Uncategorized, Working solo

Roll the dice

By Debbie Maxwell


recipe17-01All too often we become habituated to our environments and practices. Noticing, embracing, and introducing ambiguity into everyday working life can enable fresh observations, receptivity to new ideas, and ultimately, serendipity.


  • Willingness to try new ideas
  • Time to observe
  • Cardboard and scissors
  • Group of fellow researchers (optional)


  1. Identify your key current research tools and practices. These might be your laptop, favourite software package (e.g. iA Writer), your office space, a favourite cafe.
  2. Identify six of your research and working patterns and likes/dislikes: for example, working on the train, keeping a clear desk, where you go for lunch, whether you communicate with co-located colleagues face-to-face or by email.
  3. Create a patterns dice. Make a blank cardboard cube (if you have forgotten how, see http://www.mathsisfun.com/cube.html). Write one of your research patterns from the previous step on each face. If you have lots of patterns, make more than one dice.
  4. Introduce chaos by rolling the dice once a day to single out an existing pattern of behaviour. Critically reflect on how you could alter this behaviour today. For example, instead of working on the train journey, use it to observe how other passengers interact, or listen to a documentary podcast. Alternatively, go somewhere different for lunch and make a point of talking to someone new there.
  5. Capture your new working practice and generate a ‘pool of reflections’ for future use, using the keywords below.
  • Serendipity
  • Delight
  • Open-mindedness
  • Flow
  • Culture
  • Digital spaces
  • Designing for reflection
  • Ambiguity

Rate each activity and its relative success in allowing you to think and make connections in new ways against the keywords: what degree of serendipity, delight, open-mindedness etc did this new practice engender?

After a week or so, use your notes from step 5 to decide on which changes to your working habits you might like to keep.

BITE: Recipes for Remarkable Research is available in paperback, hardback and as Open Access from:

Sense Publishers: Paperback | Hardcover | Free Open Access
Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover
Barnes & Noble: Paperback | Hardcover

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