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By John Newstrom and Edward Scannell

Objective

To demonstrate that it is important to identify and realistically assess the factors limiting our success.

Materials

None, other than the Nature of Constraints handout.

Procedure

Relate the story of the Northern pike that was placed in one-half of a large table-aquarium, with numerous minnows swimming freely (and visibly) in the other half of the glass-divided tank. As the pike became hungrier, it made numerous unsuccessful efforts to obtain the minnows, but only succeeded in battering its snout against the glass divider. Slowly the pike "learns" that reaching the minnows is an impossible task, and seemingly resigns itself to its fate. When the glass partition is carefully removed, the pike (surprisingly?) does not attack the minnows, even though they swin bravely around it. This illustrates the pike syndrome, which is characterized by:

* Ignoring differences in situations

* Assuming complete knowledge

* Overgeneralizing reactions

* Rigid commitment to the past

* Refusal to consider alternatives

* Inability to function under stress

* Feeling victimized by one's environment

* Failing to test one's perceived constraints

Then engage the group in a discussion of the following questions and issues.

Discussion Questions

1. What are some examples of people who have exhibited the pike syndrome?

2. How can we help others (or ourselves) break out of these mental traps?


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