Who's the Winner?

The Challenge

Go ahead, play this jolt.

Look at this list of letters:

A, C, E, E, I, I, N, R, T, T, V.

Imagine that each of these letters is printed on a separate tile. Rearrange the tile (letters) to make up as many words as possible.

Get a piece of paper and pencil. Set the timer on your cell phone for 1 minute. Start the timer and begin writing different words that use these letter.

Go ahead and really do it. Do it for a minute.


Count the number of different words in your list. The participant with the longest list wins. My list contains 27 words. Did you beat me? Congratulations.

How would you feel if I explained a different scoring system?

You score as many points for each word as the number of letters in it: In gets two points; tin gets three points; tint gets four points; inert gets five points; invert gets six points; veteran gets seven points; creative gets eight points; intricate gets nine points; recitative gets 10 points; and interactive gets 11 points.

How would you feel if I used this scoring system? Only words of six or more letters count. The person with the longest list of words beyond this minimum length wins.

How about this scoring system? The participant (or participants) with the longest word is the winner. If you came up with the word interactive, you win.

One more variation: You get one point for each unique word in your list. If one of your word is found in other any players’ list, you don’t get any points for it. In this case, you win if you are a Scrabble player and know exotic words such as iatric or venatic.

Learning Points

Here are the two points I am trying to make:

  1. It is not not enough if you have a tangible goal. It should be a measurable goal. You should identify the metric you are going to use – whether it is for a game or for your job.
  2. Your behavior changes when the scoring system changes.

Here are the other details of this jolt:


Display a set of letters and ask the participants to list of as many words as possible with these letters within 60 seconds. Specify and apply several alternative scoring systems to frustrate the participants


To emphasize the importance of specifying the metrics associated with a goal.


Minimum: 1

Maximum: Any number

Best: 5 to 15


3 minutes for the activity. 5 minutes for debriefing.


  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils


  • Flip chart to display the letters
  • Timer
  • Whistle


Analyze the first two sections of this article and figure out the steps and rules.

Bonus Challenge

Can you come up with other diabolical and sadistic scoring alternatives? Send your interesting ideas to thiagi@thiagi.com.