Nine-Dot Puzzle, Bewilderment, & the Art of Possibility

I closed my CAST track session with this puzzle:  Connect all 9 dots with four straight lines without taking the pen from paper.



The frames our minds create, define – and confine – what we perceive to be possible…Everybody hears: ‘Connect all 9 dots with four straight lines without taking the pen from paper, within the square formed by the outer dots.  And within that framework there is no solution. If, however we amend the original set of instructions by adding phrase, ‘Feel free to use the whole sheet of paper,’ it is likely that a new possibility would suddenly appear to you.  I might see the space outside the dots was crying out, ‘Hey bring some lines out here!’ – from Art Of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life.

My CAST session was inspired by various forms of bewilderment I met in testing, akin to experiences I worked through during 3 days in silence with paints, paintbrushes, and paper through a Process Arts workshop.  The painting weekend was an incredible experience for me.   Art, after all, is about rearranging us, creating surprising juxtapositions, emotional openings, startling presences, flight paths to the eternal.  

Now 15 years into my testing career, I see inter-disciplinary studies across all fields. In my mind, testing is not far from what I loved about studying and working in environmental science, which was whole-systems thinking and the growth of  ideas like those in Natural Capitalism.  Testing insights are everywhere waiting to be discovered…through studies and applications of sciences, personal study, play, and the practice of art.

P.S. We can still go beyond the above illustrated solution.  Check out how on Seth Godin’s post on Appropriate Cheating in the nine-dot problem.



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