The one where Moriarty dies

Disclaimer: If you have not watched ‘Sherlock’ from Sunday January 15th and intend to please avoid reading this post. Otherwise crack on!


So in the climax to the second series of the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ entitled ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ the modern rivals echoed the actions of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s originals by both perishing… or did they? I must confess I was disappointed that the show’s writer didn’t hold his nerve and not reveal a living Holmes but also, despite clear visual evidence I am not convinced Moriarty is done and dusted either!

The thought that stayed with me after watching the programme and came up in a conversation over lunch with @Thinkingfox today was the notion that Moriarty was willing to take his own life to prevent Holmes from winning. The idea of success was more important to him than his own life. Fascinating…

This reminded me of a bar room conversation fairly early in my career where a senior member of the business I worked for floated the notion of ‘success at all costs’. The debate that ensued (albeit stoked with more drinks) got very heated and whilst people’s individual values were bandied about there were a few that maintained the assertion that given the right motivation (which is a debate in itself) some people will do anything to win.

I have been fortunate enough to work with teams all over the world and in understanding the dynamics there’s an exercise a former colleague of mine introduced me to (thank you Charlotte!) which is entitled simply “The Red & Blue Game”. It is based on the Prisoner’s Dilemma which is explained in some depth here so I will not go through the detail. Essentially two teams are isolated from one another and asked to make choices that depending on the other team’s choice will result in either win/win, win/lose, lose/win, lose/lose.

On the surface the game is about cooperation and collaboration but what you soon come to realise is that the backbone of the game is all about trust. At certain points during the game meetings can be convened and the discussions that go on about who will attend, who the other team will send, what that means about what is said etc, quickly illustrates the preconceptions around individual trust levels. Also, what becomes blatant is how some people choose to win despite the clear signals it sends around the ability of others to trust them. The need to win seems to completely overtake their logic and reason in driving their decision making.

It’s a fabulous game to facilitate (palace intrigue at its finest) and one of the take outs is often how fragile a notion interpersonal and intraorganisational trust is. Just out of interest every team with only one exception in the UK played win/lose, in Hong Kong it was all win/win, Shanghai (strangely) they managed to lose/lose and in India it was 50% win/win and 50% win/lose.

But to a more important question…how the hell did Sherlock fake that death??




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5 responses to “The one where Moriarty dies

  1. It had something to do with Molly and the cyclist that hit Watson.. And possibly honey badgers but that’s mostly because they are involved in all things devious!

  2. Ben

    I’m guessing he saw the end game and had a spare body from the morgue (they were at a hospital) that he threw off knowing the impact would make identification difficult.

  3. Gail

    Moriarty had a ‘Sherlock’ mask (think back to young girl screaming at the sight of him). Sherlock knew this, took it out of moriartys pocket, put it on him (all quick as a flash of course) and chucked him off the roof. So it was actually moriarty who fell to the ground. And molly does the morgue coverup (says it was injuries from the fall that killed him, not a bloody great hole in the back of his head).

  4. Love the way games such as Prisoner’s Dilemma naturally bring out such behaviour. Thinking about your results around the world Rob, is there a team/cultural diversity argument in there? Also, I’ve never seen anyone question upfront or during the game the learning they could take or observe around them. Yet they know they are in a simulated environment to learn. What stops this happening naturally do you think?

    Back to Sherlock… were you provoking a game here?!?!

  5. Emily – seek help 😉

    Ben – agree but think Gail gives the neatest answer I’ve seen so far!

    Gail – elementary my Dear Rowe 😉 Love that!

    Dave – given the paucity of sample I would be reluctant to make sweeping judgements on what the results meant but my gut reaction was individualism vs collectivism was at play. Also there was something in relation to how that particular culture wanted to appear to me (as the foreigner but also someone of higher seniority than them). Unlike you I have seen people start to question the game as it’s being played but think there’s some conformance behaviour in terms of “well I’m here so I had better play the game”. Re: Sherlock, maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t 😉

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