The Mystery of Memory, Morse Code and Team Work

Morse Code-100
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Memory, Morse Code and Team Work!

Really, what’s the connection? And Morse code? What is today’s world are we doing with Morse code? In this new age of communication?

Isn’t it that thing we saw in those black and white and James Bond movies (well, James Bond movies have moved on to futuristic communication stuff). And team work for God’s sake!!! There is absolutely no connection.

But we certainly did find a beautiful connection in more ways than one at our continuous learning session. Thanks to Prithashree and a bigger thank you to Sakshi, our HR Executive. Here is how the connection started for us.

We have walked some way through our continuous learning sessions. So from all that art and craft, sports and fitness, games and activities, we are now in that phase of learning where we can all put in a request for a certain topic and someone who knows or is an expert in that topic picks it up to lead the session. To cut to the chase, Sakshi picked up the request and led this very interesting session. Little did we know what we were in for at the session! But let me tell you, it was not just interesting but very informative in many ways.

Sakshi, in Sanskrit script, literally means “observer” or “eyewitness.” In Hinduism and related religions, Sakshi Vinayaka is an epithet of Ganesha, God of Knowledge. The ancient roots of Sakshi associate the word with a cosmic intelligence, perception and enlightenment. Then there is our Sakshi. Extremely extrovert, you will always see her having fun with us, her colleagues. But she also knows where to draw the line when it comes to work. That time she just goes dead serious. Sakshi is great at creating the perfect work-life balance and does it beautifully with her own. We have also given her the epithet of “Soul of Our Office” as she has created a good and friendly environment at work. And at this session, true to the meaning of her name, she brought in enlightenment.

Back to the activity – we were all in for a pleasant surprise. Who knew that the Morse code could sharpen memory! Or you could play brain games with it! For the new generation,Morse code could actually be from another era. Not so long ago, messages were carried on horseback. Then on May 24th, 1844, that changed. On that day, Samuel Morse sent a message from Washington to Baltimore by telegraph through Morse code. Though the telegraph has gone out of fashion now, Morse code is still in use among radio enthusiasts as well as the armed forces across the world. And we too joined this list with our session.

Before I tell you the inside out of the game, there is a reason why Sakshi chose this activity for our session (apart from Prithashree’s request). She found this game called Brain-Basher (after rolling around some other number games in her mind) and immediately took a liking for it. Sakshi is fond of all things that fall under the category: Mystery. Mysterious movies, games, coding and the unravelling of these codes – she loves them all. So, it really a no brainer why she fell for this Morse code activity. She was also pumped up on the assumption that no one could to solve this exciting game in the time allocated. Little did she how much we were going to enjoy deciphering the Morse code she put to us.

The game was simple if you could use that word. Sakshi gave us a sheet, which had 10 names written in Morsecode. These were the names of animals. Because she thought we would have a difficult time deciphering it, she divided us into two teams. To decipher the names of animals, she had also put down the Morse code for each alphabet. And the game started. We were all immediately at it. We worked at it all ways. As individuals, as pairs, as teams to decipher it. Since we were novices in Morse code, we had to go back and forth to the names and to then to the alphabets and back again.

It was also funny for us – we not only had to think of deciphering it, but we also had to remember the names of the animals that we were taught in what – kindergarten! Definitely a fun and funny way to walk down memory lane and back to school. It was like all these adults sitting in their kindergarten benches trying to remember the names of animals and trying to solve these puzzles like some detectives at work. LOL!We were not about to back out (even if we had to go back to kindergarten to think about the animal names). Both teams made it a tie – we got each and every animal that Sakshi had put down in Morse code except for two – Weasel and Aardvark (well, they were kind of not-so-easy).

You know how these mystery stories unwind? You would know if you have read through Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew back in your teenage years. You find a clue to solve one of the mysteries, but it unravels more mysteries in its wake. This was one such session for us. While unravelling the mystery of those animal names, we also unravelled the mystery of what team-building and bonding is all about. We have been through so many activities in our past continuous learning sessions, but nothing was akin to this one when it came to working as a team.

It was a different kind of enlightenment. The adrenalin was high – all of us recognized it – we worked as a team. That was the biggest learning we all took home apart from the brain bashing and sharpening our memory like the edge of a knife. That was the key take away for each one us as we discussed the activity, the strategies, the learning and the fun we had. It was also about emotions. Some of us, like Shubham, walked back to that kindergarten class to gather the names of animals – that is oh-so-much at the tip of the tongue but elusive at the same time – into the folds of our memory. For others, like Avinash, it brought back the lessons and games in developing that involves encoding and decoding. Same for Blessy, who revisited her favorite subject at college.

We also discussed strategies. We always do that after these sessions – there is a lot to learn from it. What strategy each team followed, the winning notes of that strategy, the failures, the issues and problems that we faced – everything. There is a wealth of knowledge that we get from this kind of sharing that we use it in our day to day activities. After all, it was a brain basher activity – we had to discuss the brainy stuff that we applied to these activities.

Bhushan liked the activity a lot – there were multiple learnings for him – how the team works, how each team member thinks, the timing factor, the strategy and how the strategy is put to use and the observation powers. For Yogita, the Morse codes did cause a little trouble as she didn’t know it (and man, it does take some learning) and had to go back and forth to solve the puzzle. But yes, she loved the game because it exercised her memory. She also discussed how they worked on the task individually, then divided the task between themselves and then put their heads together to work on it.

Pranjal also faced the same issue as Shubham – in fact, their team did – they forgot the names of animals and had to jog their memory back to school. She and her team started solving it together, but then divided it to fasten the process. For a couple of team members the paper was blurred and that caused a little problem with getting to the results quickly, but they enjoyed the activity. Shubham knew that he couldn’t remember the names of the animals so he followed the strategy about which words formed from which alphabets and tried to unravel the Morse codes. Some of the team members like Prajakta and Astha all followed one easy strategy – they tried to unravel the first and last alphabets or tried counting the number of alphabets and then tried to find animal names that would fit in those parameters – funny way, but it did work.

Vivek had a lot to say about the activity. According to him, this activity was a perfect example of how a team could work together to achieve greater results than one individual could have achieved. He felt that any one person couldn’t have done this activity alone. It required multiple hands, multiple skills and people to take different roles. And it was equally split between the team members of their team. He went on to discuss the strategy they followed and how they started using various permutation and combination to get to the answers.

Vivek also said that it resembles real life – are so many choices available and permutation/combination of those choices result into something more meaning. He went on to explain that they quickly started decoding using various permutation/combination. It was too laborious to find out all possible permutation/combination and the only way to solve the problem is to smartly guess. He also had something to say about the two names that they couldn’t solve were the words that they didn’t know. He compared it with sales meeting – like they know some people will never buy and it never makes sense put energy and efforts to make them buy. He gave the example of Apple – 4 out of 5 people will never buy Apple products – but then that doesn’t mean they stop. It made sense to move on the new and other clients. For him, the activity brought out the essence of a team. As we wound up the activity, there was that positivity and that renewed energy within the team, the relaxation that comes from strenuous exercising – in this case, the brain, the laughter and teamwork that brings camaraderie to fore and the emotion that no matter what, we have each other’s back as a team. Thank you Sakshi! you gifted us much more than a sharp memory this time!

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