(First published, April 2004)
A jolt is a brief experiential activity that delivers a wake-up call to the participants. An effective jolt lasts for a few minutes but provides enough insights for a lengthy debrief.
Write these two words, one below the other, on a flip-chart sheet:
Ask the participants to work individually. Give these instructions:
Rearrange the letters in these two words—NEW and DEER—to spell one word. When you have done this, please stand up.
Pause for about a minute. Quickly check the responses of the participants who stand up and congratulate them. (The correct answer is “RENEWED”.)
Now write these two words, one below the other as before, on another flip-chart sheet.
Repeat the same instructions as before:
Rearrange the letters in these two words—NEW and DOOR—to spell one word. When you have done this, please stand up.
STOP! Before reading any farther, try to solve this puzzle.
It's very unlikely that anyone will be able to solve this puzzle.
Get the participants' attention and tell them,
Here's how I rearrange the letters in the two words to spell one word.
Write “ONE WORD” on the flip chart. Pause for a few seconds to let the solution sink in.
Debrief the participants to elicit this learning point:
Sometimes we are too smart for our own good. Instead of approaching a problem in a direct, straightforward fashion, we assume that the solution has to be complex and convoluted.