Puzzle building and management

My son Pelayo loves building puzzles.

He is almost three, so he’s managing to put together 6 to 12 piece puzzles. Observing him struggle with the frustrations of the problem at hand, I see some parallelisms with my day-to-day as a Financial IT manager:

1. Sometimes he has a piece in his hand that still cannot be put. His narrow view does not allow him to understand that that piece still can’t be put, so he tries to fit it until either he succeeds in hammering it into the wrong place, or by chance he drops it or loses focus on it and takes another piece which can be placed. Things take time. Sometimes it’s not the right time to put a certain piece in place. We can hammer it in place or we can take a step back and drop that piece for later.

2. Sometimes he is trying to put the piece in the right place, but since he has previously hammered the wrong piece into another place, he can’t put the piece where it should go. This confuses him: “But this is surely the cat’s tail! This must go here!”. He does not have the vision to know that there is another piece which is in his way. He tries things until by chance he takes out the wrong piece out of the way. Sometimes there is something blocking in another area which impedes us to progress, until this is fixed, we won’t be able to progress.

3. Since there is only one way all the pieces fit, and the puzzle gives immediate feedback on whether things are going well or not. If he does not lose his patience, he always ends up finishing the puzzle without needing for my help. It’s just a matter of time. Eventually things will be delivered.


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