Outside the Box or 9 Dots Connect

A great tool to expand people’s range of think is “Outside the Box” or connecting 9 dots.

The initial challenge is to connect 9 dots (3 dots by 3 dots) with 4 straight lines without one’s pencil or pen leaving the paper–the end of the first line is where the second line begins and so on.  Give people time to try.  Most will attempt solutions like this:

9 dots oops





The solution is:

9 dots 4 lines








9 dot boxMany of us will create an “invisible box” around the dots and assume the solution lies there.  As a result we get stuck and unable to meet the challenge.  The solution lies “outside the box.”  We need to free out minds of the constraints of what we think must be to be able to creatively expand.

HK Training 1







This puzzle has been around for a long time, so many people know the solution.  If someone in the group knows the solution, then invite them to come to the front and show it.  But then you can push further–“Can you connect all 9 dots with 3 straight lines?!”  Here is the solution:

9 dots 3 lines





Then, “Can you connect all 9 dots with 1 straight line?!”  Use a “shrinking ray” to make the dots small–put 9 little dots close together–and connect them with one thick line–draw a heavy marker line through the dots.  Or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity showed us that space bends, so (pull down the flip chart paper with the 9 dots) we fold the paper so all the dots are together then draw our line down the folds.  THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!!!

Outside Box sheetDSC_0174