The Nine Dot Problem: Exploring Imagined Restrictions


Category: Mindfulness

Read: 2 min

Author: Daniel Zeitler

I recently was given the nine-dot problem, which is a classic lateral thinking exercise. It is often used in management consulting trying to encourage the client to think from unconventional or new perspectives. The setup and the task is quite simple. All that’s needed for the setup is a 3 x 3 grid of dots like you can see in the image. The task is to connect every dot by using four lines, without lifting the pencil from the paper or drawing a line twice.

You can copy the grid below or on a piece of paper and give it a try for yourself. I won’t put an image of the solution in this post as it would be too compelling to quickly glimpse at the solution when getting frustrated in the process. Also, the solution can quickly be found by searching the web.

What isn’t too big of a spoiler, however, is the fact that we subject ourselves to imagined restrictions when solving problems. We think, live, and work within a given framework, within the system. To solve the Nine-Dot Problem it’s about thinking bigger.