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Allowing for Failure in an Abandoned Asylum

There were three of us locked in an asylum doctor’s office. The mad doctor was performing dark experiments on the patients before a mysterious fire and our team was tasked with investigating this claim in the now-abandoned asylum. We quickly searched the office and found several clues as to the doctor’s mad experiments, including some weird tools and medical equipment hidden within the walls.

At one point in our investigation, we noticed there were pictures of previous asylum directors on the wall, along with their dates of directorship. It was odd that they were looking in all different directions in their photos. Then we found a directional lock, and it all made sense. A directional lock is a lock that uses directional inputs as the combination. It allows for the slide button to be pushed up, down, left, and right, in a certain combination to unlock it. We input the directions that the director’s eyes were looking in each of the eight portraits from left to right along the wall. The lock didn’t open.

Since we have a rule of always double-checking each other, we had another team member try the same combination sequence without success. Both team members shared their theories for how to proceed, one believing that we should input it by the chronological date that the directors held the directorship, and the other arguing for another way to try the lock (friendly arguing, of course). The first team member arguing for the chronological order felt very strongly that this was the correct combination (why else would they include dates of directorship?). However, since the second teammate felt just as strongly about their solution, the discussion was ended and the second teammate had an opportunity to test their theory. When it didn’t work out, they tried the chronological combination and it worked. Success!

The learning in this scenario is twofold: first, even when under a time constraint, take time to do some problem solving and gather team member’s thoughts on which solution should be implemented. The second lesson is that sometimes you need to let others fail so that they will learn. The caveat, of course, is that you minimize the risks incurred when that failure happens. We learn more from our failures than our successes, so if the conditions are safe, allow the failure.

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