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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Clutter Clutter Everywhere

For everything you wanted to know on building leadership and management, refer Shyam Bhatawdekar’s website:

(Refer our High Quality Management Encyclopedia “Management Universe” at:
It is a very simple yet very effective exercise to show that bad housekeeping can literally make you illiterate, ineffective and inefficient. The clutter can simply overwhelm anyone to the extent that one can go wrong every time he wishes to work in that cluttered workplace to find a correct solution. It is difficult to find an optimal process in a cluttered environment that can give 100% correct results with 100% confidence of saying that what I did was correct.

This exercise is a fun exercise and will also work as an icebreaker and energizer.

Here is how you as a workshop or seminar leader should proceed towards designing and administering this exercise to your workshop participants.

Well before the conduct of the seminar or workshop, you will have to do some preparation. Take a blank A4 size paper and with a black ink pen, mark on it lots and lots of cross marks (X, X, X ………). Put them randomly and haphazardly on the paper. The whole page should like a messy clutter of X, X, X, X ………… (cross marks). You may like to put some 200 such cross marks on the paper. Now photocopy the paper with cross marks- make the number of copies that are required in your workshop such that you will be in a position to give one photocopied paper with cross marks to each of your participants.

On the workshop day, when you wish to administer this exercise to the participants, distribute one photocopied paper to each participant.

Now ask them to count the cross marks made on the paper. Also ask them to count the time taken by them to complete the counting. After everyone has completed counting the cross marks, ask them to shout out their count (numbers) of cross marks as well as the time taken by them.

Everyone will be surprised and also shocked to see that literally everyone has a different and definitely incorrect count of the cross marks as if each of them had turned into an illiterate and even forgot the rudimentary math of counting the numbers. Also the time taken by each person to count will be different and will have no correlation with the correctness or otherwise of the count. The fact is that they were not able to find out a correct process of counting (will its full process capability) in all that clutter.

Even if someone counted the cross marks correctly as 200, he will not be in a position to prove with full confidence that what he did was 100% correct since he will not know what process to follow to re-count and how (what process to use) to convince others that his process of counting was fully capable of counting the numbers correctly.

Because of the messy clutter (horrible housekeeping), there is loss of correct process having full process capability and so, it will not be possible for anyone to complete any task correctly with 100% confidence level in such a work environment. Discuss this aspect with your participants by asking them to share the experiences they had in carrying out this exercise.

Get Hold of the Related Books
You can order the following books on "management games and icebreakers" as printed books and eBooks from Amazon online:
  1. Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers
  2. Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers (Volume 2)
  3. Classic Team Building Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers
  4. 101 Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers
Related Reading: (Repository of a large number of articles in management and leadership): and

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