August 2005


In this edition we have two brainteasers

Brainteaser #1 - Arrow in Flight

Imagine an arrow in flight toward a target. For the arrow to reach the target, the arrow must first travel half of the overall distance from the starting point to the target. Next the arrow must travel half of the remaining distance.

For example, if the starting distance was 10m, the arrow first travels 5m, then 2.5m, then 1.25 ...

If you extend this concept further, you can imagine the resulting gap to the target getting smaller and smaller. How does the arrow ever reach the target?





Answer: The sum of an infinite series can be a finite number. In this instance 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + ... =1 and the arrow hits the target.


Relevance: Some times in project management it seems like the number of action steps is an infinite series. No matter how many steps we have taken ... we still have an infinite number of steps to go ... and each step yields ever diminishing progress.

Take the series ... and flip it. Think about projects from the end backwards ... what is the last thing that happens ... contact with the target. What happens right before that ... and right before that ... and right before that. This is especially relevant in highly complex or uncertain situation.



Brainteaser #2 - You are in a dark room with a candle, a wood stove and a gas lamp. You carry only one match, so what do you light first?




Answer: The match.


Relevance: Often times in launching a new project or other business venture we overlook the most obvious.

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