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Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/01/2006 4:53 PM

Now this is just for fun, and NOT, repeat, NOT a mathematical or logic problem. Let's call it a "management" problem! If you looked at your "Dilbert" calendar this week, please refrain from giving the "right" answer. I will report that next week!

One a Prospective Employee Reasoning Test given by Dilbert's Pointy-Haired Boss, you are asked the following question:

You have one fox and two chickens that you need to get across a river. You can only take one at a time in the row-boat. The fox will eat the chickens if left alone.

What do you do?

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#1

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/01/2006 8:26 PM

Really STL, this is too easy!

One solution is to take the fox across first, then you row back and look for the first chicken (if you've forgotten to tie them up) and take her across. Then you get the fox and bring him back to the starting point. Look for the second chicken and take her to the opposite bank and then come back for the fox. Then you and the fox can go looking for the two chickens who you, again, forgot to tie up when you took them across.

The second solution is to shoot all three animals and bring them across one by one. That way, you won't have to go chasing after the chickens and no problem with the fox eating them.

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#12
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:13 AM

Really, Vulcan, your first answer is too conventional! On the second answer, your're getting warmer, but now you just have a bunch of dead animals, how does this help?

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#2

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/01/2006 9:04 PM

Sell the fox and get a bigger boat.

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#13
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:16 AM

Warmer, but no cigar!

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#3

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/02/2006 12:40 AM

Let the fox eat the chickens then take him across.

Of course a methods engineer would want to know first - Why? The answer may preclude my solution but since it is not given we can assume the minimum requirement is to get them to the other side in whatever form...

Of course you could just stuff the chickens doen the foxes throat whole and force him to regurgitate on the other side but your success is far from guaranteed...

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#14
In reply to #3

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:18 AM

So you have a sick fox and a couple of dead chickens! Where's the profit in that? Good Try, though.

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#4

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/02/2006 7:01 AM

This is a variation of the fox, (eat) chicken and (eat) corn logic problem - where you can only carry one at a time.

Unless of course I have fallen into a logic trap of vertical thinking - and lose the job because they want someone capable of horizontal thinking.

The boatman was a juggler for instance.

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#15
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:21 AM

Yes, answer number one is too conventional. Don't call us, we'll call you!

Second answer is problematic, you are the boatman. Where does it say you have juggling skills on your resume?

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#5

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/02/2006 8:15 AM

first left 2chikens and go with fox then go back.in 2nd time carry 1chiken and back with fox.then left fox and carry chiken and put with another and lastly carry fox.

i m hardware engg. working in hcl infosystems ltd.as support engg.

with regards

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#16
In reply to #5

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:26 AM

Your answer is also too conventional, and you need to learn to spell "chicken". Besides, you need a Green Card to get the job!

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#6

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/02/2006 9:54 AM

kill the fox

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#18
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:28 AM

Simple. Dramatic. Yet, not quite absurd or profitable enough! Keep trying!

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#7

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/02/2006 10:24 AM

1st: Take the fox over to far bank..

2nd: Go back and get a chicken take him over to far bank. Take the Fox Back.

3rd. Take the other chicken over leave the fox on the starting bank.

4th: Go back and pick up the fox on the starting bank.

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#19
In reply to #7

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:40 AM

Conventional wisdom. Don't let the swinging door kick you in the rear on the way out!

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#8

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/03/2006 6:52 AM

This is not a reasoning test for managers. For 2nd grade kids. Anyway you wanted to find how many managers / would be managers are free to attempt such useless things ?!

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 3:11 AM

Build a bridge. Jeez!

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 6:41 AM

Tie The fox's mouth then take them in any order hope the chicken does not kill the fox if u think tie their mouth's also...

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#22
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:50 AM

What would the chickens do, peck him to death? I think the fox could still get them with his claws! Besides, where is the fun factor here? I guess if you like cockfights, ....hmm, maybe you could charge admission, wagering, .... you may be on to something!

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#21
In reply to #9

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:46 AM

PlbMak,

You must be either a Civil Engineer or Democrat! Always trying to build bridges, geez!

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#48
In reply to #21

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 2:36 AM

Actually, I'd prefer a tunnel!

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#20
In reply to #8

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:42 AM

This is for Guest#8,

Say what? This is for FUN, don't get MAD!

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#11

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:09 AM

We have a few interesting answers already. Some of you "got it" and understood that this is NOT a test of logic or math, which I stated quite plainly! However, no one has quite hit the mark (aim LOWER!) or come up with a better answer. The Dilbert reference should have been a give away that the answer must not only be "outside the box", but "off the wall" as well!.

For anyone who has lived under a rock for the last 20 years or so, or in some foreign countries, which amounts to the same thing, "Dilbert" is the title and main character of a daily syndicated comic strip by Scott Adams about a lonely, long-suffering, geeky engineer who works in a world of pointy-haired bosses and lazy, stupid, backstabbing, or PMSing colleagues, whose only true friend is his trusty dog, Dogbert. However, "loyal" Dogbert constantly criticizes Dilbert and makes snide comments about Dilbert and his lifestyle. Even his cat, Catbert, has deserted him to become the "Evil HR Director" at work, usually sucking up to the pointy-haired boss or hatching some ill-conceived moneymaking scheme, which usually works anyway due to the dimwittedness of others. Besides making the occasional business trip to visit their subsidiary in "Elbonia", a vaguely Eastern European quagmire, Dilbert is usually found in his cubical or at a meeting, of which there are usually way too many. Does this sound familiar to anybody?

So, if you lived in Dilbert's absurd world, and had an interview with his pointy-haired boss, you would NOT come up with the conventionally, logical answer given by several above. If you did, you would NOT get the job!

Here is a hint: As in some companies, unethical, but NOT illegal (as long as you don't get caught), behavior is often rewarded, especially if it means big bucks for the company and big raises for the pointy-haired boss!

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#17

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:27 AM

I was amazed to see those classical answers!
My take is as follows: call the local hunt on your mobile, sell them one chicken for the hunt dinner, and then walk across the adjacent bridge carrying the other chicken by its legs (you never liked that pesky fox anyway).

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#23
In reply to #17

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 9:53 AM

Now we are getting somewhere! But where did that bridge magically come from? Don't tell me you hired PlbMak to build it? There went our profits from the chicken sale! Plus, now you only have one chicken, and nothing else to show for it!

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#24
In reply to #23

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 10:14 AM

I didn't say I undercharged for the chicken. They were so pleased to have a fox to chase for once that I was able vastly to overcharge them. And the bridge was there already (no-one said it wasn't). Otherwise, I would steal one of the hunt horses and ride it across the shallow bit.
BTW, who swapped the goat and the cabbage for two chickens?

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#26
In reply to #24

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 10:43 AM

Well, we wouldn't have had a boat there if there was a bridge, duh! Stealing horses is against the law, and besides, you would probably be caught.

Goat and cabbage, what is that about? Please do not complicate the question!

Well at least you got a good price for the chicken and the fox, although we were needing to use the fox in a commercial we are shooting on the other side! We can always pick up a couple of live chickens, but do you know how hard it is to obtain a real, live, fox, and transport him across state lines? (Why do you think you were crossing a river in a boat?)

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#29
In reply to #26

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 11:20 AM

Just because there is a boat there, there's no reason that I have to use it (the question doesn't say it is the only means available).

Regrding "duh!":
I don't know where you access your rivers, but...
If the boat is that small, it's probably mainly used for leisure; and, because people like to access their leisure as quickly as possible, most small leisure vessels are kept close to a road access - and that is often near a bridge. BTW, the last time I heard the term "duh!" (not much used here), the user was trying to belittle the recipient. It didn't help that time either.

I must be terribly out of touch, but I cannot remember pointy-head being involved in advertising. And you claim that I'm overcomplicating the question.

OK, so I exaggerated - I borrowed the horse when one of the riders fell off - it went back home as soon as I'd finished. In any event, they aren't going to take to law because of the pictures I took (see contribution #25).

BTW, as you appear not to know, the two more usual variants for this problem are: fox, goat and cabbage; or fox, chicken and corn.

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#31
In reply to #29

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 11:51 AM

Please re-read the question: You have one fox and two chickens that you need to get across a river. You can only take one at a time in the row-boat. The fox will eat the chickens if left alone. What do you do?

Please do not overcomplicate. Points will be taken off! Remember, this is Dilbert, not Monty Python! There is no goat, or cabbage, or corn, or SPAM.....

Except for the Elbonian subsidiary, Dilbert's company is 100% US-based. So your bit about fox-hunters not "going to take to law" because the UK has banned fox hunting is a little off.

Pointy-haired Boss (usually referred to as PHB), seems to wear many hats. At times he appears to be primarily a technical manager, at other times, a general manager, who could have advertising responsibilities. In any event, advertising, as part of marketing, is tied very closely to product development, particularly during a new product launch, when everybody is on the "Launch Team".

Regardless, the question is asked by PHB because he wants to see if the candidate is "Our kind of people", and I was just role-playing as PHB in defense of my silly question, and belittling is quite often a PHB trait! Sorry if you took offense! And there is no bridge there, because I say so, duh!

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 12:34 PM

Hi PHB. Two duh! (what is the plural of duh!) in one day - is that some kind of record, or have you changed you style.
The question says that I can only take "one item at a time in the boat". It does not say that that this is the only means of transport. Clearly, STL engineer, neither of us is on PHB's wavelength, and we only look even sillier when we try.

If the fox is for the rodeo, why do I want to keep the chickens? (ad shoots usually have caterers on hand)

N.B. If it was for an advertisement, "our kind of people" would organise it somewhere well away from base - the UK would be just the place to choose for a rodeo.

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 12:51 PM

Excuse, me? Is this the Dept. of Arguments? I was looking for the Ministry of Silly Walks, is it down the hall, room 11?

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 1:02 PM

Room 666, I think, right next to PWB

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#65
In reply to #31

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

01/25/2008 12:01 PM

I'm thinking that (PBH) must be a (federal government) manager, rather than a high-level private-sector manager, because the company could not have made any profit as a result of such managerial (leadership...?) and still stayed in business as long as the (PBH) has been appearing in said comic strip...

Yes, I'm just so (inspired...) by how (well...) my tax-payer dollar is (consumed...) by such (leadership...) in real life... (Please have no doubt that my sarcasm might not be specifically intended because it is FULLY intended)

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#25
In reply to #23

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 10:27 AM

P.S. As I was visiting the UK at the time, I sent pictures of the hunt back to the office. As the hunt turned out in full livery, I made a profit of $20k on the deal.
(For those who haven't heard, you are no longer allowed to hunt foxes with hounds in the UK)

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#27

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 10:45 AM

put some lifevests on the chickens and drag them behind the rowboat using a rope. the fox can ride in the boat. Since the chickens are technically not in the boat, you can get them all across in one trip. Since this is dilbert-land, perhaps you could convince the boss that you can get the chickens to pull the boat across the river for you.

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#28
In reply to #27

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 10:57 AM


Now where are we going to find lifevests that fit a chicken? Besides, if they were trussed up in lifevest, I don't think they would feel like pulling a boat, would you?

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#30
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 11:23 AM

they just need some motivation... like a hungry fox dangled behind them ;)

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#35

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 1:47 PM

Oh, this was fun reading.

Guest - I'm siding with STL, thinking he gets to say "duh!" because he was, like, the guy who wrote the question! Duh!

And I hope this doesn't reflect poorly on my engineering reasoning, since the first response of any true engineer is to try to "solve" the "problem"...but I'd respond that my first step would be to produce a report detailing my plan, which would likely entail several mission-critical steps beginning with:
- organize a committee to solve the problem
- send up a flag with any prospective solutions to see who salutes
- put up a straw man to take the brunt of any criticism

- apply for any related government research grants dealing with foxes, chickens, rivers, or boats, including an environmental impact study

And then negotiate bonuses and back-dated stock options, before hiring Vulcan to get the job done, unless by that time the company has restructured to form a goat and cabbage department.


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#36
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 1:48 PM

Oh - and what are the chances of recycling that boat to build a cage to hold them until I can sell them at a profit to passers-by, taking my gains to eBay to purchase another fox and more chickens on the other side, ideally at wholesale?

Maybe PHB and I can split the profits...

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#37
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 2:02 PM

My boy, I am aftraid I cannot hire you. In six months you would be after my job! And the first rule of PHB's is: "We've got to protect our phoney-baloney jobs!"

No, the fellow we are looking for is going to protect the company's ASSets and profits, make me (PHB) look good, and not focus attention on himself. In essence, we would love to clone Dilbert, but, at the moment anyway, that seems to be an unlikely prospect. Ethics are, of course, optional, but should never get in the way of the three items mentioned above.

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#38
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 2:27 PM

Well then, in that case, I suppose I could suggest that we set up a FedEx contract to ship all three animals safely to the other side while saving all the effort of rowing that silly boat...

Then, of course, I'd have to let PHB suggest the same thing while doing that "hand motion" thing, promising to back him up 100%, and throwing in something about admiring his new tie...;)

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#39

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 3:10 PM

Tape the foxes' mouth shut and row 'em all over at the same time, (or one at a time to stick to the "rules".)

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#40

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 3:16 PM

Tell the boss to buy a bigger boat (like a yacht), transport the chickens and fox on that, and afterwards, the boss can keep the yacht as a perk.

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#41
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 3:29 PM

You are thinking way too big, for a subordinate. But your ethics are on the right track! Sticking with the original problem, we still cannot transport more than one animal at a time.

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#42

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 3:47 PM

sell the two chickens, travel across the river with the fox and money, then buy two cheap knockoff chickens. give the boss any leftover money to not look closely at the new chickens.

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#43
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 3:52 PM

Dang you're close, but not quite! We'll call you back if we don't hire the other guy!

Actually, we really can't hire anyone who might try to bribe me, because I might get caught and lose my phoney-baloney job! (Rule #1 for PHB's) Unless you have a foolproof way of providing me 100% deniability, that is.

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#44
In reply to #43

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 4:08 PM

dont try and bribe him... just say it went under budget due to his superior leadership. Also the chickens look poor because they got seasick, and marketing can put a positive spin on it.

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#45

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 4:46 PM

Skin the fox for a fur coat and stuff it with the feathers from the chickens. Now that the chickens cannot fly around short distances, you can grab them and hold the both of them in one hand by each of thier legs. Now get in the boat and give it some time until thier feathers grow back and give the fur coat to your boss for his wife as a present.

Now that is how you land points with a boss to get a job!

-Sam

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#46
In reply to #45

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 4:52 PM

One fox won't make much of a coat! Whoever heard of chicken feather insulation? Goose feather or goose down, please!

NEXT!

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#47

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/04/2006 5:07 PM

reschedule the transport to after the river freezes. Walk everyone across. While you wait for the freeze, offer to take the boss fishing in the company rowboat. If you aren't at a cold enough latitude, you've got a tough sell though.

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#49
In reply to #47

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 8:28 AM

Hey ..

Blind the fox n transport one by one...

I guess the chicken will be wise enough not to go near the fox....

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#50

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 9:07 AM

This is what you do:

Skin the Fox

Roast the Chickens

Make pillows with the feathers

Row over and sell all three at the market on the other side

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#51

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 11:25 AM

This is a management test, right? Tell your minions to "get those animals accross the river by the time I come back from lunch." Go have a three-martini lunch with the boss, comiserate on how hard you are working, then go back and evaluate the results.

If the animals are not accross, fire the employees. If the task is completed, take credit for "enabling" the team.

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#52
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Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 11:35 AM

There are no minions except the candidate. The term "management" does not only mean supervison of other people. It can also mean to manage resources, tasks, and yourself.

But at least you are in the spirit of the test. Try thinking a little more personal, what would you do, without anyone else's help, to resolve the situation so that it was favorable to you and to the company, even if you have to "cheat" a little to do it!

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#53
In reply to #52

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 11:44 AM

Hey you! Boat driver! take these animals over that river and theres a drink in it for you!

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#54
In reply to #52

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 12:12 PM

Slip the fox a mickey. The rest of the exercise is a transportation problem. By the time the fox wakes up everyone will be on the other side.

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#55

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 3:05 PM

Ok, how about we teach the two chickens to row and the fox can be the "motivation". That way I can just sit back and relax while they take me across in the rowboat.

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#56
In reply to #55

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 3:13 PM

Chickens that can row a boat? Absurdity is one thing, fantasy is another! (Nevermind about Dilbert's talking pets!)

And once again:

"You can only take one at a time in the row-boat."

┬┐Comprende, Se├▒or Pink?

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#57
In reply to #56

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 3:22 PM

Can we call them Foxbert and Chickenbert I and II?

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#58
In reply to #56

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 3:25 PM

Take the Fox and trade your row boat in for a motor boat.

or

Build a catapult and use it to launch the chickens to the other side. Then take the fox over in the row boat.

or

Don't cross the river. The grass always seems greener on the other side, but rarely is.

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#59

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 3:35 PM

OK, I guess I will have to put you out of my misery give you guys the "answer", according to Scott Adams by letting you see the original strip. So if you don't like the "answer" blame him, not ME!

Not sure if I would violate any copyright laws if I post an image of the strip here (probably), so instead I will post a URL to the website of someone else who is already violating copyright laws!

http://pag.csail.mit.edu/~adonovan/dilbert/show.php?day=27&month=11&year=2003

Hmmm, the CR4 text editor seems to want to break the line because of the question mark, so here is a TinyURL that will work if the longer one does not:

http://tinyurl.com/yk6frj

Also, this way if you silly people want to keep on guessing, ignore the URL. I am done with this thread!

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#60
In reply to #59

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/05/2006 3:39 PM

I concede. That was far better than any of my answers. Worst of all, now I'm craving barbecue chicken.

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#61

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/06/2006 7:22 AM

.

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#62

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/06/2006 9:48 AM

This is a variation of the classic missionaries and cannibals problem or the more PC wolves and sheep problem:

Three missionaries and three cannibals come to a river and find a boat that holds two. If the cannibals ever outnumber the missionaries on either bank, the missionaries will be eaten.

How shall they cross?

Wikipedia Article

Let us proceed by building a bridge....

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#63
In reply to #62

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/07/2006 8:48 AM

I think everyone's too tired of this thread to bite..

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#64
In reply to #63

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

12/07/2006 9:32 AM

Hoooo Hooooooo!

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Anonymous Poster
#66

Re: Prospective Employee Reasoning Test (from"Dilbert")

10/16/2008 1:48 AM

I'd buy livestock insurance, then barbecue the chickens and blame the fox.

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