The Bureaucratic Maze: Detailed Information Revised: July 14, 2004

The Bureaucratic Maze: Detailed Information

There are two versions of this maze—one for four desks and one for five. The 4-desk maze should take about 20 minutes for a participant to solve (that’s the current estimate). The 5-desk maze will take about 45 minutes to solve. The 4-desk maze needs at least 4 people to run it, the 5-desk needs 5 people. You probably should use the 4-desk version unless the participants will be people interested in puzzles and games or people who are pretty bright. As a way of judging the difficulty level of the 4-desk maze, try the 4-desk, on-line program. The layout used in the on-line program is different from the layout implemented in the forms for the 4-desk maze, but these two layouts are fairly equal in difficulty.

The maze uses desks spaced anywhere on the floor. So far, the desks have been put in a U-shaped configuration. Each desk has a nameplate with the name of a department in a fictitious corporation (MegaCorp). The departments are: Human Resources, Information Management, Marketing, Corporate Compliance, and (in the 5-desk version) Employee Benefits. At each of the desks is a “bureaucrat” (that’s the people administering the maze).

You might add an additional person to act as a “greeter.” He will get people started in the maze. The greeter will hand you a form that says “Take this form to the desk labeled Human Resources.” In place of the greeter (or in addition to the greeter), we could just have a sign indicating the start of the maze and a pointer to a pile of these forms.

In the 5-desk maze, when you get to Human Resources, you hand in your form and the bureaucrat there gives you another form. This one says, “Take this form to Information Management or Marketing.” Notice that you have a choice here. If, say, you go to Marketing, you will be given a form that says, “Take this form to Corporate Compliance or Employee Benefits or Information Management.” You will continue this way from desk to desk, and if you make the right choices you will eventually receive a form that says you solved the maze.

Here are the downloads of the forms. These are files in MS Word format (specifically Word-97 for the PC):

Click here for the forms for the 4-desk maze. There are 14 forms here.

Click here for the forms for the 5-desk maze. There are 22 forms here.

After you print out a set of forms, you should take them to a print shop and get many copies of each form. Make sure the print shop does not collate the forms. You might also tell them that the forms have shaded areas and they should adjust the darkness so print in the shaded areas is clear.

How many copies you need is hard to judge. A good guess is you need copies equal to the number of expected participants multiplied by 4. We may not need that many if, while the maze runs, someone can collect the used forms from the various bureaucrats and take them back to the desks where they originated. Or maybe if you run out, you can yell, “Hey, everybody stop a minute. We have to replenish the forms.”

If you are acting as one of the “bureaucrats,” then your job is fairly simple: You accept a form from a player and then hand him a different form. What specific form you hand out depends on what desk the player just came from. This is mostly controlled by a heading at the top of each form. The heading (shown here in gray) is meant to look like bureaucratese, but we will actually use parts of it.

Suppose you are the bureaucrat at the Employee Benefits desk in the 5-desk version of the maze. A player arrives at your desk and gives you this form:

Dept. IM
Rev. 5A
 MegaCorp Interdepartmental 
Transit Authorization
Form IM-021008-M
Take this form to
Corporate Compliance
- or -
Employee Benefits

Since you are Employee Benefits, it is legal for you to accept this form. Next, you examine the Department number at the upper left. This indicates where the form originated, and it shows IM, meaning Information Management. IM is also repeated at the start of the Form number on the upper right.

At the Employee Benefits desk you have four different sets of forms, which probably should be kept in four separate piles. The specific form you give back to the player looks like this:

Dept. EB
Rev. 5A
 MegaCorp Interdepartmental 
Transit Authorization
Form EB-021008-IM
Take this form to
Corporate Compliance
- or -
Human Resources

You chose this form because the initials IM are at the end of the Form Number at the upper right. That means that you should give this form to anyone who comes from the Information Management desk. (By the way, I’m using the number in Form number as a revision date. It might be useful sometime. Its format is yymmdd.)

Here is a route map of the 4-desk maze, and here is a route map of the 5-desk maze.

You need signs of some sort to identify which desk represents which department. You don’t have to get fancy here—you can just have a piece of cardboard or piece of paper with the name of the department written on it. But if you do want to get fancy, you can put together signs like the ones at the right.

The top sign is the nameplate for one of the desks. It is made with a plastic “Desk Name Holder” that I got on-line from Office Depot, and I think it’s also in some of their stores. The item number is 710-942-903. The bottom sign is used the start of the maze. It is made with a plastic “Slanted Sign Holder,” item 710-247-411.

I printed the department names on yellow pages and inserted them into the sign holders. I used MS Publisher for this printing. If you also use Publisher, you might want to download my Publisher file. I used Word for the start sign, and here is that file. If your computer doesn’t have the font I used, or if you don’t like that font, you can, of course, change it.

Good luck with all this, and keep me informed how things are going.

Bob Abbott
2002 Fairway Drive South
Jupiter, FL 33477
Phone: 561-575-4278

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