Miss Contrary

The advantages of looking at things from a new perspective

Here at home, sometimes, we play games against the rules. For instance, in chess you position your pieces so that the opponent has to capture them.

I call it being ‘Miss Contrary’ (you know, from the ‘Little Miss’ series, by Roger Hargreaves)

It’s a great way of getting more play time out of a game – in fact, we first stumbled upon this idea on a rainy day. Most of all, though, it helps us see the pitfalls to avoid when you are playing ‘the right way’.

It’s a great strategy for life, too. I apply it to my teaching, for instance.

When I design a course, I ask myself: “How can I make this course completely irrelevant for the students?”

I note down all the ideas… and, then, I make sure to avoid them at all costs 😉

Being ‘Miss Contrary’ helps me focus on the problems that I am trying to solve while avoiding the pitfalls I identified in my little ‘game’. As a bonus, I often find novel ways of dealing with old problems.

It’s the same principle used by companies that looked at old problems from a new perspective – Specsavers, Arayuvind hospital, iPhone, … They break the mould and succeed where others had failed.

This blog post about research funding bids also uses the same approach.

And this really short Ted video provides another great example of the Miss Contrary principle at work. It’s not weird. It’s just different:

I have a meeting later this week that I really, really would like to avoid. But I can’t. So, I have been playing this game with myself to find ways to make it more pleasant and useful.

I hope you have a great week. Do you have anything exciting planned?

3 thoughts on “Miss Contrary

  1. This is a great strategy. I have another one that also works. When I am planning my lectures I always think about who would the be the worst, most ignorant student that could possible be attending my class! I always come to the same conclusion…George W Bush…if I can find a strategy that helps him understand the principles of science and specially the basic principles of Evolution, than I know that all my other students will be fine!


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