Group Problem Solving

Over a month ago on Facebook , I posted a story about the Miller’s Daughter.  It was a simple story about a girl determining her fate by pulling a pebble from a bag.  The solution was available but I also said I would post the solution which I forgot to do so I’m doing it through this week’s blog.

The solution was the girl wanted to help her father maintain the mill, not marry the landlord but also not make him look like the cheater he was and help him so she dropped one of the stones when she pulled out the pebble from the bag.  She claimed it must have been the white one since the one left in the bag was black which saved the landlord’s reputation, the daughter did not having to marry him, and the father gets to keep the mill.

I suggested doing this as a group to get lots of ideas on how to resolve this dilemma.  When we look at problems at work, there are a number of ways we usually can solve a problem but most of the time we focus on one solution.

These types of riddles help us to exercise our mind or get us to think about different solutions to problems.  They also are a start to help us work together as a team or group.  We’ve talked about this a number of times on this blog about the need to work together, get different perspectives, and identifying solutionS to problems.  But in order to look at new ways of doing things, to compete in a global market or just to survive as any group, we must work together and get different ideas.

This week at my church, we had a terrible catastrophe, the computer crashed, died, went kaput.  Of course we all came up with ideas now on how to back up the computer which is fine for the future but the point is we all had ideas which should have been explored before.  We relied on one solution of backup which didn’t happen.  Instead, we ended up with no backup and no files to restore.  Had we looked at a number of different ways to resolve the problem, we might have a backup system that actually worked.

The same thing can happen to organizations if they rely on only one way to resolve problems.  They can crash, die and go kaput, too, but it can be much more devastating to more people.  Let’s try to work together and identify lots of ways to solve problems.

Keep watching Facebook for more puzzles, riddles to work on.  I promise I will provide the answers – when there are some!

The Miller’s Daughter puzzle is out of this book:   Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane.

It’s also on this website:

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
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