Suspending Assumptions exercises? LO13061
Sat, 29 Mar 1997 11:28:12 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO13045 --

An exercise for demonstrating assumptions in creative problem solving:

Outline with tape an 8 x 8 foot rectangular area on the floor. One side
can be against a wall.

Place four target containers (any size butter tub, plastic or glass bowls)
somewhere inside the rectangle. Mark them as 2x, 3x, 4x, and 10x. It may
be useful to place the lower value containers nearer the edges of the box.

The team's problem is to launch 10 ping pong balls from outside the marked
area and get as many as possible into the target containers. They have 2
minutes to complete this task. They will be given a 50 point penalty if
they cross the taped line or touch the floor inside the rectangle. They
may launch the balls in any way they want. Scoring is number of balls in
container times X number on container, e.g., 2 balls in container 10x = 20

Common outcomes and assumptions:

1. Teams spend no time discussing possible solutions but jump right into
action with dominant personalities leading.

2. Teams spend all the time discussing solutions with no action.

3. Teams attempt to throw balls into containers but will make no attempt
to move or rearrange containers (implicit assumption not in rules).

4. Teams will not recapture balls and try to throw them again.

5. Teams will not ask for additional information or clarify implicit

6. Teams will avoid taking penalty for crossing lines even though
relative cost can be justified by putting all the balls in the 10x
container or moving the 10x container next to the boundry line.

7. Teams will not move the taped boundaries or attempt to go under the

Options and insights :

Divide into teams and run simultaneous group sessions in the same room.
Give one team secret instructions to ignore the boundary lines. See what
effect this has on the other teams watching.

Divide into teams and run simultaneous sessions. Make clear to all
participants that the goal is to score the most points. See if groups
share successful strategies or attempt to score the most points for their
arbitrary group. Point out that this artificially created group existed
for only a few minutes and yet it has internal allegiences that prevent
sharing in a larger group.

Give teams a launching tube (paper tube) and make them roll each ping-pong
ball down the tube to "launch" it. This almost always results in rigid
observance of the boundary lines and allows only one or two individuals to
do all the work. See if the other individuals continue to contribute
ideas or just watch these two individuals launch all the balls.

Extend the problem solving time by adding a 1 or 2 minute planning session
up front.

Using the option without planning time, send one group out of the room so
they don't see the other group's solutions. Bring the group back and ask
them to spend 2 minutes discussing the problem before they begin.

The effects of groupthink are easily observable in the solutions to this

Lon Badgett

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