Managers' Library Home

Problem Solving Training Activities


An Eggs-acting Challenge


Time required:

30 minutes.

What it does:

A problem solving challenge that tests a teams ability to work together to solve a problem and refine and improve their approach.

You will need:

Each team will need two postal tubes (stoppers removed), two golf balls, six eggs and a flipchart pen. You will also need plenty of clear space for the activity and a way of marking the start and finish of the race track.

In a nutshell:

Which team will work well together and come up with a winning strategy for getting their eggs over the finish line first?

Colour Confusion


Time required:

15 minutes.

What it does:

A fun training exercise designed to re-energise a group and also explore how individuals can work more effectively together.

You will need:

One set of the playing pieces per team (you will need to cut them out beforehand) and also the PowerPoint slides provided.

In a nutshell:

A fun game; which of your team members will be the best at spotting when the words and the colours match? Which team creates the best strategy for success?

Colour Confusion for Accuracy


Time required:

15 minutes.

What it does:

A fun training activity designed to explore how accurate team members are when under pressure.


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This is a more demanding version of the basic Colour Confusion activity. It can be used with people who have tried the more basic version.


You will need:

One complete set of Name, Colour and Shape cards per team cut out from the template provided. 

You will also need the PowerPoint slides provided.


In a nutshell:

Who is the most accurate in this colour, shape and word challenge?

Creative Brainstorming


Time required:

30 minutes.

What it does:

Develops your team’s brainstorming skills. It has the added benefit of exploring what changes your team would like to see within your department and how to make them possible.


flagThis exercise can be run as a stand-alone exercise on brainstorming, or as part of a session looking to develop the continuous improvement skills of your team. If you choose the latter, it is recommended that you follow this activity up with Plan a Change.


You will need:

Flipchart, paper and pens and enough green sticky dots for all team members to have three each. (If you can't source these, a green marker pen will do.)


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Mr Sketch Scented Markers can be purchased from Trainers' Market.


In a nutshell:

Generate as many ideas as possible to improve your team’s performance and then look for ways to make the impossible possible.

Creative Drawing


Time required:

30 minutes.

What it does:

The first step to solving a problem is articulating it and this is a creative way for your team to share their workplace challenges. Designed to be run at the start of a session to encourage your team to take a more creative approach to problem solving.

You will need:

Each member of staff will need A4 paper and pens/pencils to draw with.
Ideally, each member of staff will have a blindfold - though this is optional.


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Blindfolds can be purchased from Trainers' Market.


In a nutshell:

Can you draw your challenge without seeing it?

Distracting Assumptions


Time required:

15 minutes.

What it does:

Explores the impact of assumptions on how we think.

You will need:

The PowerPoint slide from the Resources tab to show the riddle. Alternatively you can write it up in advance on a flipchart.

In a nutshell:

How do our assumptions get in the way of solving a very simple problem?


flagCheck out the PowerPoint slide and see if you can solve the riddle before you discover the answer. A small clue for you is that the answer is not smoke inhalation.

Drawing Upon Questions


Time required:

25 minutes.

What it does:

Demonstrates the importance of asking the right questions when seeking to gain an understanding of the viewpoint of others.

You will need:

Paper and drawing equipment for each of your team members. Plus you will need a copy of the pictures provided to use in the exercise.

In a nutshell:

Can your team ask the right questions in order to get a clear picture?

Extra Colour Confusion for Teams


Time required:

15 minutes.

What it does:

A fun exercise to explore how individuals within teams respond to stress and how they can work more effectively together.

You will need:

One set of Shape Name Cards per team (you will need to cut them out beforehand) and the PowerPoint showing each of the challenges from the Resources tab.

In a nutshell:

Which team creates the best strategy for success when tasked with matching colours and words?

Fitting In


Time required:

10 minutes.

What it does:

A short energiser exercise designed to improve teamwork or problem solving.

You will need:

One set of the Shape Cards per 16 participants.

In a nutshell:

Can your team make a perfect square from the puzzle pieces given to them?

Getting an Accurate Picture - Attention to Detail


Time required:

15 minutes.

What it does:

Tests how good participants' attention to detail is. It also looks to see how persistent and patient they are.

You will need:

A printed copy of the Getting an Accurate Picture handout for each participant/team.

You will need a copy of the answer sheet.


In a nutshell:

Who can spot the differences that no one else notices?

Hexagon Shuffle


Time required:

15 minutes.

What it does:

Energising exercise designed to get your team working together to solve a problem.

You will need:

A set of the Hexagon Shuffle Cards.


flagYou will need to prepare the cards before running the exercise.


In a nutshell:

How quickly can your team solve the three puzzles or will a clue ‘bee’ needed?

Letters Get Better


Time required:

30 minutes.

What it does:

Each team faces a challenge designed to put their problem solving skills to the test. Help them to discover what behaviours are effective, which may cause issues, and how they can work to make sure they make continuous improvements. 


flagThis is an extended version of the Problem Solving activity The Problem with Letters. This version includes a focus on Continuous Improvement.


You will need:

The Letters Get Better game boards and letter cards (provided in the Resources tab) are needed for the activity. Each group will need a copy of each of the star challenges and a stopwatch. 

You will need a copy of the solutions.


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Stopwatches can be purchased from Trainers' Market.


In a nutshell:

Which team will succeed in creating a star shape made up of two 5-letter words, one 4-letter word and two 2-letter words from the letters they are given? 

Which teams will learn from the experience and improve their performance?

Number Fun


Time required:

20 minutes.

What it does:

A great way to share key facts and figures about your organisation or team during the induction process.

You will need:

A set of Number Fun Cards for every two to three participants. If using large numbers in the calculations, you will also need to give them a set of the Extra Cards (see the Exercise tab). Your participants will also need access to calculators.


flagYou will need to prepare the questions in advance. Full details are in the Exercise tab.


In a nutshell:

A fun and interactive way to learn key information during an induction process.

Problem Solving Quadrants


Time required:

45 minutes.

What it does:

An opportunity to reflect on the importance of addressing the problems/issues that matter and that are within your team’s capacity to resolve.

You will need:

The PowerPoint provided in the Resources tab and a flipchart paper with the grid described drawn on it. Pens and post-it notes.

In a nutshell:

Consider issues/challenges faced by the team and identify which ones to address based on the ability of the team to solve the problem and the need to do so.

Pulling in Different Directions


Time required:

20 minutes.

What it does:

Tests your team’s ability to communicate and work together to solve a simple problem.

You will need:

An open space big enough for your team members to stand in a large circle, blindfolds for all and a length of rope big enough for all members to hold as they stand in a circle.


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Blindfolds can be purchased from Trainers' Market.


In a nutshell:

Can your team complete a simple task whilst blindfolded?

The Decision Matrix


Time required:

30 minutes.

What it does:

Demonstrates how a Decision Making Matrix can help with problem solving.

You will need:

A copy of the brief and the handout from the Resources tab for each participant.


flagThere is no definitive right answer for this activity. We suggest completing the handouts yourself before running the activity so that you can compare how you would weight the criteria to how your team weights them.


In a nutshell:

Participants are introduced to a simple scoring and weighting system – Decision Matrix – enabling them to objectively evaluate a number of options against the established criteria.

The Problem with Letters


Time required:

20 minutes.

What it does:

Each team faces a challenge designed to put their problem solving skills to the test. Help them to discover what behaviours are effective, which may cause issues and how they can apply this back to the workplace.
 

flagIf you want to build an element of Continuous Improvement into this exercise, please see the extended version called Letters Get Better.


You will need:

A Problem with Letters game board and letter cards are needed for each team.

You will need a copy of the solution.


In a nutshell:

Which team will succeed in creating a star shape made up of two 5-letter words, one 4-letter word and two 2-letter words from the letters they are given?

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