a challenge. Fear not, design leader,  Maria and Helen, along with Meena as guide and expert interjector, will address your burning question about design, leadership, design leadership, and likely a few other things.

UX Camp Winter 2021

Unpacking Context During a Pandemic: Reflections & Tips

Context has always been of importance to unpack and describe when understanding human realities. Context is anything and everything that brings meaning to human realities. Pre-COVID, qualitative researchers readily presented options for studies for both in-context and out-of-context approaches.

With the onset of the pandemic, in-context approaches posed challenges: increased study expense and safety risks to assess. The need to elicit context understanding remains—but without the ability to immerse in it—how do we as researchers understand it? An absence of context understanding can affect a researcher’s interpretation of the human story and reality. This in turn can affect the knowledge applied by a design team.

Meena Kothandaraman of twig+fish will share four observations from recent projects in which participants engaged in a way that revealed more contextual detail. Every project was run remotely—but each time the research team noted approaches that allowed the participant a chance to think of their context and articulate it with more specificity. These approaches are easily applied and will be still be applicable post-pandemic.

 

Available Videos

Tent Talks Featuring Meena Kothandaraman – There is More to Research Than Asking A Question

On Wednesday, January 25th, 2023 at 5:00pm Central, Meena Kothandaramn joined us for a live Q&A session called “There is More to Research than Asking a Question.” Session Transcript [00:00:38] Chicago Camps: How do you find user research as a…

Meena Kothandaraman – The Cost of Not Conducting Qualitative Research in Organizations

Leadership By Design 2021 The Cost of Not Conducting Qualitative Research in Organizations When we fail to include the human story in the designs of our products and services, we fail humans. twig+fish has worked with global customers and we…

Dear Design Leader – Explanations & Experiences with Leading Designers

    Leadership By Design 2021 Dear Design Leader – Explanations & Experiences with Leading Designers ​​Leadership isn’t easy, and finding someone to ask questions to, or to give coaching and advice can sometimes be a challenge. Fear not, design…

Meena Kothandaraman – Unpacking Context During a Pandemic: Reflections & Tips

UX Camp Winter 2021 Unpacking Context During a Pandemic: Reflections & Tips Context has always been of importance to unpack and describe when understanding human realities. Context is anything and everything that brings meaning to human realities. Pre-COVID, qualitative researchers…

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