Method
Practice Check

A practice check is a snapshot of how initiatives are interpreted and put into practice by the recipients. It provides an immediate insight into a group of citizens or stakeholders’ everyday life before a new initiative is organized. There are many ways to ensure that you are in sync with the end users. It can be a phone conversation, a focus group or visiting the practitioners. One of the methods we use is participant observation, which is a quick way to get a nuanced practice check, and which can provide knowledge, that subsequently can save you a lot of research by making the following work far more concrete and realistic.

1

Make an appointment with a relevant person from your target audience in a certain time slot or during a particular public service. Tell the user how and why you want to observe a given situation, for example when the user meets his case worker.

2

Preparation - make sure you understand the context. Is there anything special you should be aware of?

3

When you get there - explain again why you are there and what the purpose of this practice check is.

4

Follow your user and ask about actions to get elaborated answers on why the users do what they do - and observe the atmosphere and surroundings.

5

Write down what specifically happens, "Martin stands at the kitchen table and opens a letter from the unemployment insurance fund with a notice to meet with them." Be very specific with indications of actions, places and times. Note the atmosphere that characterizes the actions: "There appears to be a positive atmosphere in the reception". Describe what comes to mind - "There are many binders, people greet each other."

Write down what immediate thoughts you have on the actions. "The caseworker seems friendly, but a little supercilious".