My life as a muppet (or “Proust reference by some faker who hasn’t even read it yet”)

About 10 years ago, I was on some union training. The leader had us play a game where she dished out a load of cards to different members of the group. One each card was a small part of a larger image.  We had to try to “construct” the image that the cards would create if they were all laid out in the right order, WITHOUT laying them down.  So, you had to listen carefully to everyone.  Crucially, she spotted an arrogant and impatient idiot in the pack (not mentioning any names) and gave the crucial card to someone who wasn’t confident and speak-up-y…

And we didn’t complete the image, thanks to that AII (not mentioning any names). *IF* we had done go-rounds, properly encouraged folks to speak up/created the space/kept the AII from being an AII all the time, then we would have.    Which is a lesson I learn/forget, learn/forget.  But slowly (I like to tell myself – everyone needs a redemption narrative, after all), it’s getting easier…  All this stirred, like the texture of a madeleine cake by this below (from here )-

Collegial collaboration is a process we must come to understand and work hard toward. The difficulty of effective collaboration has been demonstrated by several experiments conducted by Howard Gruber and his associates at the University of Geneva. In one experiment, he demonstrates a box which allows two people to peer into it and see the shadow cast by what is to them an unknown object. Because of the angle, each viewer sees a different shape to the shadow. Their task is to share the information about what they see in order to identify the object casting the shadow. For instance, if a cone is placed in the box, one viewer sees a circle, the other a triangle.

The idea was to encourage the viewers to collaborate like two astronomers taking a fix on the heavens from different positions, and they see the world in slightly different ways. They take respectful advantage of the fact that one sees it from here and the other from there, and they put together a richer, more soundly based idea of what is really out there than either one could reach alone.

But the opposite happened. Each viewer assumed their view was the correct one and that the other person was apparently confused, blind or crazy. “How can you see a triangle? I see a circle.” This was true of highly intelligent, educated adults. The assumptions made by the viewers made it difficult to collaborate about even a simple object, like a cone. 

Oh, and speaking of collaboration – this from Johnnie Moore is awesome (no surprise there!)


Two people are walking towards each other along a crowded pavement. Each is carrying a precarious pile of boxes in front of them. They see each other coming, and as they approach engage in a careful dance to get past each other without dropping anything. They succeed and carry on about their days. No one else notices or cares.

Another two people approach each other on the same street in the same circumstances. They look at each other’s boxes and are a little intrigued. There is a relationship between them. It slightly distracts them. They collide and their boxes fall to the ground. Now they have conflict and opportunity. Sparks might fly. Confusion might grow. People will watch and make judgements, some of them harsh. Things aren’t under control.

Too many “collaborations” are like like the first, and get judged a success. Two many of the second kind get dismissed as pointless.


About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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One Response to My life as a muppet (or “Proust reference by some faker who hasn’t even read it yet”)

  1. Wotan says:

    Oh, I like that Johnnie Moore example. It’s really good ‘cos I feel like it’s working on my subconscious. I don’t know quite what it means, what the lesson is. But I’ve got a good buzzing feeling about it in my brain.

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