Meena Kothandaraman

Meena Kothandaraman

Meena Kothandaraman

Experience Strategist & Lecturer AT twig+fish & Bentley University


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 has openly shared her experience as a WOC as part of the curriculum she has constructed.

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 learn-to-cook program, and learning about the career pursuits of her two children!


Challenging Research Norms: Positioning Qualitative Research to Succeed


Focus on the number of products and services we have around us, that we touch, hear, see and interact with on a daily basis – why is it that so few leave us enamored? Or possibly leave us feeling unfulfilled, as creators and as customers? We miss the power of forging emotional connection with so much of what we produce. When we scrutinize this further, and even looking back in time, we always hear about the importance of design and development and ultimately marketing in any offering we put out to the world. Why is it that research, and specifically qualitative research, a vehicle to nurturing and collecting those kinds of human connections and stories is considered an “add-on”, or often left out of the process of what is created?

Organizations need to ensure that designs are anchored in human stories, but as we move from design to development, research is not considered core to the process. There are so many moments of success to consider and promote, that we often overlook. Should we be able to leverage these moments, everyone will feel that much closer to what is created, while also challenging and growing our design processes.

Meena will share insights from her vast experience as a qualitative researcher and open up discussions as to what researchers and non-researchers should be doing to position research activities for success. Come join a passionate discussion on research as a discipline and walk away with reflections and strategies on what you can implement in your organization.


A Framework to Position and Plan for Successful Qualitative Research Activity

October 5, 2022 (9:00-17:00 CET)


Review this list and see if this sounds familiar:

  • Your organization always has questions that need to be answered.

  • You know you will have to participate in some process that helps obtain answers, whether you are the person doing the researching, or the person consuming the output.

  • You find yourself looking back on the way you organize the inputs and outputs to your study, but often it feels haphazard.

  • You want to organize not only the questions that stakeholders have (or think they have), but also the expectations of what you can really cover at a given moment with participants in a study.

  • Not all questions are created equal, and rather than a variety of questions thrown into your study at the last moment, you want to organize everyone’s questions while also leveraging their knowledge to know what really needs answering, and in what order.

  • You never want to say ‘no’ to doing research in your organization, but you also want to introduce a transparent process that creates clarity for the effort it takes to craft a good study design, one that will serve and benefit everyone in the organization, regardless of their role.

  • You also need a way to address known constraints that will come up as part of discussion when gathering answers to questions: how much time will this take, how much will it cost and how can we fit this into our schedule now?

Whatever the approach, you know you must get answers that generate high-confidence, otherwise, the output will be rendered useless.

In this full-day workshop, Meena Kothandaraman from twig+fish research practice (Boston, USA) will share a framework that establishes the positioning, the power and practice of research study design alignment and roadmapping. This workshop will reveal a demonstrable approach to involving stakeholders to collect their questions, as well as the knowledge they hold. It will also clearly define a language and process that unpacks the details of research study design, so that everyone transparently sees what must come together for the ultimate output to be leveraged. Meena will approach this from the discussion of understanding the mindset for successful study design, as well as the practices which must take place for clarity and organization in approach.

The framework is a visual canvas that exposes details required to construct credible study designs.

The framework:

  • Organizes unknowns

  • Brings awareness to assumptions and confidence levels in existing information

  • Publicizes knowledge gaps

  • Reveals organizational research habits and patterns

  • Visualizes a research road map

  • Describes how to address study design constraints (time and budget