The Harvard Business Review Blog Network yesterday posted an article by Vijay Govindarajan and Srikanth Srinivas: To Innovate, Find What's Hiding in Plain Sight. In it they refer to an exercise I sometimes like to do at the beginning of a new module when I jokingly ask "How Clever Are You?". The exercise is as follows:
How many squares can you see in the following diagram?
We have a bit of fun with this as I start out by saying "I like to know how clever my class is before we start - see if you can answer this simple puzzle" (it's great as an ice-breaker). Students call out answers like "17", "25", "28" and so on, it is almost never answered correctly. The idea behind this exercise/puzzle is to get people thinking and that sometimes what looks like an obvious answer is not correct - you have to think a little bit more and analyse in more detail before deciding on a solution. As Govindarajan and Srinivas say "Innovative solutions are always there for the problems we face, but you won't find them unless you look for them".