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Seeing Our Work Through Other Eyes – PIUG 2017 Downloads


Cathy Chiba

Hello! And Welcome.

Looking for the bonus materials from my presentation at PIUG 2017? You’re in the right place.

Here you’ll find some sample questions for conversations, a sample Conversation Quick Reference Sheet, and (soon!) some highlights from my own conversations with engineers.

The slide deck from my PIUG2017 presentation will be uploaded to the  PIUG wiki in the Member’s Only area. Post-conference access to the slides is a benefit of membership in PIUG, so my apologies for not providing it here. If you’re not a member and you’re interested in patents and intellectual property, consider joining the organization – it’s a great group and membership is relatively inexpensive.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sample Questions

Here is a list of some sample questions that I have tried during my conversations and interviews.

There is nothing magical about these particular questions. You may find that questions work better than others. It really depends upon the context and the people.

You’ll only get better at choosing your questions with practice, which is why I suggest that you start by interviewing the people you already know and like, even if they are not your core interview subjects.

As I mentioned during my presentation, the key is to use questions that are

  • open-ended
  • invite free-flowing, unstructured responses
  • invite imagination, visualization, storytelling, emotion

It’s important to probe for emotional responses like joy, satisfaction, irritation, or frustration. You don’t have to do so explicitly, however. If you are probing for negative emotions, you may do better with explicit questions about negative emotions later in the conversation, as your conversation partner may feel uncomfortable if you ask such questions before you have built trust and rapport. Often, you will hear clues to your conversation partner’s emotions and attitudes in the other things they say,  although you should always be sure to check your assumptions and conclusions by confirming your perceptions with your conversation partner. (For example: “I am getting the impression that you are frustrated with X…is that correct?”)

Sample Questions (toggle to view)
  • Have patents and intellectual property ever been a part of your work life?
  • Why did you choose to be an engineer? What do you love about your work?
  • What frustrates you?
  • In an ideal world, what do you think would make your problems with [_______] go away?
  • Imagine a patent attorney (patent examiner/patent researcher). What do they look like? What are they wearing? How do they talk? What do they care about?
  • What are 3 words you would use to describe __________?
  • What would you like less of? More of?
  • How could someone help you do this?

Download Your Conversation Quick Reference Sheet

A Conversation Quick Reference Sheet can be a useful tool to help you stay open and focussed during your conversations. I’ve designed it to help remind you of your strengths and successes, your goals for the conversation, and any knowledge, assumptions, or questions you may have about your conversation partner.

Highlights from My Own Conversations with Engineers About Patents

In this section, I will be posting some highlights of my own conversation project. I’ve conducted a handful of them to date, and I have found the process enlightening and enjoyable. If you decide to do this for yourself as well, I’d love to hear what you have found!

Please check back here in a few days…more to come!