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14 Great Exercises to Solve Problems as a Team


Everyone should learn to solve problems, as this is important in both private and professional life. Problems occur everywhere around us and many people react with spontaneous emotions. Instead, the effective use of problem-solving skills can lead to rational thinking, which is part of any successful business. Help your team to develop strategies and react quickly to any obstacles that stand in the way of your project goals.

After recognizing the problem, the team must determine possible approaches, and then select the best one to solve the problem. The purpose of a problem solving exercise is to identify the strengths of the team members and build skills and strategies around the complexities of problem solving - while having fun with your team!

We have put together 14 problem solving exercises for teams to help solve complex problems better. The exercises also promote cooperation, cohesion and communication within the team.

1. Building a Tower

You require: raw spaghetti, crepe tape, string and marshmallows.

Divide the participants into several teams and ask them to build a tower as tall as possible within 15 minutes using the materials provided. The marshmallow should be placed on top of the tower. The team with the highest tower wins. This exercise promotes cooperation and cohesion within the team.

2. Completing Tasks

You require: various items

Divide the participants into two teams and give each team a task list. The difficulty of the tasks increases as the process progresses. Start with the simplest task and place the most difficult task at the end of the list. Possible tasks are:

  • Write a hundred words of poetry about a specific topic.
  • Find an object that's easily available in the area you're playing in.
  • Drink a whole can or a glass of liquid.
  • Solve a Sudoku or crossword puzzle.
  • Write down all the lyrics of a song (for example, a children's song or a Christmas song).

3. Scavenger Hunt

You require: various items

Hide multiple items in a room, each containing a hint to the next item. Divide participants into two teams and give each team a list of items to find. Ask them to go on a scavenger hunt and find each item. Each item found will give a clue to another until the list is complete. The first team to find all items wins.

4. Protect the Egg

You require: 1 box of eggs and some building materials (newspapers, straws, tape, plastic wrap, balloons, rubber bands, ice sticks etc.)

Each team receives an egg and chooses something from the building materials to construct a carrier for the egg within 20 minutes so that the egg is protected against breakage. Now drop each egg carrier from a ledge (from a high table or another floor) to see whose carrier is protecting the egg. If several eggs remain healthy, increase the fall height until only one egg is left. This exercise promotes cooperation and decision making.

5. Escape the Room

Another exercise that can improve teamwork is getting out of a locked room. For this exercise you will need a rope, a key, a room and some hints or puzzles. Lock the team members in a room and ask them to find clues hidden in the room. One clue leads to the next and with the last one they find the key to leave the room.

Professional Escape Rooms are now available in many cities.

6. Stranded

Give your team the following scenario: You are stranded in the office, the doors are locked. Smashing doors or smashing windows is not an option. The team now has 30 minutes to decide what 10 items they need in the office to survive, in order of importance. The objective of the game is for everyone to have agreed on 10 items and a ladder at the end of the time.

7. Reverse Pyramid

Tell the team members to stand horizontally in a pyramid shape. Now force them to rotate the base and vertex of the pyramid by simply moving three people. It's a great exercise, especially when you have a lot of small teams competing. It will clearly show which team is better at creating an inverted pyramid faster. The team that does that wins. This exercise contributes to adaptability and collaboration.

Exercises for Problem Solving in a Team

8. Minefield

In this activity, all objects such as chairs, water bottles, bags and boxes are distributed in an empty room in such a way that the participants cannot get from one end of the room to the other without having to avoid it. Each team consists of two members who are blindfolded. The person who sees everything should direct their blind partner through instructions from one end of the room to the other without touching any of the objects. This exercise improves communication and collaboration between team members.

9. Frostbite

You require: various building materials (foil, tape, string), an electric fan and a blindfold.

Form teams of five and let each team choose a leader to lead them. Each team should now build a shelter with the building material within half an hour. The leaders cannot physically help their teams because they have 'frostbite'. On the other hand, the team members have snow blindness. After 30 minutes, turn on the fan to see which shelter is blown away and which is not. The team building a shelter that can withstand the wind from the fan wins. This exercise improves your decision-making ability and shows your team how to adapt to different situations.

10. Human circle

All participants form a circle. Now each takes two other people by the hand, but they are not standing next to him. When all are knotted in this way, the knot is to be loosened and a perfect circle is to be formed. However, the two hands must not be released when unraveling. Such group problem solving exercises will help your team to adapt to the situation.

11. The Shrinking Area

You require: Rope - alternatively a blanket or a tape

This exercise promotes the adaptability of the team. Use the rope to mark a shape in which all participants have sufficient space. The team stands in there. Reduce the area slowly. All participants will have to work together to find out how everyone can stay within the shrinking boundaries.

12. Lego building

You require: Lego bricks

Divide them all into small teams of 2 or more members. Choose a game master who doesn't belong to any team and builds something out of Lego bricks within 10 minutes. The other teams will then have 15 minutes to rebuild the structure (including size and color), but only one member from each group can view it. This member must find a way to teach their team the size, color, and shape of the entity. However, they may not help build or touch their team's structure. This exercise emphasizes the importance of clear communication.

13. Change of Position

You require: chalk, rope, tape or paper (something to mark an area)

Instruction: Divide your group into two teams and line them up front to back so that they face each other. Use the chalk, tape, rope or paper (depending on the playing surface) to mark a square for each person on which they stand and a single empty space between the two rows. The aim is for the two opposite rows to change places. The possibilities of movement are limited as follows:

  • Only one person is allowed to move at a time.
  • Nobody is allowed to move around a person who looks in the same direction.
  • No one is allowed to move backwards.
  • No one may move around more than one person from the other team.
    This exercise promotes adaptability and teamwork.

14. Stupidest Idea First

"Stupid" ideas are sometimes the best ideas. Ask everyone to come up with the stupidest solution to the existing problem. After making a long list this way, go through it and pick one that might not be so stupid after all. This exercise helps solve a problem quickly.

Instead of packing the individual solutions into a long list, you can of course collect them in one Mindmap. So you can start the implementation immediately after brainstorming.

Posted by Stefanie Blome on November 15th, 2019 under Project Management
Tags: problem-solving teamwork. communication

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