Way back when, I was sent on a Management course. Most of what we were told has long since been pushed out of my head by other stuff. But one of the activities has stuck with me: the Lego House competition.
For this activity, each group was split into workers and management. We managers were given a shoe-box containing a Lego house and our task was to get the workers to build the same house. There was a sheet of rules, the principal one being, I seem to remember, that only the workers were allowed to touch the bricks.
So we peered into shoe boxes, and then said things like “put a red brick with six dots at right angles with the yellow one that’s next to the green one with eight dots. No, the other way, you idiot.” At the end of the exercise, none of the results were particularly impressive.
Afterwards, the trainers asked us why the managers, hadn’t actually shown the Lego house to the workers. And why the workers, asked to see it. It would have made the task a whole lot easier if they’d known what they were aiming for.
“We didn’t know we could,” everyone complained.
“No-one said you couldn’t.” was the answer. And that was true. We’d just assumed we couldn’t. As, apparently, does almost everyone when tackling this activity.
The point of the exercise was to show how people frequently make things much more difficult for themselves by constructing needless barriers or by making spurious assumptions about what is required.
Time and again since, I’ve been reminded of this activity. Even when you’re on your guard, it is scarily easy to cage oneself in with invisible walls or to set up pointless hurdles to – well, hurdle over.
I keep catching myself doing this very thing as I adjust to my new semi-retired state. Looking at my diaries and to-do lists, it’s clear that, deep down, I’m still preparing for an inspection. It would be no surprise if OfDec appeared tomorrow to check that I’m wallpapering away from the light, and have matched the pattern, even on the bit behind the radiator. I’m fairly confident with my decorating results, though if OfDaff come and want to know why the bulbs I bought in October are still in the greenhouse – well, then frankly I’m stuffed.
As I write this, I am very aware for the last twenty five years this weekend – the one at the end of the Christmas holidays – has generally been spent in a blind panic about planning unplanned and classrooms un-deChristmased. While I’m playing at getting organising for the week ahead, many of my mates are, this afternoon, up to their eyes in Targets and I Cans and Success Criteria to get them through the coming term.
Sisters, I feel your pain. Though not, of course, to the extent of actually wanting to share it. May the Spring term bring you many rewards, may all your results be above average and may you remain unimpeded by invisible walls and non-existent hurdles.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that the GiveAsYouLive toolbar had stopped popping up when I went onto Amazon. DearHeart tells me that the little dears at Amazon have indeed put a block on the toolbar appearing.
Apparently, GiveAsYouLive did sent out an email about this but mine ended up in the junk box, amid the spam. So, in order to get Amazon to give the donation, one needs to go into the GiveAsYouLive site, click on stores, select Amazon and then OK that you want to leave the page to go and shop at Amazon.