(First published, September 2005)
This is another jolt that can be conducted in about 99 seconds.
Place an index card and a pencil on each seat (to avoid wasting time distributing these items).
Ask everyone to draw a tree on the index card within 45 seconds. Explain that this tree could be a realistic one or an abstract one. The only critical requirement is that it should drawn within the 45-second time limit.
Pause while participants complete this task.
After 45 seconds (it doesn't matter if some of the artists are still working on their masterpieces), begin debriefing. Instead of conducting a time-consuming discussion, present the major learning point this way:
Look at your tree. How many of you included the roots when you drew the tree?
Very few of you did that!
So what is holding up the trees without the root system? How do these trees get water and nutrition?
You must agree that the root system is an important part of tree. Why did you not draw it? Was it because you usually don't see the roots?
How many other things do you habitually ignore just because they are not visible? Have you stopped thinking about critical elements that are out of sight? What problems are likely to arise from this type of selective thinking? How can we prevent this habit?