Lab Notes: As always The Mirth in a Box Laboratory seeks out fun in all its various permutations. A popular distraction with the desk-bound crowd is a small metal-ball-in-maze puzzle. We decided to test several types of this crowd-pleaser to see what would work best for Mirth in Box customers.
Testing: The Mirth Testing Facility ordered four different types of mazes. One was a
solidly build, substantially-packaged metal maze with several metal balls; one was a round, plastic-covered disc with a metal bb ball inside; one was a combination of plastic half circles and metal balls; and one was a colorful and compact, 2-sided plastic maze with bb balls. (See photo!)
We gathered a dozen mid-level managers and put them on a painfully boring conference call. Unbeknownst to them, on the other side of the call, was an actor playing a long-winded colleague who was explaining pricing algorithms and talking about his two-year old child’s mealtime antics. Twelve of each of the four different maze puzzles were placed on the tables and participants were encouraged to try them out. When the hour was up, the call ended and we asked each of the participants to evaluate the mazes and choose one to keep in his or her top desk drawer.
Surprisingly, the smaller plastic maze puzzles were preferred 3 to 1. Reasons cited all involved subterfuge—they were quiet, easy to hide quickly and discreetly portable.
Conclusions: Bigger isn’t always better! When wiling away the hours most people prefer subtly over substance.