How To Think Like A Consultant – Become A Tyrion For A Daenerys!

Let me begin with a little brain teaser –

The 20 Prisoners

The warden of a small minimum security prison believes that everyone deserves a second chance. He rounds up the 20 prisoners in his prison and offers to release them if they can solve his puzzle.

Each of the 20 prisoners will be placed alone in solitary confinement. The warden will then draw a name at random and bring the prisoner to an empty building. Inside the building is a light switch that does nothing. The prisoner can flip the switch up or down if they like, after which they’ll be escorted back to their cell. Sometime later, the warden will bring another prisoner at random to the empty building with the light switch. Once again, the prisoner can flip the switch up or down if they like, after which they’ll be escorted back to their cell. Note that the same prisoner might be selected multiple times before some prisoners are selected at all.

This will continue until one of the prisoners tells the warden that all 20 of them have been to the empty building with the light switch at least once. If the prisoner is right, they will all be released. If the prisoner is wrong, the group loses their chance for immediate release. “Oh, one more thing, the light switch is currently in the DOWN position” the warden tells the prisoners.

The prisoners have one hour to come up with a plan to solve the puzzle. When the hour is up, they will be escorted to their solitary confinement and there will be no further communication of any kind between them. Can you figure out the answer? Note that this is NOT a trick question, the answer lies in some kind of coordinated switch-flipping strategy.

Solving this puzzle requires lateral thinking which is one of the main skills of a consultant. Lateral Thinking is the ability to solve a problem by an indirect and creative approach, typically through viewing the problem in a new and unusual light. A consultant is basically a problem solver. He/she needs to know how to analyse the available data to come up with solutions. The concept of Lateral Thinking was promoted by Edward de Bono in the late 1960s. Since then many techniques have been developed to learn lateral thinking. As a consultant, you need to be able to come up with innovative solutions to a problem. In the real world, you may not have all the resources to solve a case but you need to be creative and make use of what you’ve got. To inculcate lateral thinking, you need to train your brain and it needs sincere practice.

In this complex world where there’s no end to data being generated, every organisation needs consultants for informed decision-making and problem-solving. A consultant is a leader, what Tyrion is to Daenerys. If you want to be the next Tyrion Lannister, register for the event “All You Need To Know About Consulting” here. The Event/Workshop is on 30th September 2017, at MISB Bocconi, Powai, Mumbai!

PS – Write your solutions in the comments section below.

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