Monday, 21 September 2009

Bring a problem parties - speed therapy

Sometimes, when you are talking to someone, you come on an idea that makes so much sense you are surprised that it has not been thought of before. Often these ideas are not anyone's in particular: they emerge somehow in the conversation. Bring a problem parties are an idea like that.

To begin with, three observations. First, a pint is about the right length to talk over many problems. A pint shared lasts half an hour. With a good interlocutor, there is not much that you can't get some helpful insight on in half an hour. Second, independent advice on problems - be they emotional, practical or technical - is often useful. OK, I wouldn't ask the check out person in my local supermarket for advice on solving a high dimensional PDE, but often a random stranger can be helpful. Third, speed dating proves that if an experience is potentially interesting and short enough that a bad encounter is soon forgotten, then (some) people will sign up.

So, bring a problem parties. A selection of people, each with a problem. They are randomly matched into pairs, with one person selected as the solver, the other as the questioner. The questioner buys the drinks and presents his or her problem. The solver tries to help. After half an hour, a bell rings, and another round begins, with solvers as questioners and vice versa. Four rounds would be two hours, and you would be guaranteed two perspectives on your problem. It would also make for a more interesting evening than most. If you franchise it, cut me in please.



Blogger Ars Longa said...

I suspect that there would be an inverse relationship between quality of advice and quantity of alcohol consumed. Given that most problems are at least partly attributable to the person whose problems they are, a good dose of introspection is often the solution. You're very welcome. You owe me a pint.

3:19 pm  

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