The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Making work fun

Gem Alkis would never have labelled herself a creative, but after attending AQR's latest Spark session with Sarah Seymour she was forced to revise her opinion.

I’m no writer. I’m no artist. Therefore I never really considered myself a creative person. But I enjoy finding new ways of doing things (admin tasks, for example). I like taking ideas I’ve tried before and using them in alternative scenarios. Sometimes I even take a different journey home to get myself out of that auto-pilot trance I’ve been known to fall into. Turns out this means I am a creative person.

Thing is, I’ve never liked the label nor the pressure that comes with it. Usually my best ideas come to me when I’m not focusing on the situation in hand. But we don’t always have the gift of time to come up with new ideas — especially in the workplace. And when I feel under pressure to come up with something, I go blank.

Until a few weeks ago, I had assumed that all AQR courses were qual specific. So I jumped at the chance to attend the recent Spark session on creative thinking.

Experience has taught me that when you’re lucky enough to be in a job that calls on your natural skills, it doesn’t feel like work. What I wanted to get out of this training was a way to make creativity feel less scary than it sounds.

Enter, the founder of Happyworks, Sarah Seymour. Her business is dedicated to making work fun. Not by larking about, but by teaching tricks to help remove the stress and anxiety people can often feel when having to think creatively.

We began by splitting the group of twenty into two groups; those who felt they were creative and those who felt they weren’t. That in itself was quite interesting. Naturally people felt embarrassed to put themselves into either category. After Sarah’s intro to the session, I felt confident enough to put myself in the ‘I am creative’ side of the room.

Then by working in pairs we set about trying to tackle various tasks we face in the workplace, and our own lives, using Sarah’s numerous props and tools. It was while discussing the attributes of a pineapple-scented marker pen, that I thought of a way to simplify one of my weekly admin tasks at work. My partner found some interesting ways to overcome her report writing obstacles. We ended up offering each other advice and learned that the best creativity comes from sharing ideas.

A successful Monday evening’s work, overall. I would be interested to see how this training would work as a morning session. (Only because I came away from it wanting to tackle my to-do list right away!)

What’s the main thing I’ve taken away from the experience? Don’t be afraid to fail. If an idea you’ve had doesn’t work, you’ve simply learned how NOT to do something. Chalk it up to experience and try another way. (Don’t forget to save your failed idea. It might come in handy as a solution for something else.)

 

Gem Alkis
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2015