I have a puzzle for you with these four cards:
As you can see, you can see the back of #1 and #3 and the front of #2 and #4.
Now suppose I made this statement:
Just by looking at the cards, you can’t tell whether this is true or false. You would have to turn over some of the cards to see what’s on the other side. Here’s my question for you:
What is the minimum number of cards (and what are they) you would have to turn over to be sure whether this statement is true or false?
Obviously you could turn them all over, but that’s too easy – and you can do better than that.
So … what are the minimum number of turns you need to make?
Keep scrolling for the answer …
OK, so here’s the reasoning to get to the answer …
- You do have to turn over #1, because if it doesn’t have a dragon on the other side, the statement is false.
- You don’t have to turn over #3, because the statement is only about red-backed cards, so this is irrelevant.
- You also don’t have to turn over #4 (If it has a red back it doesn’t tell us anything about “every” red-backed card; and if it doesn’t, it’s irrelevant)
- You do have to turn over #2, because if it has a red back, the statement is false.
So that’s the answer: Just #1 and #2.
Did you get the right answer?
If so, congratulations!
Most people correctly figure out #1, because we’re talking about red-backed cards, and this is obviously a red-backed card. So it’s easy to think logically about it.
But most people don’t think of #2, because there’s no “red”, “back” or “dragon” on this card. So it’s not as easy to reason about that one, because you have to think about something that isn’t in front of you.
The same thing happens when preparing for the future.
When you look ahead, there are some things you can see and some you can’t.
The things you can see are easier to manage, because you can plan for them and figure out how to deal with them when they arrive.
The things you can’t see are not so easy! You can’t plan for them because you don’t know what they are. Instead, you have to be flexible, nimble and adaptable – so you can deal with them, even if they are unexpected.
Good leaders look ahead today and plan for what they can see coming tomorrow. Great leaders – those who are most fit for the future – learn to be flexible, so they can adapt tomorrow to what they can’t see today.