Professor Shares Creative Solution During Difficult Time

In uncertain times, such as these, our old ways of solving problems might not work. A long-time Cypress College professor recently shared a story that might get creative wheels turning while many of us reconfigure our work and study environments and routines during the Coronavirus-related order to stay home.

Management and Marketing Professor Emerita Patti Kishel remembered an exercise during her first year teaching, in 1990, during a team-building retreat at the UCLA Conference Center at Lake Arrowhead. She recalled a “Survivor Exercise” for attendees: Determine which of a group of people would get to stay in a crowded lifeboat and which would be sacrificed (young person with potential, the older person with skills to share, the scientist, farmer, etc.).

Kishel described the results:

“With only limited space available each team had to make hard decisions and justify them – placing a value on human life. One by one, each group told who they picked to stay in the lifeboat – and why. It was hard making life-or-death decisions this way even in a simulation, in effect ordering people ‘Out of the boat!’

“The last group to share their decisions was the teachers from the Fine Arts Department. And, unlike the other teams, they had another approach. Working together, the people in the boat were going to make a float out of existing materials and position it under the lifeboat so that it was strong enough that all the people could stay in the boat. Rather than limiting their decision to the parameters of the problem, they expanded them and took a more creative approach.

“Instead of saying ‘Out of the boat!’  they said, ‘Back in the boat!’

“This is where we are now. Looking for new ways to keep us safe and to keep more people in the boat. With creativity, we can expand our parameters to do so.”

It’s a great reminder to rethink the usual choices we make – it could yield great results. Why not take a moment  to find a new way to view work or study options today.

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