Quick Tips

These small but powerful nuggets of leadership wisdom can be quickly and easily implemented in the workplace.

How to Solve a Puzzle as a Team

As I was contemplating this month’s Quick Tip, I knew I wanted to focus on Challenge the Process, and more specifically Small Wins. Then I remembered that one of the newest TLC Certified Masters, Jacqueline Brassfield, shared a great activity with me that fit the bill perfectly! So, in her honor, we are sharing with you How to Solve a Puzzle as a Team.

This activity is a fun way to focus on The Leadership Challenge Practice Challenge the Process, Small Wins, and the importance of communication and collaboration as a team. It can be carried out with a team either in-person or virtually and is perfect for groups of less than 20.

As a reminder, Small Wins include:

  • Break it down
  • Make a model
  • Keep it simple
  • Do the easy stuff first
  • Accumulate yeses
  • Experiment
  • Give feedback
  • Celebrate

For this Activity

Each person will need their own computer and need to be connected to the internet.

In Advance of Your Meeting

Go to Jigsaw Explorer, or a similar site that allows for Multiplayer Jigsaw Puzzle Games (these instructions are based on Jigsaw Explorer). Follow the instructions below to prepare for the activity. I typically create two puzzles (which will make more sense in a minute!).

  1. When you get to the website, select a puzzle that you think your team will really enjoy.
  2. Click the button – Play this Puzzle.
  3. When the puzzle populates using the menu bar in the middle of the screen, click on the waffle icon.
  4. Select the number of pieces you want to use (I suggest around 50).
  5. Click the multiple-player icon.
  6. Create a name for your puzzle then click Create Game Link.
  7. Save the link and have it on hand for your meeting.
  8. If you decide to use two separate puzzles, follow this process again and have both links on hand for your meeting.

During Your Meeting

  1. Without giving any direction on how to proceed, share the link (for puzzle #1) with each member of your team at the same time (they need to be able to just click on the link and go, so send the link in an email or place it in the chatbox if meeting virtually). Remember each person will be working independently from their computer.
    What you will likely find is each person working independently to try and solve the puzzle. (If you are a little devious like me, you can even move some of the pieces from where they have been placed back to where they were before, just to add to the confusion.)
  2. After 30 – 45 seconds ask them all to stop working on the puzzle.
  3. Ask them questions about their experience. What did they experience? Were people collaborating on solving the puzzle or working independently? Did someone change the work they had done on the puzzle without their knowledge?
  4. Share the above Small Wins concepts listed in the bullets on page one of this document.
  5. Ask your group how this experience is like working on a project with other people. Maybe even ask a few Challenge the Process Behavior questions:
    a. #28 – How did we do on anticipating and responding to change?
    b. #18 – What can we learn from this?
    c. #23 – If we had the opportunity to do it again, what milestones might we employ?
  6. After a robust discussion, tell your team you are going to work together again to solve another puzzle, but first, you are going to give them 30 seconds to plan. You might just say, do you want to take a few minutes to talk before we try this again?We are always impressed with how a team will come together to build a plan!
  7. At the end of their short discussion time, send them all the new link and give them a minute or so to re-work the puzzle using the plan they created.As an observer, you might take on the role of the “encourager,” cheering them on and celebrating successes along the way. I always love to snap a few pictures along the way. This is one of my favorites from a recent workshop.
  8. When their time is up, debrief again. How did things go this time? Was more accomplished? Why? You might even reference Small Wins again and ask, of these, which did you see us doing well as a team? Where might we need a little more work? Then ask, how do we apply this concept to the work we do as a team every day?

I would love to hear how this activity worked for you (and I will share it with Jacqueline since I stole it from her!). Email me at kimgibbons@ileadusa.com and share your experience.

Also, if you have an idea for a Quick Tip let us know. We may even feature it in an upcoming newsletter!