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It's not as easy as it looks

The AQR has been jolly good for me, one way and another. So when its chair, Rosie Campbell, asked me to facilitate a Strategy Session with the Committee in December, although the very idea gave me butterflies, it seemed like a good thing to do.

And then it sunk in that, as experienced facilitators all (probably) and assertive characters (certainly), this session had the potential to be a tad more demanding than the average. No pressure, then.

The brief? As Rosie endearingly suggested, it was like the client who wants to explore everything about everything, especially strategy, all in the space of four groups (or half a day in our case).

The day came. Over coffee people, felt-tips in hand, wandered round the room noting on-the-wall their sensory impressions of the Association, as a freshener. Then we launched into a brand essence process for AQR.

Well, it's not my job to tell you exactly what they came up with, but they certainly stretched that old brand essence frame. It didn't so much bulge, in fact, as reproduce itself to become (1) AQR as it is now and (2) AQR as we want it to be, which is a pretty interesting move and concept.

The second session was almost a full house. This time, watchful eye on brief, I had planned to emerge from the meeting with a list of activities neatly arranged along a timeline, just to delegate-and-do. However, despite my best attempts (which included standing on a bench, shouting, oh dear), it didn't turn out that way.

With hindsight, perhaps it was necessarily so: if AQR is to take a new direction, achieving its aims also needs to be approached in novel and exciting ways. And that's what your prescient and highly motivated committee has started to conceptualise, making a series of thoughtful decisions about how to approach action.


Tina Berry
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, March 2010
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2010