So how did you do with our four questions?  Below are the answers as well as a bonus brain teaser at the bottom of the page.


1. You are a participant in a race. You overtake the second person. What position are you in? The intuitive answer is "I am now the first." The answer of course is that if you overtake the one who is second, you take his place, and you are now second.

2. Mary´s Father has five daughters. Their names are: 1. Nana, 2. Nene, 3. Nini, 4. Nono and ?? What is the name of the fifth daughter? The intuitive response most people give is to look after-a-e-i-o- and go with Nunu. The correct answer is already given in the question--Mary.

3. A cup and teapot set costs $110. The teapot costs $100 more than the cup. How much is a cup? The intuitive response is $110 - $100 = $10. The correct answer is $5.

4. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?  Your first response is probably to take a shortcut, and to divide the final answer by half. That leads you to twenty-four days. But that’s wrong. The correct solution is forty-seven days.

Get all four correct?  Great job!  Odds are, though, that your brain tried to force you to accept the wrong (fast) answers first. 

Daniel Kahneman, who was the first psychologist to win the Nobel Prize in Economics (2002), explains why an intuitive reaction is not always the best. In his groundbreaking book “Thinking: Fast and Slow,” he discusses intuitive (fast) and rational (slow) thinking. He shows us how an intuitive reaction could lead to problems and what the limitations are of our common sense.

Kahneman believes that fast and intuitive thinking ('system 1', in his terminology) is safe if:

The issue is simple;

You have seen an issue like this many times before and resolved it successfully

The cost of being wrong is low and the consequences are acceptable

Kahneman believes that we can think more slowly ('system 2'), when:

Issues are complex and the solution is not obvious;

You have not seen an issue like this before. For example, a new machine falters and existing procedures and protocols are not bringing the solution;

The cost of being wrong is high and the consequences unacceptable. For example, the machine stops, which significantly impairs the operation.

It's all about switching at the right time

Everyone is able to respond intuitively to a simple issue. It is essential to distinguish between simple and complex issues, and between a fast response and a slow, more thoughtful one.  Kepner-Tregoe is known for its expertise in Problem Solving and Decision Making that can enable your teams to demonstrate Clear Thinking in all they do, leading to smarter strategies, better resolution of issues, and more effective execution.

Register for a workshop today and embrace the power of Clear Thinking!

Here's a final, "tricky math" puzzle just for fun:
Note: This riddle must be done in your head only -- do NOT write it down.

Take 1000 and add:







and 10.

What is the new total?

Did you get 5,000?  The actual answer is 4,100. The decimal sequence confuses our brain, which always jumps to the highest decimals (100s instead of 10s).

Have a great, clear thinking day!