This is a nice little icebreaker that can be used for small teams – you’ve probably encountered this problem before…
You’ve stumbled across a river. In your possession is a hungry fox, a hungry chicken, and a sack of corn. There is a rowboat moored on the river bank, and it can only carry yourself and one other thing at a time. How do you get everything across to the other side of the river safely?
Rather than be too explicit, I like to imply that various combinations of the ‘possessions’ cannot be left alone together – the team should be able to work that out themselves. It’s also a useful social experiment to say nothing at the outset and just give the problem in written form to the most introverted member to see the group dynamic at work.
The solution is quite simple, if the group tackles it systematically. But I’ve regularly seen groups that either come up with outlandish solution or fail altogether.
And the solution….
You take the chicken across the river and leave it on the far bank (leaving the fox and the corn together on the home bank)
You return to the home bank alone and pick up the fox and take it across the river (leaving the chicken and corn alone on each side of the river)
Since you can’t leave the fox and chicken together, you drop the fox off on the far bank and pick the chicken back up again (leaving the fox and the corn alone on each side of the river)
You return to the home bank. Since you can’t leave the chicken with the corn, you drop the chicken off and pick up the corn (leaving the chicken and the fox alone on each side of the river)
You drop the corn off on the far bank (leaving the fox and the corn together on the far bank)
You go back and get the chicken.