Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The GHI's of Treasure Hunting - "G"

Oops! We slipped again!

"G" is for "Goofing"

This can't be a better time to write about it. We have just performed some of the more classic goofs in hunts! Fresh from the oven! Burnt on all sides! Here are areas which we have made mistakes in one hunt or another - and that every team should be aware of :

Attitude: This is a team game. We need each other. The more we engage collectively, the better. Many ideas have failed to develop into the "answers" because of failure to recognise this need. Each of us has shared roles, tasks and responsibilities - recognising that is of foremost importance. We need the right attitude for overall effectiveness.

Blind Spot: Never, never fail to look in the proximity of BIG signs - they often make the mind "skip" everything else near it. Practice to pause at every BIG word and study the nearby words. It is amazing how many times we missed looking into the "shadows".

Communication: Think aloud! Read aloud and clearly. Don't let the scribe spell your answer wrongly. Encourage, express and accept ideas. There is no such thing as a bad input - only bad use of inputs. Make sure everyone understands the strategy and communicate instructions clearly so that the tasks are correctly and thoroughly executed. One of our favourite call signs is "Talk to me!" whenever we are stuck!

Driving: Safety first of course - otherwise, can lead to delays in attending to the law enforcers or worse than that - victims of accidents. Don't forget to buckle up at the rear! Observant of landmarks, so in case of need to return to the sector - saves time. Driving style and pace must be comfortable for the rest of the team not just for yourself. Don't go into the wrong sectors! Always double check yourself or ask someone to do it for you like your navigator. Better to be sure than to go with your gut feeling.

Erasing: When using liquid paper, remember to write the correct answer when the liquid dries.
Check again the answer with other members for correct spelling or completeness.

Fumbling: Not attaching all the required sheets when submitting. Forgetting to write team number and names on every page. Failure to check if every question has an answer (one may be left blank even if you knew the answer). We have heard of the horror stories when COCs completely missed out on an entire page - someone in the marking team must have failed to identify a loose unidentified page! Leaving out or putting in the wrong treasures into the bag!

Guessing: Never be afraid to guess if everything else fails. But do guess intelligently not just a wild shot, to improve your chances like applying the "2 out of 3" rule.

Hungry: Do not let the team members be thirsty or hungry. It distracts them. The brain uses a lot of energy - to starve is also to be starved of ideas. Always have something light to eat and have a good supply of bottled water in the car. However, do not stop to sit down in a shop to eat or drink. Always take-away and do it quickly.

Innovation: Don't be shy with creative ideas. When you cannot find a treasure, think of ways to invent one.

Jumping To Conclusion: Test each possibility with every word on the question. Don't just because someone in the team sounds convincing, the team concludes that must be the answer. Be objective. Question the obvious!

Knowledge Is Power: Treasure Hunt opens up the entire universe of knowledge. Almost every decent knowledge is target for COCs to use. Make sure you are armed to the teeth at every hunt. The best tool is any device that can "google" or has built-in dictionaries and thesauruses. And most importantly, do not be lazy in using it. Very often, we don't check a word, just because we think we already know its meaning - as we discovered painfully, there are many more meanings that we are not aware of.

Loo Stops: Don't ignore the power of the full bladder. It can wreck the brain, amongst other things in life! But be smart about it - minimise the number of stops, maximise the number stopping!

Manners: Often we forget them in our rush to perform a task, get to a location or scanning the signs. We then incur the wrath of by-standers and other road-users. If they just raise a fist at you - that's harmless, but when they stop you to "ask for a fight" - that's trouble! So, don't invite trouble even if they invite you!

Navigation: Some drivers love to navigate by themselves. Most still require another team member to navigate. In the case of the former, the team must always be aware of symptoms of wrong sector (like 3 qs in a row - no possibilities sighted at all). In the case of the latter, it is safer but pre-occupies one more person from helping with other tasks. Errors in navigation happen to even the most seasoned. Over time, one learns to mitigate even tulip errors by COCs (which still happens)!

Omission: Especially supporting words to prove that you have sighted the sign and did not "tembak". It is common for team members to debate at almost every sign - "to add it or not"? "Play it safe" is the best policy to follow but also be careful you don't overdo it - COCs penalise both ways! Knowing the COC's preferences helps a lot here.

Pretending: Act like you did not see the answer, so you don't give it away, not even the general location of the answer - that's a skill and a discipline. Failure to do this well, gives you that "wasted" feeling and can haunt you for a long, long while especially if that was what made the difference between you and the team above you in the final standings. Don't forget to hide your treasures including where you got them from.

Quiting: Learn to quit from a sector or drop a question when your team just do not seem to get it. It is the usual bane of most masters - they never learn to let go. And worse yet, over the years, they get more and more confident and take more risk with it! The better way is to take down KIVs and hope you can solve them later.

Reading Signs: When reading out signs to team members to write down, be very, very clear - spelling it out is best. Devise sign-codes for your team so as to avoid ambiguities or mis-heard words. Point out the special features of the signs like wrong spellings, English or Malay version, hyphenated or underscored, colon or semi-colon (many still don't know the difference between these) and any other punctuations. E.g.s of difficult words : salon, saloon; centre, center; cafe, kafe and so on.

Silence: Keeping quiet is not a suitable trait for treasure hunting. If you have a thought, share it. If you see something, read it. If you are working on something and you are stuck - share it anyway - someone else may just be able to unstuck it for you. Also, remember, ideas grow on ideas!

Turning Back: All teams will turn back at least once. The trouble is in the agreement on the number of times one should keep turning back. The guide is every person in the car must get an equal chance to look through both sides of a road. Usually, this is a problem for the back-seaters. Swap places if necessary. Or get out of the car and walk. In any case, after 2 turn-backs, start recording KIVs (or take pictures) for use later. When your team begins to decide not to turn back anymore - you know you are seriously running behind! Time to re-think about how to tackle the rest of the route!

Unity: Once a decision is made - the team has given up its rights to apportion blame should failure follow. Learn to agree to disagree. This is one of the key ingredients for a team to stay hunting together. Don't let "professional quarrels" break up friendship and thus an otherwise "working team"!

Verifying: Always do an audit of all answer sheets and physical treasures. Mistakes continue to be detected by COCs at every hunt. It does take the time and effort of another member, so do plan well for it and do it well.

Writing: Write clearly. Don't let the COC try to guess what you wrote. Write completely and write to the point. Make sure every part of the clue is covered by your answer. Sometimes, we are not confident that the COC will accept an answer which in our opinion "fits perfectly", so we resort to writing a "thesis" to explain. It helps.

X Is Ten: This is one of the most common omissions in solving a clue. Remember to expand roman numerals and vice versa and substitute them into the "equation" to try solve them.

Yesteryears' Questions: Get them somehow. Always spend time looking over past year questions from the same COC. They give you insight into their preferences and styles. It sometimes also say something about the level of difficulty the COC is capable or not capable of. It is strange, but most COCs seem to have run out of ideas! Let them surprise us in the years to come! Familiarity may not help, but unfamiliarity certainly does not.

Zero Penalty: Avoid penalty points by all means. Plan your hunt well and you will.

Don't say, we have not warned you! Good Luck! And even better luck in how you handle your mistakes! If you care to, please share yours with us! We hope to learn too!

THat's G ... I Hope I still Have tHings to sHare after all tHese!

No comments: