Resources: Learning

Team Puzzle Activity

  • Resource Type: Game
  • Posted On: October 16, 2017
  • Audience(s): Academics, Educators, Leaders and managers

Teamwork, Leadership, Solution-Focus

 

This experiential learning activity is a low-fidelity simulation suitable for entry-level and advanced educators and simulationists. The purpose is to foster reflection and insight about teamwork, leadership and solution-focused problem-solving. The simulation typically lasts 3-5 minutes and at least 15 minutes should be allotted for pre-briefing and debriefing for up to 4 teams.

 

Preparation:
  1. For each group of 4-6 staff, one 24-piece puzzle is required. A clock is needed to time the activity.
  2. Remove and keep the puzzle box lids nearby so that the final picture isn’t known for each puzzle, remove one center piece (marked on the back to identify the puzzle it belongs to) and hide it nearby (e.g., on your person).
  3. For more than 1 group, ideally use multiples of the same puzzle, removing the same puzzle piece from each one.

 

Activity Instructions:
  1. Provide context, rationale and expected length of time for the activity, including the debriefing.
  2. Separate staff into groups of 4-6. Designate 1 person per group as the “observer”.
  3. Each group gets a puzzle (without lid) to complete.
  4. Brief the groups: “This game allows a group to work together. Are you clear on who is in your group? There are no rules. The only objective is to complete the puzzle. You have 3 minutes to put the puzzle together starting now.”

 

Facilitator’s Notes:
  1. Groups finishing the puzzle will often ask about the missing puzzle piece. Respond along the lines of,  “If the puzzle was a resident and you were missing information needed for the resident’s care, what would you do?” This usually incites searching activities.
  2. If someone asks for the lid, picture or missing piece, give it to them. The key is for someone to ask appropriately; not just demand it or assume that you will give the missing piece. Creative individuals will sometimes look through the facilitator’s belongings without asking and we’ve never dissuaded it, as it shows risk-taking and resourcefulness.
  3. Some groups will need more than 3 minutes to complete the puzzle. Time can be extended by increments of 3-5 minutes to add pressure to the task. Some groups may not finish the puzzle during the allotted time. Use your judgment about when to wrap up the puzzle-making.
  4. Be sure to leave adequate time for debriefing – it’s key to translating learning to practice!

 

Debriefing:
  1. Ask the observer/s to comment on teamwork and interaction styles – e.g., was there a clear leader? If yes, were they elected or did they just take command?
  2. Ask the group members to comment on their role on the team. How did they contribute to getting the job done?
  3. Did group members use different strategies to put the puzzle together (e.g., edges, corners, colours, shapes or even looking at other groups)? How did that influence the group’s ability to problem-solve?
  4. Discuss if group members asked about and searched for missing information or not (picture, missing piece).
  5. Did the activity reflect their usual problem solving style at work (or in general)? What was different? What was similar?
  6. What solutions did they come up with to solve the twist to the activity? (i.e., the missing piece)
  7. How does this activity translate into day-to-day work? What can we take away from this activity?
  8. Have group members been in a situation when they were the missing puzzle piece (that prevented achievement of a goal)?

 

During debriefing, the facilitator encourages staff reflection while highlighting and positively reinforcing emerging themes:

  • Team work: common goals, effective communication (listening, wording questions and requests appropriately), collaboration, mutual respect, speaking up about information the team may need
  • Leadership: leading, following, being inclusive
  • Solution-focus: creativity, risk-taking, determination to achieve a goal

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