Here is a jolt that uses a mathematical magic trick to deliver an important learning point.

## Purpose

To illustrate the effectiveness of everyone following the same standard operating procedure.

## Participants

**Minimum: **1

**Maximum:** Any number

**Best: **10 to 100

## Time

2 minutes for the activity

2 minutes for debriefing

## Supplies

Paper

Pens or pencils

## Preparation

To help you get a feel for this activity, grab a pencil and piece of paper and follow these instructions.

1. Think of a three-digit number with no repeated digits.

Example: 386

2. Reverse the digits and write down the new number.

Example: 683 (the reversed version of 386)

3. Compare the original number with the reversed number. Subtract the smaller number from the larger one.

Example: 683 - 386 = 297

4. Reverse the digits in the answer you got from the previous subtraction.

Example: 792 (the reversed version of 297)

5. Add the previous answer from the subtraction and the reversed number.

Example: 297 + 792 = ?

If you followed the instructions correctly (and if you did not make any mistakes), your final answer will be 1,089. It does not matter what number you began with. This is the magical effect.

## Flow

**Make sure everyone has paper and pens. **If necessary, distribute the necessary supplies.

**Give instructions. **Demonstrate the steps by writing the numbers on a flip chart page:

Say: *Let’s begin with a randomly selected three-digit number. Think of a three-digit number without any of the digits being repeated.*

Do: Write the number 386 on the flip chart.

Say: *To make the number more random, reverse the digits and write down the new number.*

Do: Write 683 as the reversed version of the 386.

Say: *Compare the original number with the reversed number. Subtract the smaller number from the larger one.*

Do: Write 683. Write -386 below it. Do the subtraction and write the answer, 297.

Say: *Let us scramble the numbers one more time. Reverse the digits in the answer you got from the previous subtraction.*

Do: Write 792 (the reversed version of 297).

Say: *Last computation activity. Add the previous answer and the reversed number.*

Do: Write 297. Write +792 below it. But do not add the numbers.

Say: *We all started with different three-digit numbers. We messed around with our number, reversing it, subtracting it, reversing the numbers again, and adding the two numbers. Let’s see what different final answers we ended up with.*

**Conclude the session.**

Say: *At the count of three, shout out your final answer.*

Count 1, 2, 3 …

Unless somebody made a mistake, everyone will end up with the same total of 1,089.

## Debrief

Point out that people started with different numbers and ended up with the same result. Ask the participants what they learned from this activity. Gently steer the conversation toward the learning point.

## Learning Point

There can be a lot of individual differences among the way different employees begin doing their projects. But if they carefully follow a standard procedure, they will end up with the same final result.