Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck -Thinking Outside the Box – Puzzle by Susanne Swanson

Welcome to the  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:

This is the third post from the archives of  Susanne Swanson that I have chosen.. you will find plenty to browse if you head over.  Cats in particular are the muses in her household and they have some wonderful adventures. This week I have selected a post which mirrors my sentiments about team building exercises in general.  And it is something to think about in relation to how we all react when we here the words ‘Think outside the Box’

Thinking Outside the Box – Puzzle by Susanne Swanson

Let me say first that I mostly prefer the box – take comfort in the box, do not as a general rule, ‘think outside the box,’ because well, who likes uncertainty? I majored in accounting and liked very much how things fit nicely on both sides of the ledger, added up, balanced out and everything was governed by rules at the same time – perfect!

Once I was on a project which was run by a team of consultants and we had to participate in team building exercises, which were possibly my most unfavorite thing to do. We were given two toothpicks and asked to make a triangle out of them. And no, you couldn’t break them. Huh? Not possible I thought to myself. It takes three lines to make a triangle, that much I remember from my most hated math class – Geometry. Once you got it, you were to indicate that you had, then we would discuss. I pondered. I squirmed. I watched others who seemed to get it. At some point I must have mimicked something they were doing and they said, ‘ she got it” though I really DIDN’T. I just wasn’t about to volunteer the information, ‘hey I’m stupid here,’ and so we proceeded to discuss what the exercise was all about and what it meant to ‘think outside the box.’

Okay, just for the record, at some point, I finally GOT IT – though not on my own. The table was the base, you raised the toothpicks like a teepee and voila! you had a triangle!

Apparently this not fun, team building exercise which I thought was to teach me to ‘think outside the box,’ taught me instead how we are all different from one another, think differently, learn differently, and need one another to get through. But it also taught me how much I like being in the box. And how much I hate puzzles.

And so I slip this story in, just under the wire, in response to Lorna’s prompt over at Gin & Lemonade Puzzle.

©Susanne Swanson

About Susanne

Hello! This is Susanne. After years of working in accounting and technology where rules are clear and numbers add up, I decided to explore the other side where roads are meant to be traveled, memories unfurl slowly and cats have been known to talk.

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In my blog you will meet my two favorite felines, Tiger and Benji, and see pictures and stories from my travels, especially in the Pacific Northwest where I live. Add in my garden, some rain (lots of rain it turns out), a few sunsets and reflections on life, and you have an idea of where we are headed. I hope you come along for the ride.

Connect to Susanne


I am sure you enjoyed as much as I did and thanks to Susanne for letting me browse her archives.. so much to choose from… I know she would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

24 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck -Thinking Outside the Box – Puzzle by Susanne Swanson

  1. I am also an accountant and auditor, Suzanne, but I am the exact opposite and struggle to fit into the rigid box of my work environment. As I get older, I am finding it more difficult, especially as the profession is under scrutiny world wide and the regulations and restrictions are becoming tighter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂 I understand what you mean. I liked the logic and order of accounting especially early in my career. But I wouldn’t like the pressure of being an auditor and having to keep up with new rules. The exercises I describe above was for a Y2K technology project to replace our financial system. Through that I transitioned from accounting to being a software developer and found writing computer programs and testing them much more fun and less restrictive than accounting, It was also very logical and left-brain, but there was more creativity in how you got to an end.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Solar Minimum, Jazz Guitar, Vitamin Deficiency, Italian Cookery and Mischief in the court of Charles II | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  3. Susanne, I guarantee there are plenty of other people (I’m one of them) that cringe when a presenter starts talking team building as most of these exercises have nothing to do with being a team. One person usually takes the lead and tells everyone how he/she would solve the puzzle. Ha-ha! I don’t think this qualifies as “team building.” It seems like there is always someone in the room telling everyone else how “easy” the challenge is. Sorry, the rest of us mental midgets aren’t in your league.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you! 🙂 I look back on that exercise and all it did was make me and everyone else puzzled and uncomfortable. And they moved on rather quickly when they assumed people got the ‘correct’ answer. I don’t think I’ve met anyone yet who thought these exercises were helpful. Seems to be part of the consultants’ tool kit when starting a new project. Thanks so much for your comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. That is too funny! I loathe team-building games, but I’m very social. Perhaps it is the pressure to be “on” or to “measure up” that gets to me. I have always preferred to challenge myself to do my best rather than compete with others.

    This is is perfectly stated, Susanne: ” ‘think outside the box,’ taught me instead how we are all different from one another, think differently, learn differently, and need one another to get through.”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Susanne, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a group where the majority cheered when team building exercises were offered as the next activity. Definitely, I wouldn’t be cheering. As a legal secretary most of my working life, my tendency toward perfectionism was fed abundantly. However, when you’re a perfectionist, you feel no one can do it as well as you. Therefore, I was opposed to teams in the workplace. Don’t feel bad you didn’t get the puzzle quickly. I’d still be thinking about it and why I couldn’t figure it out to this day.

    I picked up on the fact you live in the PNW. So do I! And I have two kitties, Maggie and Ignatz, who are my sometime muses. If you’re in the range of the beautiful weather we’ve been having, enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

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