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At a company I used to work at they used to put the new engineers through kindergarten. They had a few tasks that needed doing and the way to get these tasks done needed a little bit of resourcefulness.

One of the tasks was to get a set of data from a very old computer (PDP-11) into excel. Of course there were lots of problems with doing this and of course most things were broken.

I was working at some crappy desk hidden near the PDP-11. The easiest solution I would tell everyone was to type the numbers into a laptop, it would take them about 2 hours.

The difference in the way people would listen to what I would tell them was as different as their responses. Most people would try something for about an hour or so then type it in. A few resourceful people would implement some very amazing solutions and then tell me about it, I was impressed. And then there were quite a few people who would spend two days trying to implement a technical solution only to end up typing it in or just give up completely.

Some of the resourceful results where quite simple. The main thing I found was that trying to tell the difference between the resourceful people who came up with a solution in 30 minutes and those who took 2 days was impossible. Neither of them really wanted to hear my answer. Observing the differences in how people would deal with the problem and then with the advice was enlightening to say the least.

The people who gave up because they didn't want to type in data for 2 hours ceased their employment rather quickly.




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