A Commonplace

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7/10/2017

The Hat Game vs The Chair Game

So a friend of mine asked me if the "sitting on a chair" game that I did at Clown School and wrote about a couple of days ago is similar to the "Hat Game".

A Chair

A Chair

They are very similar, but I think the differences are very interesting. One obvious difference is that the sitting on the chair game is asymmetrical. One clown is sitting on the chair, another clown is trying to sit on the chair. This kind of splits up what's happening in the hat game, letting the clown who isn't in the chair focus on strategies for getting into the chair and the clown who's is in the chair focus on how they feel about being in the chair – and how the strategies to oust them are working.

When you're playing the hat game, you're trying to stop someone from taking your hat and you're trying to take the other clown's hat. You're both in the chair and out of the chair at the same time. And because taking someone's hat is relatively easy – especially when one of the clowns momentarily forgets that they're playing the hat game – the hat game is over fairly quickly.

But I think the most important difference between the hat game and the chair game is that in the chair game the task is (nearly) impossible and this slows everything down and gives the clowns (and the audience) a chance to think about what's actually going on.

A Hat

A Hat

And then this leads me onto another thought (man oh man, how though-provoking is this sitting on a chair stuff). What if you were to make this a general strategy for thinking about problems? And not just thinking about them, actually a strategy for practically trying to solve them? What if you took some problem that was hard (like the hat game is hard) and rather than make it easier, made it harder. What if, as well as making it nearly impossible, you also made it much simpler, you deconstructed it (as the chair game does to the hat game). The chair game does this to the hat game for comic effect. It also makes it clear that the entertaining thing about a comic scene is watching people having problems and trying to solve them, not solving them. It also emerges from the "successful" strategies that people come up with, that it's good to get into some kind of "second circle" rapport with the clown on the chair and to NOT TALK ABOUT THE CHAIR.

Something that was said when we did the chair game this week – "If they're laughing, they're not thinking." Which I think I also read in a book about how to be a pimp (I read widely).

Something else that's different between the hat game and the chair game is how long it takes to play a game this is sometimes called "Clockspeed".

So, what do we learn from the hat game vs the chair game? Two ways that you can make a problem more informative/interesting/entertaining are by either:

And I think it's worth thinking about how you could do this with one of the work problems that I'm dealing with at the moment – sending feedback through a hierarchy.

What happens if you have to continually be providing feedback? What happens if you deliberately make the feedback bad? What happens if you're not allowed to provide feedback? These are all interesting questions, probably for another post.