Riddle Me This?

David Rosen
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If you have ever been to the BP3 office in Austin,Texas, you know that as you walk into the space, there is a large whiteboard on a back wall that everyone can see as they pass. For a while now, I’ve been putting up facts of the day, riddles, math problems, and quotes. What is really interesting is the discussions that those produce and the clarifications I need to make when talking to the team at BP3.

You see, BP3 has a lot of smart people. So when you pose a seemingly simple questions, the staff here wants to know every possible details and delve into every word to understand the meaning and implications of each. While this is fantastic for a customer engagement, a simple puzzle can become a huge semantic argument. Don’t get me wrong, this sparks some lively debates, but what I’ve noticed is that our consultants will come up with some of the most creative solutions that I’ve seen.

For example, I posed this riddle (not an original): A merchant can put 8-large or 10-small boxes in a carton for shipping. In one shipment, he put 96 boxes. If there are more large boxes than small boxes, how many cartons did he ship?

 

Answer: It depends. The answer I thought of was 11 cartons

            7 cartons of large (7*8=56)

            4 cartons small (10*4=40)

            Totalling 96 boxes.

 

But the very first consultant came in that morning and came up with a different answer: 12 cartons, all full of large boxes. Ooops! I forgot a constraint that there had to be a mixture of large and small boxes.

And then it dawned on me: the reason I keep getting different answers is because this is what BP3 does, they look for all the possible ways to make something work and then come up with the right solution. It’s the same approach whether we are looking at BPM or puzzles: how do we best solve this problem given the data before us? While this makes coming up with new and different riddles each day difficult, it’s an approach that has served us well.