Workshops as inception

yo dawg, i heard you like dreamsI spent the first two days of this week on a course. The course was run in the style of a workshop – no lectures, no learning materials, no rigid structure. Just discussions and exercises that ebbed and flowed as questions arose.

This is quite liberating, particularly for a person such as myself who is primarily a quantitative researcher. But it also makes it quite difficult to evaluate how useful the workshop was.

On the one hand, I enjoyed it and I remember thinking at the time how some things could be useful.

But I didn’t take many notes and thinking back, I can’t spontaneously recall a lot of the things we covered.

But that’s because I’m sitting at my desk writing in my blog. I’m not in a situation that requires me to utilise the skills or techniques we discussed.

Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but if I were in a situation that required me to act in a way that was discussed, I’m pretty confident I would act in a manner approximating the things we discussed.

The discussed is lodged somewhere in my subconscious. The workshop moderators planted ideas in my head regarding how to act in certain situations. I may not be able to recall them now, but in future I may well act on the advice when the right context arises.

This information influences my intuitive behaviour. As it occurs on a deeper level, it makes it hard to evaluate. So how can I?

Perhaps I can’t. Though proponents of advertising research would claim to be able to.

I remain quite sceptical regarding advertising research – pre-testing more so than evaluation. It is not enough to test whether an idea is “taken”, since one may not know it is “taken” until the right circumstances or situation or position on the purchase journey/funnel/prism/metaphor of choice is reached.

People far brighter than me have given pre-testing a great deal more thought than I have, so I will leave the subject at that.

It also makes a sort of logical sense to leave thoughts on a blog post about the gestation of ideas half-formed.

Going back to my workshop, if I were asked to assess whether my attendance had been a valuable experience – not just in the things I’ve gained but balanced against the time spent away from work (which also paid for the course), I’m not sure I could give an accurate answer.

Is the power of positive thinking enough? Is the hope that germs of ideas have been planted in my subconscious enough? Time may tell, but I as a subjective viewer probably won’t be able to see it.


NB: You might need to click on the image to read the text in the first panel. Which may only make sense to viewers of Inception, Pimp My Ride and Know Your Meme.

The early bird gets the top job

According to research by Christopher Randler, “morning people” are more likely to possess the traits – such as being proactive and conscientious – that lead them to do well at business.

I’m not particularly convinced by the findings, but I read it with interest as I’ve been off work for the last couple of days trying (and, let’s be honest, failing) to make a dent in my final CIM assignment. And as such I’ve resorted to my natural sleep patterns. I go to bed between 2 and 3, and wake up around 10 in order to start work around 11 (and I haven’t even been watching baseball recently. That, with the majority of starts being around midnight in the UK, has influenced my bedtime on more than once occasion in the past).

So I’m very much an “evening person”.

Am I being unfairly punished by the standard work schedule?  I don’t necessarily think so. I may not relish the early (for me) starts, but I don’t miss them. It is about having a flexible schedule. People, at least in my office, tend to stay more than 7 or 8 hours. If I were in the office from 9.30-7.30 (which I often am), I can still get over 7 hours of “optimal” work around the circadian slumps.

Conversely, if I were a morning person I could change my office hours to 8-6 in order to maximise my alertness. I have had colleagues that have done this. It is not a coincidence that most of them have children.

Our lives are full of compromises and overlap – whether through children, social events or TV schedules – and so I’m guessing very few people maintain their optimal schedule.As long as the workplace has flexibility to accommodate different peaks and troughs, I don’t think I am at a disadvantage.

For one, my body clock works well with work I do with companies in the United States (though, admittedly, less well with Europe and Asia). And I’m not expecting a screening questionnaire on  early morning habits to become part of a job interview. Particularly when there are many other traits that are more likely to determine unconscious bias. Height, for one.

Though, saying that, the research could have some applications. For instance, charities could station their chuggers outside Starbucks at 6am, to take advantage of the more conscientious clientéle that will be frequenting the store at that hour.


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