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Turn your team into skilled problem solvers with these problem-solving strategies

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Picture this, you're handling your daily tasks at work and your boss calls you in and says, "We have a problem." 

Unfortunately, we don't live in a world in which problems are instantly resolved with the snap of our fingers. Knowing how to effectively solve problems is an important professional skill to hone. If you have a problem that needs to be solved, what is the right process to use to ensure you get the most effective solution?

In this article we'll break down the problem-solving process and how you can find the most effective solutions for complex problems.

What is problem solving? 

Problem solving is the process of finding a resolution for a specific issue or conflict. There are many possible solutions for solving a problem, which is why it's important to go through a problem-solving process to find the best solution. You could use a flathead screwdriver to unscrew a Phillips head screw, but there is a better tool for the situation. Utilizing common problem-solving techniques helps you find the best solution to fit the needs of the specific situation, much like using the right tools.

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4 steps to better problem solving

While it might be tempting to dive into a problem head first, take the time to move step by step. Here’s how you can effectively break down the problem-solving process with your team:

1. Identify the problem that needs to be solved

One of the easiest ways to identify a problem is to ask questions. A good place to start is to ask journalistic questions, like:

Who : Who is involved with this problem? Who caused the problem? Who is most affected by this issue?

What: What is happening? What is the extent of the issue? What does this problem prevent from moving forward?

Where: Where did this problem take place? Does this problem affect anything else in the immediate area? 

When: When did this problem happen? When does this problem take effect? Is this an urgent issue that needs to be solved within a certain timeframe?

Why: Why is it happening? Why does it impact workflows?

How: How did this problem occur? How is it affecting workflows and team members from being productive?

Asking journalistic questions can help you define a strong problem statement so you can highlight the current situation objectively, and create a plan around that situation.

Here’s an example of how a design team uses journalistic questions to identify their problem:

Overarching problem: Design requests are being missed

Who: Design team, digital marketing team, web development team

What: Design requests are forgotten, lost, or being created ad hoc.

Where: Email requests, design request spreadsheet

When: Missed requests on January 20th, January 31st, February 4th, February 6th

How : Email request was lost in inbox and the intake spreadsheet was not updated correctly. The digital marketing team had to delay launching ads for a few days while design requests were bottlenecked. Designers had to work extra hours to ensure all requests were completed.

In this example, there are many different aspects of this problem that can be solved. Using journalistic questions can help you identify different issues and who you should involve in the process.

2. Brainstorm multiple solutions

If at all possible, bring in a facilitator who doesn't have a major stake in the solution. Bringing an individual who has little-to-no stake in the matter can help keep your team on track and encourage good problem-solving skills.

Here are a few brainstorming techniques to encourage creative thinking:

Brainstorm alone before hand: Before you come together as a group, provide some context to your team on what exactly the issue is that you're brainstorming. This will give time for you and your teammates to have some ideas ready by the time you meet.

Say yes to everything (at first): When you first start brainstorming, don't say no to any ideas just yet—try to get as many ideas down as possible. Having as many ideas as possible ensures that you’ll get a variety of solutions. Save the trimming for the next step of the strategy. 

Talk to team members one-on-one: Some people may be less comfortable sharing their ideas in a group setting. Discuss the issue with team members individually and encourage them to share their opinions without restrictions—you might find some more detailed insights than originally anticipated.

Break out of your routine: If you're used to brainstorming in a conference room or over Zoom calls, do something a little different! Take your brainstorming meeting to a coffee shop or have your Zoom call while you're taking a walk. Getting out of your routine can force your brain out of its usual rut and increase critical thinking.

3. Define the solution

After you brainstorm with team members to get their unique perspectives on a scenario, it's time to look at the different strategies and decide which option is the best solution for the problem at hand. When defining the solution, consider these main two questions: What is the desired outcome of this solution and who stands to benefit from this solution? 

Set a deadline for when this decision needs to be made and update stakeholders accordingly. Sometimes there's too many people who need to make a decision. Use your best judgement based on the limitations provided to do great things fast.

4. Implement the solution

To implement your solution, start by working with the individuals who are as closest to the problem. This can help those most affected by the problem get unblocked. Then move farther out to those who are less affected, and so on and so forth. Some solutions are simple enough that you don’t need to work through multiple teams.

After you prioritize implementation with the right teams, assign out the ongoing work that needs to be completed by the rest of the team. This can prevent people from becoming overburdened during the implementation plan . Once your solution is in place, schedule check-ins to see how the solution is working and course-correct if necessary.

Implement common problem-solving strategies

There are a few ways to go about identifying problems (and solutions). Here are some strategies you can try, as well as common ways to apply them:

Trial and error

Trial and error problem solving doesn't usually require a whole team of people to solve. To use trial and error problem solving, identify the cause of the problem, and then rapidly test possible solutions to see if anything changes. 

This problem-solving method is often used in tech support teams through troubleshooting.

The 5 whys problem-solving method helps get to the root cause of an issue. You start by asking once, “Why did this issue happen?” After answering the first why, ask again, “Why did that happen?” You'll do this five times until you can attribute the problem to a root cause. 

This technique can help you dig in and find the human error that caused something to go wrong. More importantly, it also helps you and your team develop an actionable plan so that you can prevent the issue from happening again.

Here’s an example:

Problem: The email marketing campaign was accidentally sent to the wrong audience.

“Why did this happen?” Because the audience name was not updated in our email platform.

“Why were the audience names not changed?” Because the audience segment was not renamed after editing. 

“Why was the audience segment not renamed?” Because everybody has an individual way of creating an audience segment.

“Why does everybody have an individual way of creating an audience segment?” Because there is no standardized process for creating audience segments. 

“Why is there no standardized process for creating audience segments?” Because the team hasn't decided on a way to standardize the process as the team introduced new members. 

In this example, we can see a few areas that could be optimized to prevent this mistake from happening again. When working through these questions, make sure that everyone who was involved in the situation is present so that you can co-create next steps to avoid the same problem. 

A SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis can help you highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a specific solution. SWOT stands for:

Strength: Why is this specific solution a good fit for this problem? 

Weaknesses: What are the weak points of this solution? Is there anything that you can do to strengthen those weaknesses?

Opportunities: What other benefits could arise from implementing this solution?

Threats: Is there anything about this decision that can detrimentally impact your team?

As you identify specific solutions, you can highlight the different strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each solution. 

This particular problem-solving strategy is good to use when you're narrowing down the answers and need to compare and contrast the differences between different solutions. 

Even more successful problem solving

After you’ve worked through a tough problem, don't forget to celebrate how far you've come. Not only is this important for your team of problem solvers to see their work in action, but this can also help you become a more efficient, effective , and flexible team. The more problems you tackle together, the more you’ll achieve. 

Looking for a tool to help solve problems on your team? Track project implementation with a work management tool like Asana .

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Team Building Exercises – Problem Solving and Decision Making

Fun ways to turn problems into opportunities.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

problem solving as a team

Whether there's a complex project looming or your team members just want to get better at dealing with day-to-day issues, your people can achieve much more when they solve problems and make decisions together.

By developing their problem-solving skills, you can improve their ability to get to the bottom of complex situations. And by refining their decision-making skills, you can help them work together maturely, use different thinking styles, and commit collectively to decisions.

In this article, we'll look at three team-building exercises that you can use to improve problem solving and decision making in a new or established team.

Exercises to Build Decision-Making and Problem-Solving Skills

Use the following exercises to help your team members solve problems and make decisions together more effectively.

Exercise 1: Lost at Sea*

In this activity, participants must pretend that they've been shipwrecked and are stranded in a lifeboat. Each team has a box of matches, and a number of items that they've salvaged from the sinking ship. Members must agree which items are most important for their survival.

Download and print our team-building exercises worksheet to help you with this exercise.

This activity builds problem-solving skills as team members analyze information, negotiate and cooperate with one another. It also encourages them to listen and to think about the way they make decisions.

What You'll Need

  • Up to five people in each group.
  • A large, private room.
  • A "lost at sea" ranking chart for each team member. This should comprise six columns. The first simply lists each item (see below). The second is empty so that each team member can rank the items. The third is for group rankings. The fourth is for the "correct" rankings, which are revealed at the end of the exercise. And the fifth and sixth are for the team to enter the difference between their individual and correct score, and the team and correct rankings, respectively.
  • The items to be ranked are: a mosquito net, a can of petrol, a water container, a shaving mirror, a sextant, emergency rations, a sea chart, a floating seat or cushion, a rope, some chocolate bars, a waterproof sheet, a fishing rod, shark repellent, a bottle of rum, and a VHF radio. These can be listed in the ranking chart or displayed on a whiteboard, or both.
  • The experience can be made more fun by having some lost-at-sea props in the room.

Flexible, but normally between 25 and 40 minutes.

Instructions

  • Divide participants into their teams, and provide everyone with a ranking sheet.
  • Ask team members to take 10 minutes on their own to rank the items in order of importance. They should do this in the second column of their sheet.
  • Give the teams a further 10 minutes to confer and decide on their group rankings. Once agreed, they should list them in the third column of their sheets.
  • Ask each group to compare their individual rankings with their collective ones, and consider why any scores differ. Did anyone change their mind about their own rankings during the team discussions? How much were people influenced by the group conversation?
  • Now read out the "correct" order, collated by the experts at the US Coast Guard (from most to least important): - Shaving mirror. (One of your most powerful tools, because you can use it to signal your location by reflecting the sun.) - Can of petrol. (Again, potentially vital for signaling as petrol floats on water and can be lit by your matches.) - Water container. (Essential for collecting water to restore your lost fluids.) -Emergency rations. (Valuable for basic food intake.) - Plastic sheet. (Could be used for shelter, or to collect rainwater.) -Chocolate bars. (A handy food supply.) - Fishing rod. (Potentially useful, but there is no guarantee that you're able to catch fish. Could also feasibly double as a tent pole.) - Rope. (Handy for tying equipment together, but not necessarily vital for survival.) - Floating seat or cushion. (Useful as a life preserver.) - Shark repellent. (Potentially important when in the water.) - Bottle of rum. (Could be useful as an antiseptic for treating injuries, but will only dehydrate you if you drink it.) - Radio. (Chances are that you're out of range of any signal, anyway.) - Sea chart. (Worthless without navigational equipment.) - Mosquito net. (Assuming that you've been shipwrecked in the Atlantic, where there are no mosquitoes, this is pretty much useless.) - Sextant. (Impractical without relevant tables or a chronometer.)

Advice for the Facilitator

The ideal scenario is for teams to arrive at a consensus decision where everyone's opinion is heard. However, that doesn't always happen naturally: assertive people tend to get the most attention. Less forthright team members can often feel intimidated and don't always speak up, particularly when their ideas are different from the popular view. Where discussions are one-sided, draw quieter people in so that everyone is involved, but explain why you're doing this, so that people learn from it.

You can use the Stepladder Technique when team discussion is unbalanced. Here, ask each team member to think about the problem individually and, one at a time, introduce new ideas to an appointed group leader – without knowing what ideas have already been discussed. After the first two people present their ideas, they discuss them together. Then the leader adds a third person, who presents his or her ideas before hearing the previous input. This cycle of presentation and discussion continues until the whole team has had a chance to voice their opinions.

After everyone has finished the exercise, invite your teams to evaluate the process to draw out their experiences. For example, ask them what the main differences between individual, team and official rankings were, and why. This will provoke discussion about how teams arrive at decisions, which will make people think about the skills they must use in future team scenarios, such as listening , negotiating and decision-making skills, as well as creativity skills for thinking "outside the box."

A common issue that arises in team decision making is groupthink . This can happen when a group places a desire for mutual harmony above a desire to reach the right decision, which prevents people from fully exploring alternative solutions.

If there are frequent unanimous decisions in any of your exercises, groupthink may be an issue. Suggest that teams investigate new ways to encourage members to discuss their views, or to share them anonymously.

Exercise 2: The Great Egg Drop*

In this classic (though sometimes messy!) game, teams must work together to build a container to protect an egg, which is dropped from a height. Before the egg drop, groups must deliver presentations on their solutions, how they arrived at them, and why they believe they will succeed.

This fun game develops problem-solving and decision-making skills. Team members have to choose the best course of action through negotiation and creative thinking.

  • Ideally at least six people in each team.
  • Raw eggs – one for each group, plus some reserves in case of accidents!
  • Materials for creating the packaging, such as cardboard, tape, elastic bands, plastic bottles, plastic bags, straws, and scissors.
  • Aprons to protect clothes, paper towels for cleaning up, and paper table cloths, if necessary.
  • Somewhere – ideally outside – that you can drop the eggs from. (If there is nowhere appropriate, you could use a step ladder or equivalent.)
  • Around 15 to 30 minutes to create the packages.
  • Approximately 15 minutes to prepare a one-minute presentation.
  • Enough time for the presentations and feedback (this will depend on the number of teams).
  • Time to demonstrate the egg "flight."
  • Put people into teams, and ask each to build a package that can protect an egg dropped from a specified height (say, two-and-a-half meters) with the provided materials.
  • Each team must agree on a nominated speaker, or speakers, for their presentation.
  • Once all teams have presented, they must drop their eggs, assess whether the eggs have survived intact, and discuss what they have learned.

When teams are making their decisions, the more good options they consider, the more effective their final decision is likely to be. Encourage your groups to look at the situation from different angles, so that they make the best decision possible. If people are struggling, get them to brainstorm – this is probably the most popular method of generating ideas within a team.

Ask the teams to explore how they arrived at their decisions, to get them thinking about how to improve this process in the future. You can ask them questions such as:

  • Did the groups take a vote, or were members swayed by one dominant individual?
  • How did the teams decide to divide up responsibilities? Was it based on people's expertise or experience?
  • Did everyone do the job they volunteered for?
  • Was there a person who assumed the role of "leader"?
  • How did team members create and deliver the presentation, and was this an individual or group effort?

Exercise 3: Create Your Own*

In this exercise, teams must create their own, brand new, problem-solving activity.

This game encourages participants to think about the problem-solving process. It builds skills such as creativity, negotiation and decision making, as well as communication and time management. After the activity, teams should be better equipped to work together, and to think on their feet.

  • Ideally four or five people in each team.
  • Paper, pens and flip charts.

Around one hour.

  • As the participants arrive, you announce that, rather than spending an hour on a problem-solving team-building activity, they must design an original one of their own.
  • Divide participants into teams and tell them that they have to create a new problem-solving team-building activity that will work well in their organization. The activity must not be one that they have already participated in or heard of.
  • After an hour, each team must present their new activity to everyone else, and outline its key benefits.

There are four basic steps in problem solving : defining the problem, generating solutions, evaluating and selecting solutions, and implementing solutions. Help your team to think creatively at each stage by getting them to consider a wide range of options. If ideas run dry, introduce an alternative brainstorming technique, such as brainwriting . This allows your people to develop one others' ideas, while everyone has an equal chance to contribute.

After the presentations, encourage teams to discuss the different decision-making processes they followed. You might ask them how they communicated and managed their time . Another question could be about how they kept their discussion focused. And to round up, you might ask them whether they would have changed their approach after hearing the other teams' presentations.

Successful decision making and problem solving are at the heart of all effective teams. While teams are ultimately led by their managers, the most effective ones foster these skills at all levels.

The exercises in this article show how you can encourage teams to develop their creative thinking, leadership , and communication skills , while building group cooperation and consensus.

* Original source unknown. Please let us know if you know the original source.

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14 Best Team Building Problem Solving Group Activities For 2024

The best teams see solutions where others see problems. A great company culture is built around a collaborative spirit and the type of unity it takes to find answers to the big business questions.

So how can you get team members working together?

How can you develop a mentality that will help them overcome obstacles they have yet to encounter?

One of the best ways to improve your teams’ problem solving skills is through team building problem solving activities .

“86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.” — Bit.AI

These activities can simulate true-to-life scenarios they’ll find themselves in, or the scenarios can call on your employees or coworkers to dig deep and get creative in a more general sense.

The truth is, on a day-to-day basis, you have to prepare for the unexpected. It just happens that team building activities help with that, but are so fun that they don’t have to feel like work ( consider how you don’t even feel like you’re working out when you’re playing your favorite sport or doing an exercise you actually enjoy! )

Team Building Problem Solving Group Activities

What are the benefits of group problem-solving activities?

The benefits of group problem-solving activities for team building include:

  • Better communication
  • Improved collaboration and teamwork
  • More flexible thinking
  • Faster problem-solving
  • Better proactivity and decision making

Without further ado, check out this list of the 14 best team-building problem-solving group activities for 2024!

Page Contents (Click To Jump)

Popular Problem Solving Activities

1. virtual team challenge.

Virtual Team Challenges are popular problem-solving activities that involve a group of people working together to solve an issue. The challenge generally involves members of the team brainstorming, discussing, and creating solutions for a given problem.

Participants work both individually and collaboratively to come up with ideas and strategies that will help them reach their goals.

Why this is a fun problem-solving activity: Participants can interact and communicate with each other in a virtual environment while simultaneously engaging with the problem-solving activities. This makes it an enjoyable experience that allows people to use their creative thinking skills, build team spirit, and gain valuable insights into the issue at hand.

Problem-solving activities such as Virtual Team Challenges offer a great way for teams to come together, collaborate, and develop creative solutions to complex problems.

2. Problem-Solving Templates

Problem-Solving Templates are popular problem-solving activities that involve a group of people working together to solve an issue. The challenge generally involves members of the team utilizing pre-made templates and creating solutions for a given problem with the help of visual aids.

This activity is great for teams that need assistance in getting started on their problem-solving journey.

Why this is a fun problem-solving activity: Problem-Solving Templates offer teams an easy and stress-free way to get the creative juices flowing. The visual aids that come with the templates help team members better understand the issue at hand and easily come up with solutions together.

This activity is great for teams that need assistance in getting started on their problem-solving journey, as it provides an easy and stress-free way to get the creative juices flowing.

Problem Solving Group Activities & Games For Team Building

3. coworker feud, “it’s all fun and games”.

Coworker Feud is a twist on the classic Family Feud game show! This multiple rapid round game keeps the action flowing and the questions going. You can choose from a variety of customizations, including picking the teams yourself, randomized teams, custom themes, and custom rounds.

Best for: Hybrid teams

Why this is an effective problem solving group activity: Coworker Feud comes with digital game materials, a digital buzzer, an expert host, and a zoom link to get the participants ready for action! Teams compete with each other to correctly answer the survey questions. At the end of the game, the team with the most competitive answers is declared the winner of the Feud.

How to get started:

  • Sign up for Coworker Feud
  • Break into teams of 4 to 10 people
  • Get the competitive juices flowing and let the games begin!

Learn more here: Coworker Feud

4. Crack The Case

“who’s a bad mamma jamma”.

Crack The Case is a classic WhoDoneIt game that forces employees to depend on their collective wit to stop a deadly murderer dead in his tracks! Remote employees and office commuters can join forces to end this crime spree.

Best for: Remote teams

Why this is an effective problem solving group activity: The Virtual Clue Murder Mystery is an online problem solving activity that uses a proprietary videoconferencing platform to offer the chance for employees and coworkers to study case files, analyze clues, and race to find the motive, the method, and the individual behind the murder of Neil Davidson.

  • Get a custom quote here
  • Download the app
  • Let the mystery-solving collaboration begin!

Learn more here: Crack The Case

5. Catch Meme If You Can

“can’t touch this”.

Purposefully created to enhance leadership skills and team bonding , Catch Meme If You Can is a hybrid between a scavenger hunt and an escape room . Teammates join together to search for clues, solve riddles, and get out — just in time!

Best for: Small teams

Why this is an effective problem solving group activity: Catch Meme If You Can is an adventure with a backstory. Each team has to submit their answer to the puzzle in order to continue to the next part of the sequence. May the best team escape!

  • The teams will be given instructions and the full storyline
  • Teams will be split into a handful of people each
  • The moderator will kick off the action!

Learn more here: Catch Meme If You Can

6. Puzzle Games

“just something to puzzle over”.

Puzzle Games is the fresh trivia game to test your employees and blow their minds with puzzles, jokes , and fun facts!

Best for: In-person teams

Why this is an effective problem solving group activity: Eight mini brain teaser and trivia style games include word puzzles, name that nonsense, name that tune, and much more. Plus, the points each team earns will go towards planting trees in the precious ecosystems and forests of Uganda

  • Get a free consultation for your team
  • Get a custom designed invitation for your members
  • Use the game link
  • Dedicated support will help your team enjoy Puzzle Games to the fullest!

Learn more here: Puzzle Games

7. Virtual Code Break

“for virtual teams”.

Virtual Code Break is a virtual team building activity designed for remote participants around the globe. Using a smart video conferencing solution, virtual teams compete against each other to complete challenges, answer trivia questions, and solve brain-busters!

Why this is an effective problem solving group activity: Virtual Code Break can be played by groups as small as 4 people all the way up to more than 1,000 people at once. However, every team will improve their communication and problem-solving skills as they race against the clock and depend on each other’s strengths to win!

  • Reach out for a free consultation to align the needs of your team
  • An event facilitator will be assigned to handle all of the set-up and logistics
  • They will also provide you with logins and a play-by-play of what to expect
  • Sign into the Outback video conferencing platform and join your pre-assigned team
  • Lastly, let the games begin!

Learn more here: Virtual Code Break

8. Stranded

“survivor: office edition”.

Stranded is the perfect scenario-based problem solving group activity. The doors of the office are locked and obviously your team can’t just knock them down or break the windows.

Why this is an effective problem solving group activity: Your team has less than half an hour to choose 10 items around the office that will help them survive. They then rank the items in order of importance. It’s a bit like the classic game of being lost at sea without a lifeboat.

  • Get everyone together in the office
  • Lock the doors
  • Let them start working together to plan their survival

Learn more here: Stranded

9. Letting Go Game

“for conscious healing”.

The Letting Go Game is a game of meditation and mindfulness training for helping teammates thrive under pressure and reduce stress in the process. The tasks of the Letting Go Game boost resiliency, attentiveness, and collaboration.

Why this is an effective problem solving group activity: Expert-guided activities and awareness exercises encourage team members to think altruistically and demonstrate acts of kindness. Between yoga, face painting, and fun photography, your employees or coworkers will have more than enough to keep them laughing and growing together with this mindfulness activity!

  • Reach out for a free consultation
  • A guide will then help lead the exercises
  • Let the funny videos, pictures, and playing begin!

Learn more here: Letting Go Game

10. Wild Goose Chase

“city time”.

Wild Goose Chase is the creative problem solving activity that will take teams all around your city and bring them together as a group! This scavenger hunt works for teams as small as 10 up to groups of over 5000 people.

Best for: Large teams

Why this is an effective group problem solving activity: As employees and group members are coming back to the office, there are going to be times that they’re itching to get outside. Wild Goose Chase is the perfect excuse to satisfy the desire to go out-of-office every now and then. Plus, having things to look at and see around the city will get employees talking in ways they never have before.

  • Download the Outback app to access the Wild Goose Chase
  • Take photos and videos from around the city
  • The most successful team at completing challenges on time is the champ!

Learn more here: Wild Goose Chase

11. Human Knot

“for a knotty good time”.

Human-knot

The Human Knot is one of the best icebreaker team building activities! In fact, there’s a decent chance you played it in grade school. It’s fun, silly, and best of all — free!

Why this is an effective group problem solving activity: Participants start in a circle and connect hands with two other people in the group to form a human knot. The team then has to work together and focus on clear communication to unravel the human knot by maneuvering their way out of this hands-on conundrum. But there’s a catch — they can’t let go of each other’s hands in this team building exercise.

  • Form a circle
  • Tell each person to grab a random hand until all hands are holding another
  • They can’t hold anyone’s hand who is directly next to them
  • Now they have to get to untangling
  • If the chain breaks before everyone is untangled, they have to start over again

Learn more here: Human Knot

12. What Would You Do?

“because it’s fun to imagine”.

Team-building-activity

What Would You Do? Is the hypothetical question game that gets your team talking and brainstorming about what they’d do in a variety of fun, intriguing, and sometimes, whacky scenarios.

Best for: Distributed teams

Why this is an effective group problem solving activity: After employees or coworkers start talking about their What Would You Do? responses, they won’t be able to stop. That’s what makes this such an incredible team building activity . For example, you could ask questions like “If you could live forever, what would you do with your time?” or “If you never had to sleep, what would you do?”

  • In addition to hypothetical questions, you could also give teammates some optional answers to get them started
  • After that, let them do the talking — then they’ll be laughing and thinking and dreaming, too!

13. Crossing The River

“quite the conundrum”.

Crossing-the-river

Crossing The River is a river-crossing challenge with one correct answer. Your team gets five essential elements — a chicken, a fox, a rowboat, a woman, and a bag of corn. You see, the woman has a bit of a problem, you tell them. She has to get the fox, the bag of corn, and the chicken to the other side of the river as efficiently as possible.

Why this is an effective group problem solving activity: She has a rowboat, but it can only carry her and one other item at a time. She cannot leave the chicken and the fox alone — for obvious reasons. And she can’t leave the chicken with the corn because it will gobble it right up. So the question for your team is how does the woman get all five elements to the other side of the river safely in this fun activity?

  • Form teams of 2 to 5 people
  • Each team has to solve the imaginary riddle
  • Just make sure that each group understands that the rowboat can only carry one animal and one item at a time; the fox and chicken can’t be alone; and the bag of corn and the chicken cannot be left alone
  • Give the verbal instructions for getting everything over to the other side

14. End-Hunger Games

“philanthropic fun”.

Does anything bond people quite like acts of kindness and compassion? The End-Hunger Games will get your team to rally around solving the serious problem of hunger.

Best for: Medium-sized teams

Why this is an effective problem solving group activity: Teams join forces to complete challenges based around non-perishable food items in the End-Hunger Games. Groups can range in size from 25 to more than 2000 people, who will all work together to collect food for the local food bank.

  • Split into teams and compete to earn boxes and cans of non-perishable food
  • Each team attempts to build the most impressive food item construction
  • Donate all of the non-perishable foods to a local food bank

Learn more here: End-Hunger Games

People Also Ask These Questions About Team Building Problem Solving Group Activities

Q: what are some problem solving group activities.

  • A: Some problem solving group activities can include riddles, egg drop, reverse pyramid, tallest tower, trivia, and other moderator-led activities.

Q: What kind of skills do group problem solving activities & games improve?

  • A: Group problem solving activities and games improve collaboration, leadership, and communication skills.

Q: What are problem solving based team building activities & games?

  • A: Problem solving based team building activities and games are activities that challenge teams to work together in order to complete them.

Q: What are some fun free problem solving games for groups?

  • A: Some fun free problem solving games for groups are kinesthetic puzzles like the human knot game, which you can read more about in this article. You can also use all sorts of random items like whiteboards, straws, building blocks, sticky notes, blindfolds, rubber bands, and legos to invent a game that will get the whole team involved.

Q: How do I choose the most effective problem solving exercise for my team?

  • A: The most effective problem solving exercise for your team is one that will challenge them to be their best selves and expand their creative thinking.

Q: How do I know if my group problem solving activity was successful?

  • A: In the short-term, you’ll know if your group problem solving activity was successful because your team will bond over it; however, that should also translate to more productivity in the mid to long-term.

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Top 15 Problem-Solving Activities for Your Team to Master

May 27, 2022 - 10 min read

Brianna Hansen

Some people see problems as roadblocks, others see them as opportunities! Problem-solving activities are a great way to get to know how members of your team work, both individually and together. It’s important to teach your team strategies to help them quickly overcome obstacles in the way of achieving project goals.

In this article, you’ll explore 15 problem-solving activities designed to enhance collaboration and creativity. Additionally, if you want to discuss the insights and outcomes with your team after the activities, you can use Wrike’s actionable meeting notes template. This template allows you to record meeting discussions, assign action items, and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

The importance of problem-solving skills in today’s workplace

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According to a 2019  report by McKinsey , soft skills are increasingly important in today's world — and problem-solving is the top area in which skills are lacking. A company or team’s success weighs heavily on the willingness of managers to help employees improve their problem-solving abilities. Team building activities targeting focus areas like communication and collaboration, adaptability, or strengthening decision-making techniques help.

All problem-solving processes start with identifying the problem. Next, the team must assess potential courses of action and choose the best way to tackle the problem. This requires a deep understanding of your team and its core strengths. A problem-solving exercise or game helps identify those strengths and builds problem-solving skills and strategies while having fun with your team.

problem solving as a team

Problem-solving games aren't for just any team. Participants must have an open mind and accept all ideas and solutions . They must also have an Agile mindset and embrace different structures, planning, and processes. Problems usually arise when we least expect them, so there's no better way to prepare than to encourage agility and flexibility.

Another aspect to keep in mind when engaging in problem-solving games and activities: There are no winners or losers. Sure, some games might end with a single winner, but the true goal of these exercises is to learn how to work together as a team to develop an Agile mindset. The winning team of each game should share their strategies and thought processes at the end of the exercise to help everyone learn.

Here’s a list of fun problem-solving activity examples to try with your team. From blindfolds to raw eggs, these problem-solving, team-building activities will have your team solving problems faster than Scooby and the gang.

Classic team-building, problem-solving activities

1. a shrinking vessel.

Helps with: Adaptability

Why adaptability is important for problem-solving: Adaptability is highly associated with cognitive diversity, which helps teams solve problems faster , according to the Harvard Business Review. Innovation and disruption are happening faster than ever before . People, teams, and organizations that can adapt will come out on top.

What you’ll need:

  • A rope or string

Instructions:

1. Using the rope, make a shape on the floor everyone can fit into.

2. Slowly shrink the space over 10-15 minutes.

3. Work together to figure out how to keep everyone within the shrinking boundaries.

2. Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower

Helps with: Collaboration

Why collaboration is important for problem-solving: “Collectively, we can be more insightful, more intelligent than we can possibly be individually,” writes Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline . We can solve problems better as a team than we can alone, which means developing your team’s collaboration skills will lead to better problem-solving outcomes.

What you’ll need (per team):

  • 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 roll of masking tape
  • 1 yard of string
  • 1 marshmallow

1. The goal of this exercise is to see which team can use the materials provided to build the tallest tower within an allotted time period. The tower must be able to stand on its own.

2. To make this exercise more challenging, try adding a marshmallow to the top of the tower. This team problem-solving exercise helps people think on their toes while building camaraderie and leadership.

3. Egg Drop

Helps with: Collaboration, decision-making

Why decision-making is important for problem-solving: Making decisions isn’t easy , but indecision leads to team paralysis, stagnant thinking, and unsolved problems. Decision-making activities help your team practice making quick, effective choices. Train your team’s decision-making muscles and they will become more adept at problem-solving.

  • A carton of eggs
  • Basic construction materials such as newspapers, straws, tape, plastic wrap, balloons, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, etc., tarp, or drop cloth
  • A parking lot, or some other place you don’t mind getting messy!

1. Each team gets an egg and must select from the construction materials.

2. Give everyone 20-30 minutes to construct a carrier for the egg and protect it from breaking.

3. Drop each egg carrier off a ledge (i.e. over a balcony) and see whose carrier protects the egg from breaking.

4. If multiple eggs survive, keep increasing the height until only one egg is left.

4. Stranded

Helps with: Communication, decision-making

Why communication is important for problem-solving: More employees work remotely than ever before. Good communication skills are vital to solving problems across  virtual teams . Working on communication skills while your team is together will help them solve problems more effectively when they’re apart.

Here's the setting: Your team has been stranded in the office. The doors are locked, and knocking down the doors or breaking the windows is not an option. Give your team 30 minutes to decide on ten items in the office they need for survival and rank them in order of importance. The goal of the game is to have everyone agree on the ten items and their rankings in 30 minutes.

Creative problem-solving activities

Helps with: Communication

What you'll need:

1. Divide everyone into small teams of two or more.

2. Select an overseer who isn't on a team to build a random structure using Lego building blocks within ten minutes.

3. The other teams must replicate the structure exactly (including size and color) within 15 minutes. However, only one member from each group may look at the original structure. They must figure out how to communicate the size, color, and shape of the original structure to their team.

4. If this is too easy, add a rule that the member who can see the original structure can't touch the new structure.

  • A lockable room
  • 5-10 puzzles or clues (depending on how much time you want to spend on the game)

1. The goal of this exercise is to solve the clues, find the key, and escape a locked room within the time allotted.

2. Hide the key and a list of clues around the room.

3. Gather the team into the empty room and "lock" the door.

4. Give them 30 minutes to an hour to find the key using the clues hidden around the room.

7. Frostbite

Helps with: Decision-making, adaptability

  • A blindfold
  • 1 packet of construction materials (such as card stock, toothpicks, rubber bands, and sticky notes) for each team
  • An electric fan

Instructions:  Your employees are Arctic explorers adventuring across an icy tundra! Separate them into teams of four or five and have them select a leader to guide their exploration. Each team must build a shelter from the materials provided before the storm hits in 30 minutes. However, both the team leader’s hands have frostbite, so they can’t physically help construct the shelter, and the rest of the team has snow blindness and is unable to see. When the 30 minutes is up, turn on the fan and see which shelter can withstand the high winds of the storm.

8. Minefield

  • An empty room or hallway
  • A collection of common office items

1. Place the items (boxes, chairs, water bottles, bags, etc.) around the room so there's no clear path from one end of the room to the other.

2. Divide your team into pairs and blindfold one person on the team.

3. The other must verbally guide that person from one end of the room to the other, avoiding the "mines."

4. The partner who is not blindfolded can't touch the other.

5. If you want to make the activity more challenging, have all the pairs go simultaneously so teams must find ways to strategically communicate with each other.

9. Blind Formations

1. Have the group put on blindfolds and form a large circle.

2. Tie two ends of a rope together and lay it in a circle in the middle of the group, close enough so each person can reach down and touch it.

3. Instruct the group to communicate to create a shape with the rope — a square, triangle, rectangle, etc.

4. If you have a very large group, divide them into teams and provide a rope for each team. Let them compete to see who forms a particular shape quickest.

Quick and easy problem-solving activities

10. line up blind.

1. Blindfold everyone and whisper a number to each person, beginning with one.

2. Tell them to line up in numerical order without talking.

3. Instead of giving them a number, you could also have them line up numerically by height, age, birthday, etc.

11. Reverse Pyramid

Helps with: Adaptability, collaboration

1. Have everyone stand in a pyramid shape, horizontally.

2. Ask them to flip the base and the apex of the pyramid moving only three people.

3. This quick exercise works best when smaller groups compete to see who can reverse the pyramid the fastest.

12. Move It!

  • Chalk, rope, tape, or paper (something to mark a space)

1. Divide your group into two teams and line them up front to back, facing each other.

2. Using the chalk, tape, rope, or paper (depending on the playing surface), mark a square space for each person to stand on. Leave one extra empty space between the two facing rows.

3. The goal is for the two facing lines of players to switch places.

4. Place these restrictions on movement:

  • Only one person may move at a time.
  • A person may not move around anyone facing the same direction.
  • No one may not move backward.
  • A person may not move around more than one person on the other team at a time.

13. Human Knot

1. Have everyone stand in a circle, and ask each person to hold hands with two people who aren’t directly next to them.

2. When everyone is tangled together, ask them to untangle the knot and form a perfect circle — without letting go of anyone's hand.

Our last two problem-solving activities work best when dealing with an actual problem:

14. Dumbest Idea First

Helps with: Instant problem-solving

1. "Dumb" ideas are sometimes the best ideas. Ask everyone to think of the absolute dumbest possible solution to the problem at hand.

2. After you have a long list, look through it and see which ones might not be as dumb as you think.

3. Brainstorm your solutions in Wrike. It's free and everyone can start collaborating instantly!

15. What Would X Do

1. Have everyone pretend they're someone famous.

2. Each person must approach the problem as if they were their chosen famous person. What options would they consider? How would they handle it?

3. This allows everyone to consider solutions they might not have thought of originally.

Looking for more team-building and virtual meeting games? Check out these virtual icebreaker games or our  Ultimate Guide to Team Building Activities that Don't Suck.

Additional resources on problem-solving activities

  • Problem-Solving Model : Looking for a model to provide a problem-solving structure? This detailed guide gives you the tools to quickly solve any problem.
  • The Simplex Process:  Popularized by Min Basadur's book, The Power of Innovation , the Simplex Process provides training and techniques for each problem-solving stage. It helps frame problem-solving as a continuous cycle, rather than a “one and done” process.
  • Fun Problem-Solving Activities and Games : Looking for more ideas? Check out this list of interesting and creative problem-solving activities for adults and kids!
  • The Secret to Better Problem-Solving:  This article provides tips, use cases, and fresh examples to help you become a whiz at solving the toughest problems.

How to organize problem-solving activities with Wrike

If you want to make problem-solving activities more effective, consider using team collaboration software such as Wrike. 

Wrike’s pre-built actionable meeting notes template helps you keep track of meeting discussions, assign action items, and keep everyone in the loop. It’s an effective tool to streamline your problem-solving sessions and turn insights into real projects.

Brianna Hansen

Brianna Hansen

Brianna is a content marketing manager at Wrike. When she's not writing about collaboration and team building games, you'll find her in the kitchen testing out the latest recipes, sharing her favorite wine with friends, or playing with her two cats.

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Afterward, encourage them to learn from it and avoid repeating the same mistake. When communicating with an employee who has made a mistake, in-person meetings are often best. However, many teams are now made up of contractors, gig workers, and freelancers who work remotely so a physical location is not always accessible. If that’s the case, lean on digital tools to illustrate the issue.  For example, reports and individual task assignment lists from project management tools. These can also be used to prevent future mistakes, as managers can easily use them to communicate the actions and behaviors expected of team members and improve the overall work management process.  There may be times when mistakes happen over and over again. If that’s the case, the employee may be engaging in a pattern of behavior that keeps them from performing at their best. Managers can step in and provide ideas for healthy habits that will prevent the same type of mistake from cropping up again.  For example, you can ask a marketing team member to overcome a common marketing mistake of missing a content publishing deadline by writing a to-do list every day. This will help them stay on top of their tasks while also motivating them to finish their work at the same time.  In a nutshell, it’s important to understand that punishment for infrequent mistakes is unfair and ineffective. These mistakes offer opportunities to improve, which both managers and employees can embrace. How to admit a mistake in a professional environment You may end up in a situation in a professional environment where an apology is needed. And when it comes to making mistakes at work, honesty is the best policy. Certain actions can break trust, but an apology can help rebuild it.  In your explanation, it's important to detail why you acted the way you did. It shows that you care about how those around you are affected by your actions. It's important to address the person you're apologizing to by name, regardless of their status. Having an open conversation can help both of you understand the other person better, and it can prevent an insincere apology from happening. If the mistake you made affected someone personally, it's important to validate the feelings of the other person. Having the courage to admit that you're sorry can make a huge difference in how people treat you.  Take responsibility for your actions and have a plan in place for how to make amends before you approach the appropriate person or people.  Having a plan in place shows that you're thinking about how to make things right. You may even want to read about examples of taking responsibility at work and model your behavior on whichever feels appropriate for the situation.  However, don’t get carried away and make promises you can’t keep. It's important to set goals that are realistic so that you can avoid repeating the mistake.  If your apology is accepted, you can then try negotiating a solution by asking the other person to reflect on the situation and consider their feelings.  After you apologize, make a greater effort to keep your promises and not repeat the same mistake. Doing so can help improve the situation and make the other person feel more comfortable. How to learn from mistakes at work It's important to come clean and admit your mistake, but it's also important to move forward with a positive mindset. You'll most likely feel a bit down about your mistake right after it happens. But by learning from it, you can improve and become more resilient in the long run.  Start by creating a plan for improvement. If you made a minor mistake, then creating personal goals and action plans will help you put those lessons into action. You can learn a universal lesson from nearly any situation, no matter how unique it is. For example, if you learned that a mistake was made because of your forgetfulness, implementing organizational strategies to improve your memory could help. Next, keep track of progress over time in a notebook or virtual document. Be sure to note the highlights along with the lowlights. Look for patterns. As they come up, add them to your action plan or personal goals list.  Monitor whether or not these changes have led to better, more consistent outcomes. If not, adjust and keep going.  Lastly, don't be afraid to ask for help if you're unsure which strategy or tool will work best for you. Managers are there to support your performance. If you approach them with honesty and vulnerability, they’ll likely be flattered you thought to ask. They may even offer advice or make changes that will improve productivity for you and the rest of the team.  In conclusion The pressure to perform at a high level can often result in mistakes and inefficient habits. Learn from your mistakes and take ownership of them. Communicate in an open and honest manner. Ask for or provide help when needed and remember that every new mistake is also an opportunity for better performance. How Wrike can help you avoid unnecessary mistakes at work With so many files, folders, updates, and chat threads to keep track of, mistakes are easily made when you try to get through your day without a work management platform. Wrike offers a variety of features to help you stay on top of your workload easily, and avoid unnecessary confusion that can lead to mistakes at work. Full project visibility, including real-time updates and approvals, means that you can ensure every stakeholder is informed of what you're working on, with your tasks going to the correct approver every time. One shared space with over 400 app integrations means communication has never been easier, no matter where you or your team are based. And Wrike's Automation Engine allows you to streamline your processes and automate the time-consuming admin tasks that, when tackled manually, can easily be done incorrectly.  Try it out for yourself with a free two-week trial.

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Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Essential for Leaders in Any Industry

Business man leading team in problem-solving exercise with white board

  • 17 Jan 2023

Any organization offering a product or service is in the business of solving problems.

Whether providing medical care to address health issues or quick convenience to those hungry for dinner, a business’s purpose is to satisfy customer needs .

In addition to solving customers’ problems, you’ll undoubtedly encounter challenges within your organization as it evolves to meet customer needs. You’re likely to experience growing pains in the form of missed targets, unattained goals, and team disagreements.

Yet, the ubiquity of problems doesn’t have to be discouraging; with the right frameworks and tools, you can build the skills to solve consumers' and your organization’s most challenging issues.

Here’s a primer on problem-solving in business, why it’s important, the skills you need, and how to build them.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is Problem-Solving in Business?

Problem-solving is the process of systematically removing barriers that prevent you or others from reaching goals.

Your business removes obstacles in customers’ lives through its products or services, just as you can remove obstacles that keep your team from achieving business goals.

Design Thinking

Design thinking , as described by Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar in the online course Design Thinking and Innovation , is a human-centered , solutions-based approach to problem-solving and innovation. Originally created for product design, design thinking’s use case has evolved . It’s now used to solve internal business problems, too.

The design thinking process has four stages :

4 Stages of Design Thinking

  • Clarify: Clarify a problem through research and feedback from those impacted.
  • Ideate: Armed with new insights, generate as many solutions as possible.
  • Develop: Combine and cull your ideas into a short list of viable, feasible, and desirable options before building prototypes (if making physical products) and creating a plan of action (if solving an intangible problem).
  • Implement: Execute the strongest idea, ensuring clear communication with all stakeholders about its potential value and deliberate reasoning.

Using this framework, you can generate innovative ideas that wouldn’t have surfaced otherwise.

Creative Problem-Solving

Another, less structured approach to challenges is creative problem-solving , which employs a series of exercises to explore open-ended solutions and develop new perspectives. This is especially useful when a problem’s root cause has yet to be defined.

You can use creative problem-solving tools in design thinking’s “ideate” stage, which include:

  • Brainstorming: Instruct everyone to develop as many ideas as possible in an allotted time frame without passing judgment.
  • Divergent thinking exercises: Rather than arriving at the same conclusion (convergent thinking), instruct everyone to come up with a unique idea for a given prompt (divergent thinking). This type of exercise helps avoid the tendency to agree with others’ ideas without considering alternatives.
  • Alternate worlds: Ask your team to consider how various personas would manage the problem. For instance, how would a pilot approach it? What about a young child? What about a seasoned engineer?

It can be tempting to fall back on how problems have been solved before, especially if they worked well. However, if you’re striving for innovation, relying on existing systems can stunt your company’s growth.

Related: How to Be a More Creative Problem-Solver at Work: 8 Tips

Why Is Problem-Solving Important for Leaders?

While obstacles’ specifics vary between industries, strong problem-solving skills are crucial for leaders in any field.

Whether building a new product or dealing with internal issues, you’re bound to come up against challenges. Having frameworks and tools at your disposal when they arise can turn issues into opportunities.

As a leader, it’s rarely your responsibility to solve a problem single-handedly, so it’s crucial to know how to empower employees to work together to find the best solution.

Your job is to guide them through each step of the framework and set the parameters and prompts within which they can be creative. Then, you can develop a list of ideas together, test the best ones, and implement the chosen solution.

Related: 5 Design Thinking Skills for Business Professionals

4 Problem-Solving Skills All Leaders Need

1. problem framing.

One key skill for any leader is framing problems in a way that makes sense for their organization. Problem framing is defined in Design Thinking and Innovation as determining the scope, context, and perspective of the problem you’re trying to solve.

“Before you begin to generate solutions for your problem, you must always think hard about how you’re going to frame that problem,” Datar says in the course.

For instance, imagine you work for a company that sells children’s sneakers, and sales have plummeted. When framing the problem, consider:

  • What is the children’s sneaker market like right now?
  • Should we improve the quality of our sneakers?
  • Should we assess all children’s footwear?
  • Is this a marketing issue for children’s sneakers specifically?
  • Is this a bigger issue that impacts how we should market or produce all footwear?

While there’s no one right way to frame a problem, how you do can impact the solutions you generate. It’s imperative to accurately frame problems to align with organizational priorities and ensure your team generates useful ideas for your firm.

To solve a problem, you need to empathize with those impacted by it. Empathy is the ability to understand others’ emotions and experiences. While many believe empathy is a fixed trait, it’s a skill you can strengthen through practice.

When confronted with a problem, consider whom it impacts. Returning to the children’s sneaker example, think of who’s affected:

  • Your organization’s employees, because sales are down
  • The customers who typically buy your sneakers
  • The children who typically wear your sneakers

Empathy is required to get to the problem’s root and consider each group’s perspective. Assuming someone’s perspective often isn’t accurate, so the best way to get that information is by collecting user feedback.

For instance, if you asked customers who typically buy your children’s sneakers why they’ve stopped, they could say, “A new brand of children’s sneakers came onto the market that have soles with more traction. I want my child to be as safe as possible, so I bought those instead.”

When someone shares their feelings and experiences, you have an opportunity to empathize with them. This can yield solutions to their problem that directly address its root and shows you care. In this case, you may design a new line of children’s sneakers with extremely grippy soles for added safety, knowing that’s what your customers care most about.

Related: 3 Effective Methods for Assessing Customer Needs

3. Breaking Cognitive Fixedness

Cognitive fixedness is a state of mind in which you examine situations through the lens of past experiences. This locks you into one mindset rather than allowing you to consider alternative possibilities.

For instance, your cognitive fixedness may make you think rubber is the only material for sneaker treads. What else could you use? Is there a grippier alternative you haven’t considered?

Problem-solving is all about overcoming cognitive fixedness. You not only need to foster this skill in yourself but among your team.

4. Creating a Psychologically Safe Environment

As a leader, it’s your job to create an environment conducive to problem-solving. In a psychologically safe environment, all team members feel comfortable bringing ideas to the table, which are likely influenced by their personal opinions and experiences.

If employees are penalized for “bad” ideas or chastised for questioning long-held procedures and systems, innovation has no place to take root.

By employing the design thinking framework and creative problem-solving exercises, you can foster a setting in which your team feels comfortable sharing ideas and new, innovative solutions can grow.

Design Thinking and Innovation | Uncover creative solutions to your business problems | Learn More

How to Build Problem-Solving Skills

The most obvious answer to how to build your problem-solving skills is perhaps the most intimidating: You must practice.

Again and again, you’ll encounter challenges, use creative problem-solving tools and design thinking frameworks, and assess results to learn what to do differently next time.

While most of your practice will occur within your organization, you can learn in a lower-stakes setting by taking an online course, such as Design Thinking and Innovation . Datar guides you through each tool and framework, presenting real-world business examples to help you envision how you would approach the same types of problems in your organization.

Are you interested in uncovering innovative solutions for your organization’s business problems? Explore Design Thinking and Innovation —one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses —to learn how to leverage proven frameworks and tools to solve challenges. Not sure which course is right for you? Download our free flowchart .

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35 problem-solving techniques and methods for solving complex problems

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All teams and organizations encounter challenges as they grow. There are problems that might occur for teams when it comes to miscommunication or resolving business-critical issues . You may face challenges around growth , design , user engagement, and even team culture and happiness. In short, problem-solving techniques should be part of every team’s skillset.

Problem-solving methods are primarily designed to help a group or team through a process of first identifying problems and challenges , ideating possible solutions , and then evaluating the most suitable .

Finding effective solutions to complex problems isn’t easy, but by using the right process and techniques, you can help your team be more efficient in the process.

So how do you develop strategies that are engaging, and empower your team to solve problems effectively?

In this blog post, we share a series of problem-solving tools you can use in your next workshop or team meeting. You’ll also find some tips for facilitating the process and how to enable others to solve complex problems.

Let’s get started! 

How do you identify problems?

How do you identify the right solution.

  • Tips for more effective problem-solving

Complete problem-solving methods

  • Problem-solving techniques to identify and analyze problems
  • Problem-solving techniques for developing solutions

Problem-solving warm-up activities

Closing activities for a problem-solving process.

Before you can move towards finding the right solution for a given problem, you first need to identify and define the problem you wish to solve. 

Here, you want to clearly articulate what the problem is and allow your group to do the same. Remember that everyone in a group is likely to have differing perspectives and alignment is necessary in order to help the group move forward. 

Identifying a problem accurately also requires that all members of a group are able to contribute their views in an open and safe manner. It can be scary for people to stand up and contribute, especially if the problems or challenges are emotive or personal in nature. Be sure to try and create a psychologically safe space for these kinds of discussions.

Remember that problem analysis and further discussion are also important. Not taking the time to fully analyze and discuss a challenge can result in the development of solutions that are not fit for purpose or do not address the underlying issue.

Successfully identifying and then analyzing a problem means facilitating a group through activities designed to help them clearly and honestly articulate their thoughts and produce usable insight.

With this data, you might then produce a problem statement that clearly describes the problem you wish to be addressed and also state the goal of any process you undertake to tackle this issue.  

Finding solutions is the end goal of any process. Complex organizational challenges can only be solved with an appropriate solution but discovering them requires using the right problem-solving tool.

After you’ve explored a problem and discussed ideas, you need to help a team discuss and choose the right solution. Consensus tools and methods such as those below help a group explore possible solutions before then voting for the best. They’re a great way to tap into the collective intelligence of the group for great results!

Remember that the process is often iterative. Great problem solvers often roadtest a viable solution in a measured way to see what works too. While you might not get the right solution on your first try, the methods below help teams land on the most likely to succeed solution while also holding space for improvement.

Every effective problem solving process begins with an agenda . A well-structured workshop is one of the best methods for successfully guiding a group from exploring a problem to implementing a solution.

In SessionLab, it’s easy to go from an idea to a complete agenda . Start by dragging and dropping your core problem solving activities into place . Add timings, breaks and necessary materials before sharing your agenda with your colleagues.

The resulting agenda will be your guide to an effective and productive problem solving session that will also help you stay organized on the day!

problem solving as a team

Tips for more effective problem solving

Problem-solving activities are only one part of the puzzle. While a great method can help unlock your team’s ability to solve problems, without a thoughtful approach and strong facilitation the solutions may not be fit for purpose.

Let’s take a look at some problem-solving tips you can apply to any process to help it be a success!

Clearly define the problem

Jumping straight to solutions can be tempting, though without first clearly articulating a problem, the solution might not be the right one. Many of the problem-solving activities below include sections where the problem is explored and clearly defined before moving on.

This is a vital part of the problem-solving process and taking the time to fully define an issue can save time and effort later. A clear definition helps identify irrelevant information and it also ensures that your team sets off on the right track.

Don’t jump to conclusions

It’s easy for groups to exhibit cognitive bias or have preconceived ideas about both problems and potential solutions. Be sure to back up any problem statements or potential solutions with facts, research, and adequate forethought.

The best techniques ask participants to be methodical and challenge preconceived notions. Make sure you give the group enough time and space to collect relevant information and consider the problem in a new way. By approaching the process with a clear, rational mindset, you’ll often find that better solutions are more forthcoming.  

Try different approaches  

Problems come in all shapes and sizes and so too should the methods you use to solve them. If you find that one approach isn’t yielding results and your team isn’t finding different solutions, try mixing it up. You’ll be surprised at how using a new creative activity can unblock your team and generate great solutions.

Don’t take it personally 

Depending on the nature of your team or organizational problems, it’s easy for conversations to get heated. While it’s good for participants to be engaged in the discussions, ensure that emotions don’t run too high and that blame isn’t thrown around while finding solutions.

You’re all in it together, and even if your team or area is seeing problems, that isn’t necessarily a disparagement of you personally. Using facilitation skills to manage group dynamics is one effective method of helping conversations be more constructive.

Get the right people in the room

Your problem-solving method is often only as effective as the group using it. Getting the right people on the job and managing the number of people present is important too!

If the group is too small, you may not get enough different perspectives to effectively solve a problem. If the group is too large, you can go round and round during the ideation stages.

Creating the right group makeup is also important in ensuring you have the necessary expertise and skillset to both identify and follow up on potential solutions. Carefully consider who to include at each stage to help ensure your problem-solving method is followed and positioned for success.

Document everything

The best solutions can take refinement, iteration, and reflection to come out. Get into a habit of documenting your process in order to keep all the learnings from the session and to allow ideas to mature and develop. Many of the methods below involve the creation of documents or shared resources. Be sure to keep and share these so everyone can benefit from the work done!

Bring a facilitator 

Facilitation is all about making group processes easier. With a subject as potentially emotive and important as problem-solving, having an impartial third party in the form of a facilitator can make all the difference in finding great solutions and keeping the process moving. Consider bringing a facilitator to your problem-solving session to get better results and generate meaningful solutions!

Develop your problem-solving skills

It takes time and practice to be an effective problem solver. While some roles or participants might more naturally gravitate towards problem-solving, it can take development and planning to help everyone create better solutions.

You might develop a training program, run a problem-solving workshop or simply ask your team to practice using the techniques below. Check out our post on problem-solving skills to see how you and your group can develop the right mental process and be more resilient to issues too!

Design a great agenda

Workshops are a great format for solving problems. With the right approach, you can focus a group and help them find the solutions to their own problems. But designing a process can be time-consuming and finding the right activities can be difficult.

Check out our workshop planning guide to level-up your agenda design and start running more effective workshops. Need inspiration? Check out templates designed by expert facilitators to help you kickstart your process!

In this section, we’ll look at in-depth problem-solving methods that provide a complete end-to-end process for developing effective solutions. These will help guide your team from the discovery and definition of a problem through to delivering the right solution.

If you’re looking for an all-encompassing method or problem-solving model, these processes are a great place to start. They’ll ask your team to challenge preconceived ideas and adopt a mindset for solving problems more effectively.

  • Six Thinking Hats
  • Lightning Decision Jam
  • Problem Definition Process
  • Discovery & Action Dialogue
Design Sprint 2.0
  • Open Space Technology

1. Six Thinking Hats

Individual approaches to solving a problem can be very different based on what team or role an individual holds. It can be easy for existing biases or perspectives to find their way into the mix, or for internal politics to direct a conversation.

Six Thinking Hats is a classic method for identifying the problems that need to be solved and enables your team to consider them from different angles, whether that is by focusing on facts and data, creative solutions, or by considering why a particular solution might not work.

Like all problem-solving frameworks, Six Thinking Hats is effective at helping teams remove roadblocks from a conversation or discussion and come to terms with all the aspects necessary to solve complex problems.

2. Lightning Decision Jam

Featured courtesy of Jonathan Courtney of AJ&Smart Berlin, Lightning Decision Jam is one of those strategies that should be in every facilitation toolbox. Exploring problems and finding solutions is often creative in nature, though as with any creative process, there is the potential to lose focus and get lost.

Unstructured discussions might get you there in the end, but it’s much more effective to use a method that creates a clear process and team focus.

In Lightning Decision Jam, participants are invited to begin by writing challenges, concerns, or mistakes on post-its without discussing them before then being invited by the moderator to present them to the group.

From there, the team vote on which problems to solve and are guided through steps that will allow them to reframe those problems, create solutions and then decide what to execute on. 

By deciding the problems that need to be solved as a team before moving on, this group process is great for ensuring the whole team is aligned and can take ownership over the next stages. 

Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)   #action   #decision making   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #innovation   #design   #remote-friendly   The problem with anything that requires creative thinking is that it’s easy to get lost—lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. Here’s the most effective solution I’ve found: Replace all open, unstructured discussion with a clear process. What to use this exercise for: Anything which requires a group of people to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges. It’s always good to frame an LDJ session with a broad topic, here are some examples: The conversion flow of our checkout Our internal design process How we organise events Keeping up with our competition Improving sales flow

3. Problem Definition Process

While problems can be complex, the problem-solving methods you use to identify and solve those problems can often be simple in design. 

By taking the time to truly identify and define a problem before asking the group to reframe the challenge as an opportunity, this method is a great way to enable change.

Begin by identifying a focus question and exploring the ways in which it manifests before splitting into five teams who will each consider the problem using a different method: escape, reversal, exaggeration, distortion or wishful. Teams develop a problem objective and create ideas in line with their method before then feeding them back to the group.

This method is great for enabling in-depth discussions while also creating space for finding creative solutions too!

Problem Definition   #problem solving   #idea generation   #creativity   #online   #remote-friendly   A problem solving technique to define a problem, challenge or opportunity and to generate ideas.

4. The 5 Whys 

Sometimes, a group needs to go further with their strategies and analyze the root cause at the heart of organizational issues. An RCA or root cause analysis is the process of identifying what is at the heart of business problems or recurring challenges. 

The 5 Whys is a simple and effective method of helping a group go find the root cause of any problem or challenge and conduct analysis that will deliver results. 

By beginning with the creation of a problem statement and going through five stages to refine it, The 5 Whys provides everything you need to truly discover the cause of an issue.

The 5 Whys   #hyperisland   #innovation   This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. As the title suggests, the group defines a problems, then asks the question “why” five times, often using the resulting explanation as a starting point for creative problem solving.

5. World Cafe

World Cafe is a simple but powerful facilitation technique to help bigger groups to focus their energy and attention on solving complex problems.

World Cafe enables this approach by creating a relaxed atmosphere where participants are able to self-organize and explore topics relevant and important to them which are themed around a central problem-solving purpose. Create the right atmosphere by modeling your space after a cafe and after guiding the group through the method, let them take the lead!

Making problem-solving a part of your organization’s culture in the long term can be a difficult undertaking. More approachable formats like World Cafe can be especially effective in bringing people unfamiliar with workshops into the fold. 

World Cafe   #hyperisland   #innovation   #issue analysis   World Café is a simple yet powerful method, originated by Juanita Brown, for enabling meaningful conversations driven completely by participants and the topics that are relevant and important to them. Facilitators create a cafe-style space and provide simple guidelines. Participants then self-organize and explore a set of relevant topics or questions for conversation.

6. Discovery & Action Dialogue (DAD)

One of the best approaches is to create a safe space for a group to share and discover practices and behaviors that can help them find their own solutions.

With DAD, you can help a group choose which problems they wish to solve and which approaches they will take to do so. It’s great at helping remove resistance to change and can help get buy-in at every level too!

This process of enabling frontline ownership is great in ensuring follow-through and is one of the methods you will want in your toolbox as a facilitator.

Discovery & Action Dialogue (DAD)   #idea generation   #liberating structures   #action   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   DADs make it easy for a group or community to discover practices and behaviors that enable some individuals (without access to special resources and facing the same constraints) to find better solutions than their peers to common problems. These are called positive deviant (PD) behaviors and practices. DADs make it possible for people in the group, unit, or community to discover by themselves these PD practices. DADs also create favorable conditions for stimulating participants’ creativity in spaces where they can feel safe to invent new and more effective practices. Resistance to change evaporates as participants are unleashed to choose freely which practices they will adopt or try and which problems they will tackle. DADs make it possible to achieve frontline ownership of solutions.

7. Design Sprint 2.0

Want to see how a team can solve big problems and move forward with prototyping and testing solutions in a few days? The Design Sprint 2.0 template from Jake Knapp, author of Sprint, is a complete agenda for a with proven results.

Developing the right agenda can involve difficult but necessary planning. Ensuring all the correct steps are followed can also be stressful or time-consuming depending on your level of experience.

Use this complete 4-day workshop template if you are finding there is no obvious solution to your challenge and want to focus your team around a specific problem that might require a shortcut to launching a minimum viable product or waiting for the organization-wide implementation of a solution.

8. Open space technology

Open space technology- developed by Harrison Owen – creates a space where large groups are invited to take ownership of their problem solving and lead individual sessions. Open space technology is a great format when you have a great deal of expertise and insight in the room and want to allow for different takes and approaches on a particular theme or problem you need to be solved.

Start by bringing your participants together to align around a central theme and focus their efforts. Explain the ground rules to help guide the problem-solving process and then invite members to identify any issue connecting to the central theme that they are interested in and are prepared to take responsibility for.

Once participants have decided on their approach to the core theme, they write their issue on a piece of paper, announce it to the group, pick a session time and place, and post the paper on the wall. As the wall fills up with sessions, the group is then invited to join the sessions that interest them the most and which they can contribute to, then you’re ready to begin!

Everyone joins the problem-solving group they’ve signed up to, record the discussion and if appropriate, findings can then be shared with the rest of the group afterward.

Open Space Technology   #action plan   #idea generation   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #large group   #online   #remote-friendly   Open Space is a methodology for large groups to create their agenda discerning important topics for discussion, suitable for conferences, community gatherings and whole system facilitation

Techniques to identify and analyze problems

Using a problem-solving method to help a team identify and analyze a problem can be a quick and effective addition to any workshop or meeting.

While further actions are always necessary, you can generate momentum and alignment easily, and these activities are a great place to get started.

We’ve put together this list of techniques to help you and your team with problem identification, analysis, and discussion that sets the foundation for developing effective solutions.

Let’s take a look!

  • The Creativity Dice
  • Fishbone Analysis
  • Problem Tree
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Agreement-Certainty Matrix
  • The Journalistic Six
  • LEGO Challenge
  • What, So What, Now What?
  • Journalists

Individual and group perspectives are incredibly important, but what happens if people are set in their minds and need a change of perspective in order to approach a problem more effectively?

Flip It is a method we love because it is both simple to understand and run, and allows groups to understand how their perspectives and biases are formed. 

Participants in Flip It are first invited to consider concerns, issues, or problems from a perspective of fear and write them on a flip chart. Then, the group is asked to consider those same issues from a perspective of hope and flip their understanding.  

No problem and solution is free from existing bias and by changing perspectives with Flip It, you can then develop a problem solving model quickly and effectively.

Flip It!   #gamestorming   #problem solving   #action   Often, a change in a problem or situation comes simply from a change in our perspectives. Flip It! is a quick game designed to show players that perspectives are made, not born.

10. The Creativity Dice

One of the most useful problem solving skills you can teach your team is of approaching challenges with creativity, flexibility, and openness. Games like The Creativity Dice allow teams to overcome the potential hurdle of too much linear thinking and approach the process with a sense of fun and speed. 

In The Creativity Dice, participants are organized around a topic and roll a dice to determine what they will work on for a period of 3 minutes at a time. They might roll a 3 and work on investigating factual information on the chosen topic. They might roll a 1 and work on identifying the specific goals, standards, or criteria for the session.

Encouraging rapid work and iteration while asking participants to be flexible are great skills to cultivate. Having a stage for idea incubation in this game is also important. Moments of pause can help ensure the ideas that are put forward are the most suitable. 

The Creativity Dice   #creativity   #problem solving   #thiagi   #issue analysis   Too much linear thinking is hazardous to creative problem solving. To be creative, you should approach the problem (or the opportunity) from different points of view. You should leave a thought hanging in mid-air and move to another. This skipping around prevents premature closure and lets your brain incubate one line of thought while you consciously pursue another.

11. Fishbone Analysis

Organizational or team challenges are rarely simple, and it’s important to remember that one problem can be an indication of something that goes deeper and may require further consideration to be solved.

Fishbone Analysis helps groups to dig deeper and understand the origins of a problem. It’s a great example of a root cause analysis method that is simple for everyone on a team to get their head around. 

Participants in this activity are asked to annotate a diagram of a fish, first adding the problem or issue to be worked on at the head of a fish before then brainstorming the root causes of the problem and adding them as bones on the fish. 

Using abstractions such as a diagram of a fish can really help a team break out of their regular thinking and develop a creative approach.

Fishbone Analysis   #problem solving   ##root cause analysis   #decision making   #online facilitation   A process to help identify and understand the origins of problems, issues or observations.

12. Problem Tree 

Encouraging visual thinking can be an essential part of many strategies. By simply reframing and clarifying problems, a group can move towards developing a problem solving model that works for them. 

In Problem Tree, groups are asked to first brainstorm a list of problems – these can be design problems, team problems or larger business problems – and then organize them into a hierarchy. The hierarchy could be from most important to least important or abstract to practical, though the key thing with problem solving games that involve this aspect is that your group has some way of managing and sorting all the issues that are raised.

Once you have a list of problems that need to be solved and have organized them accordingly, you’re then well-positioned for the next problem solving steps.

Problem tree   #define intentions   #create   #design   #issue analysis   A problem tree is a tool to clarify the hierarchy of problems addressed by the team within a design project; it represents high level problems or related sublevel problems.

13. SWOT Analysis

Chances are you’ve heard of the SWOT Analysis before. This problem-solving method focuses on identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is a tried and tested method for both individuals and teams.

Start by creating a desired end state or outcome and bare this in mind – any process solving model is made more effective by knowing what you are moving towards. Create a quadrant made up of the four categories of a SWOT analysis and ask participants to generate ideas based on each of those quadrants.

Once you have those ideas assembled in their quadrants, cluster them together based on their affinity with other ideas. These clusters are then used to facilitate group conversations and move things forward. 

SWOT analysis   #gamestorming   #problem solving   #action   #meeting facilitation   The SWOT Analysis is a long-standing technique of looking at what we have, with respect to the desired end state, as well as what we could improve on. It gives us an opportunity to gauge approaching opportunities and dangers, and assess the seriousness of the conditions that affect our future. When we understand those conditions, we can influence what comes next.

14. Agreement-Certainty Matrix

Not every problem-solving approach is right for every challenge, and deciding on the right method for the challenge at hand is a key part of being an effective team.

The Agreement Certainty matrix helps teams align on the nature of the challenges facing them. By sorting problems from simple to chaotic, your team can understand what methods are suitable for each problem and what they can do to ensure effective results. 

If you are already using Liberating Structures techniques as part of your problem-solving strategy, the Agreement-Certainty Matrix can be an invaluable addition to your process. We’ve found it particularly if you are having issues with recurring problems in your organization and want to go deeper in understanding the root cause. 

Agreement-Certainty Matrix   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   #problem solving   You can help individuals or groups avoid the frequent mistake of trying to solve a problem with methods that are not adapted to the nature of their challenge. The combination of two questions makes it possible to easily sort challenges into four categories: simple, complicated, complex , and chaotic .  A problem is simple when it can be solved reliably with practices that are easy to duplicate.  It is complicated when experts are required to devise a sophisticated solution that will yield the desired results predictably.  A problem is complex when there are several valid ways to proceed but outcomes are not predictable in detail.  Chaotic is when the context is too turbulent to identify a path forward.  A loose analogy may be used to describe these differences: simple is like following a recipe, complicated like sending a rocket to the moon, complex like raising a child, and chaotic is like the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”  The Liberating Structures Matching Matrix in Chapter 5 can be used as the first step to clarify the nature of a challenge and avoid the mismatches between problems and solutions that are frequently at the root of chronic, recurring problems.

Organizing and charting a team’s progress can be important in ensuring its success. SQUID (Sequential Question and Insight Diagram) is a great model that allows a team to effectively switch between giving questions and answers and develop the skills they need to stay on track throughout the process. 

Begin with two different colored sticky notes – one for questions and one for answers – and with your central topic (the head of the squid) on the board. Ask the group to first come up with a series of questions connected to their best guess of how to approach the topic. Ask the group to come up with answers to those questions, fix them to the board and connect them with a line. After some discussion, go back to question mode by responding to the generated answers or other points on the board.

It’s rewarding to see a diagram grow throughout the exercise, and a completed SQUID can provide a visual resource for future effort and as an example for other teams.

SQUID   #gamestorming   #project planning   #issue analysis   #problem solving   When exploring an information space, it’s important for a group to know where they are at any given time. By using SQUID, a group charts out the territory as they go and can navigate accordingly. SQUID stands for Sequential Question and Insight Diagram.

16. Speed Boat

To continue with our nautical theme, Speed Boat is a short and sweet activity that can help a team quickly identify what employees, clients or service users might have a problem with and analyze what might be standing in the way of achieving a solution.

Methods that allow for a group to make observations, have insights and obtain those eureka moments quickly are invaluable when trying to solve complex problems.

In Speed Boat, the approach is to first consider what anchors and challenges might be holding an organization (or boat) back. Bonus points if you are able to identify any sharks in the water and develop ideas that can also deal with competitors!   

Speed Boat   #gamestorming   #problem solving   #action   Speedboat is a short and sweet way to identify what your employees or clients don’t like about your product/service or what’s standing in the way of a desired goal.

17. The Journalistic Six

Some of the most effective ways of solving problems is by encouraging teams to be more inclusive and diverse in their thinking.

Based on the six key questions journalism students are taught to answer in articles and news stories, The Journalistic Six helps create teams to see the whole picture. By using who, what, when, where, why, and how to facilitate the conversation and encourage creative thinking, your team can make sure that the problem identification and problem analysis stages of the are covered exhaustively and thoughtfully. Reporter’s notebook and dictaphone optional.

The Journalistic Six – Who What When Where Why How   #idea generation   #issue analysis   #problem solving   #online   #creative thinking   #remote-friendly   A questioning method for generating, explaining, investigating ideas.

18. LEGO Challenge

Now for an activity that is a little out of the (toy) box. LEGO Serious Play is a facilitation methodology that can be used to improve creative thinking and problem-solving skills. 

The LEGO Challenge includes giving each member of the team an assignment that is hidden from the rest of the group while they create a structure without speaking.

What the LEGO challenge brings to the table is a fun working example of working with stakeholders who might not be on the same page to solve problems. Also, it’s LEGO! Who doesn’t love LEGO! 

LEGO Challenge   #hyperisland   #team   A team-building activity in which groups must work together to build a structure out of LEGO, but each individual has a secret “assignment” which makes the collaborative process more challenging. It emphasizes group communication, leadership dynamics, conflict, cooperation, patience and problem solving strategy.

19. What, So What, Now What?

If not carefully managed, the problem identification and problem analysis stages of the problem-solving process can actually create more problems and misunderstandings.

The What, So What, Now What? problem-solving activity is designed to help collect insights and move forward while also eliminating the possibility of disagreement when it comes to identifying, clarifying, and analyzing organizational or work problems. 

Facilitation is all about bringing groups together so that might work on a shared goal and the best problem-solving strategies ensure that teams are aligned in purpose, if not initially in opinion or insight.

Throughout the three steps of this game, you give everyone on a team to reflect on a problem by asking what happened, why it is important, and what actions should then be taken. 

This can be a great activity for bringing our individual perceptions about a problem or challenge and contextualizing it in a larger group setting. This is one of the most important problem-solving skills you can bring to your organization.

W³ – What, So What, Now What?   #issue analysis   #innovation   #liberating structures   You can help groups reflect on a shared experience in a way that builds understanding and spurs coordinated action while avoiding unproductive conflict. It is possible for every voice to be heard while simultaneously sifting for insights and shaping new direction. Progressing in stages makes this practical—from collecting facts about What Happened to making sense of these facts with So What and finally to what actions logically follow with Now What . The shared progression eliminates most of the misunderstandings that otherwise fuel disagreements about what to do. Voila!

20. Journalists  

Problem analysis can be one of the most important and decisive stages of all problem-solving tools. Sometimes, a team can become bogged down in the details and are unable to move forward.

Journalists is an activity that can avoid a group from getting stuck in the problem identification or problem analysis stages of the process.

In Journalists, the group is invited to draft the front page of a fictional newspaper and figure out what stories deserve to be on the cover and what headlines those stories will have. By reframing how your problems and challenges are approached, you can help a team move productively through the process and be better prepared for the steps to follow.

Journalists   #vision   #big picture   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   This is an exercise to use when the group gets stuck in details and struggles to see the big picture. Also good for defining a vision.

Problem-solving techniques for developing solutions 

The success of any problem-solving process can be measured by the solutions it produces. After you’ve defined the issue, explored existing ideas, and ideated, it’s time to narrow down to the correct solution.

Use these problem-solving techniques when you want to help your team find consensus, compare possible solutions, and move towards taking action on a particular problem.

  • Improved Solutions
  • Four-Step Sketch
  • 15% Solutions
  • How-Now-Wow matrix
  • Impact Effort Matrix

21. Mindspin  

Brainstorming is part of the bread and butter of the problem-solving process and all problem-solving strategies benefit from getting ideas out and challenging a team to generate solutions quickly. 

With Mindspin, participants are encouraged not only to generate ideas but to do so under time constraints and by slamming down cards and passing them on. By doing multiple rounds, your team can begin with a free generation of possible solutions before moving on to developing those solutions and encouraging further ideation. 

This is one of our favorite problem-solving activities and can be great for keeping the energy up throughout the workshop. Remember the importance of helping people become engaged in the process – energizing problem-solving techniques like Mindspin can help ensure your team stays engaged and happy, even when the problems they’re coming together to solve are complex. 

MindSpin   #teampedia   #idea generation   #problem solving   #action   A fast and loud method to enhance brainstorming within a team. Since this activity has more than round ideas that are repetitive can be ruled out leaving more creative and innovative answers to the challenge.

22. Improved Solutions

After a team has successfully identified a problem and come up with a few solutions, it can be tempting to call the work of the problem-solving process complete. That said, the first solution is not necessarily the best, and by including a further review and reflection activity into your problem-solving model, you can ensure your group reaches the best possible result. 

One of a number of problem-solving games from Thiagi Group, Improved Solutions helps you go the extra mile and develop suggested solutions with close consideration and peer review. By supporting the discussion of several problems at once and by shifting team roles throughout, this problem-solving technique is a dynamic way of finding the best solution. 

Improved Solutions   #creativity   #thiagi   #problem solving   #action   #team   You can improve any solution by objectively reviewing its strengths and weaknesses and making suitable adjustments. In this creativity framegame, you improve the solutions to several problems. To maintain objective detachment, you deal with a different problem during each of six rounds and assume different roles (problem owner, consultant, basher, booster, enhancer, and evaluator) during each round. At the conclusion of the activity, each player ends up with two solutions to her problem.

23. Four Step Sketch

Creative thinking and visual ideation does not need to be confined to the opening stages of your problem-solving strategies. Exercises that include sketching and prototyping on paper can be effective at the solution finding and development stage of the process, and can be great for keeping a team engaged. 

By going from simple notes to a crazy 8s round that involves rapidly sketching 8 variations on their ideas before then producing a final solution sketch, the group is able to iterate quickly and visually. Problem-solving techniques like Four-Step Sketch are great if you have a group of different thinkers and want to change things up from a more textual or discussion-based approach.

Four-Step Sketch   #design sprint   #innovation   #idea generation   #remote-friendly   The four-step sketch is an exercise that helps people to create well-formed concepts through a structured process that includes: Review key information Start design work on paper,  Consider multiple variations , Create a detailed solution . This exercise is preceded by a set of other activities allowing the group to clarify the challenge they want to solve. See how the Four Step Sketch exercise fits into a Design Sprint

24. 15% Solutions

Some problems are simpler than others and with the right problem-solving activities, you can empower people to take immediate actions that can help create organizational change. 

Part of the liberating structures toolkit, 15% solutions is a problem-solving technique that focuses on finding and implementing solutions quickly. A process of iterating and making small changes quickly can help generate momentum and an appetite for solving complex problems.

Problem-solving strategies can live and die on whether people are onboard. Getting some quick wins is a great way of getting people behind the process.   

It can be extremely empowering for a team to realize that problem-solving techniques can be deployed quickly and easily and delineate between things they can positively impact and those things they cannot change. 

15% Solutions   #action   #liberating structures   #remote-friendly   You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a BIG difference.  15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change.  With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.

25. How-Now-Wow Matrix

The problem-solving process is often creative, as complex problems usually require a change of thinking and creative response in order to find the best solutions. While it’s common for the first stages to encourage creative thinking, groups can often gravitate to familiar solutions when it comes to the end of the process. 

When selecting solutions, you don’t want to lose your creative energy! The How-Now-Wow Matrix from Gamestorming is a great problem-solving activity that enables a group to stay creative and think out of the box when it comes to selecting the right solution for a given problem.

Problem-solving techniques that encourage creative thinking and the ideation and selection of new solutions can be the most effective in organisational change. Give the How-Now-Wow Matrix a go, and not just for how pleasant it is to say out loud. 

How-Now-Wow Matrix   #gamestorming   #idea generation   #remote-friendly   When people want to develop new ideas, they most often think out of the box in the brainstorming or divergent phase. However, when it comes to convergence, people often end up picking ideas that are most familiar to them. This is called a ‘creative paradox’ or a ‘creadox’. The How-Now-Wow matrix is an idea selection tool that breaks the creadox by forcing people to weigh each idea on 2 parameters.

26. Impact and Effort Matrix

All problem-solving techniques hope to not only find solutions to a given problem or challenge but to find the best solution. When it comes to finding a solution, groups are invited to put on their decision-making hats and really think about how a proposed idea would work in practice. 

The Impact and Effort Matrix is one of the problem-solving techniques that fall into this camp, empowering participants to first generate ideas and then categorize them into a 2×2 matrix based on impact and effort.

Activities that invite critical thinking while remaining simple are invaluable. Use the Impact and Effort Matrix to move from ideation and towards evaluating potential solutions before then committing to them. 

Impact and Effort Matrix   #gamestorming   #decision making   #action   #remote-friendly   In this decision-making exercise, possible actions are mapped based on two factors: effort required to implement and potential impact. Categorizing ideas along these lines is a useful technique in decision making, as it obliges contributors to balance and evaluate suggested actions before committing to them.

27. Dotmocracy

If you’ve followed each of the problem-solving steps with your group successfully, you should move towards the end of your process with heaps of possible solutions developed with a specific problem in mind. But how do you help a group go from ideation to putting a solution into action? 

Dotmocracy – or Dot Voting -is a tried and tested method of helping a team in the problem-solving process make decisions and put actions in place with a degree of oversight and consensus. 

One of the problem-solving techniques that should be in every facilitator’s toolbox, Dot Voting is fast and effective and can help identify the most popular and best solutions and help bring a group to a decision effectively. 

Dotmocracy   #action   #decision making   #group prioritization   #hyperisland   #remote-friendly   Dotmocracy is a simple method for group prioritization or decision-making. It is not an activity on its own, but a method to use in processes where prioritization or decision-making is the aim. The method supports a group to quickly see which options are most popular or relevant. The options or ideas are written on post-its and stuck up on a wall for the whole group to see. Each person votes for the options they think are the strongest, and that information is used to inform a decision.

All facilitators know that warm-ups and icebreakers are useful for any workshop or group process. Problem-solving workshops are no different.

Use these problem-solving techniques to warm up a group and prepare them for the rest of the process. Activating your group by tapping into some of the top problem-solving skills can be one of the best ways to see great outcomes from your session.

  • Check-in/Check-out
  • Doodling Together
  • Show and Tell
  • Constellations
  • Draw a Tree

28. Check-in / Check-out

Solid processes are planned from beginning to end, and the best facilitators know that setting the tone and establishing a safe, open environment can be integral to a successful problem-solving process.

Check-in / Check-out is a great way to begin and/or bookend a problem-solving workshop. Checking in to a session emphasizes that everyone will be seen, heard, and expected to contribute. 

If you are running a series of meetings, setting a consistent pattern of checking in and checking out can really help your team get into a groove. We recommend this opening-closing activity for small to medium-sized groups though it can work with large groups if they’re disciplined!

Check-in / Check-out   #team   #opening   #closing   #hyperisland   #remote-friendly   Either checking-in or checking-out is a simple way for a team to open or close a process, symbolically and in a collaborative way. Checking-in/out invites each member in a group to be present, seen and heard, and to express a reflection or a feeling. Checking-in emphasizes presence, focus and group commitment; checking-out emphasizes reflection and symbolic closure.

29. Doodling Together  

Thinking creatively and not being afraid to make suggestions are important problem-solving skills for any group or team, and warming up by encouraging these behaviors is a great way to start. 

Doodling Together is one of our favorite creative ice breaker games – it’s quick, effective, and fun and can make all following problem-solving steps easier by encouraging a group to collaborate visually. By passing cards and adding additional items as they go, the workshop group gets into a groove of co-creation and idea development that is crucial to finding solutions to problems. 

Doodling Together   #collaboration   #creativity   #teamwork   #fun   #team   #visual methods   #energiser   #icebreaker   #remote-friendly   Create wild, weird and often funny postcards together & establish a group’s creative confidence.

30. Show and Tell

You might remember some version of Show and Tell from being a kid in school and it’s a great problem-solving activity to kick off a session.

Asking participants to prepare a little something before a workshop by bringing an object for show and tell can help them warm up before the session has even begun! Games that include a physical object can also help encourage early engagement before moving onto more big-picture thinking.

By asking your participants to tell stories about why they chose to bring a particular item to the group, you can help teams see things from new perspectives and see both differences and similarities in the way they approach a topic. Great groundwork for approaching a problem-solving process as a team! 

Show and Tell   #gamestorming   #action   #opening   #meeting facilitation   Show and Tell taps into the power of metaphors to reveal players’ underlying assumptions and associations around a topic The aim of the game is to get a deeper understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives on anything—a new project, an organizational restructuring, a shift in the company’s vision or team dynamic.

31. Constellations

Who doesn’t love stars? Constellations is a great warm-up activity for any workshop as it gets people up off their feet, energized, and ready to engage in new ways with established topics. It’s also great for showing existing beliefs, biases, and patterns that can come into play as part of your session.

Using warm-up games that help build trust and connection while also allowing for non-verbal responses can be great for easing people into the problem-solving process and encouraging engagement from everyone in the group. Constellations is great in large spaces that allow for movement and is definitely a practical exercise to allow the group to see patterns that are otherwise invisible. 

Constellations   #trust   #connection   #opening   #coaching   #patterns   #system   Individuals express their response to a statement or idea by standing closer or further from a central object. Used with teams to reveal system, hidden patterns, perspectives.

32. Draw a Tree

Problem-solving games that help raise group awareness through a central, unifying metaphor can be effective ways to warm-up a group in any problem-solving model.

Draw a Tree is a simple warm-up activity you can use in any group and which can provide a quick jolt of energy. Start by asking your participants to draw a tree in just 45 seconds – they can choose whether it will be abstract or realistic. 

Once the timer is up, ask the group how many people included the roots of the tree and use this as a means to discuss how we can ignore important parts of any system simply because they are not visible.

All problem-solving strategies are made more effective by thinking of problems critically and by exposing things that may not normally come to light. Warm-up games like Draw a Tree are great in that they quickly demonstrate some key problem-solving skills in an accessible and effective way.

Draw a Tree   #thiagi   #opening   #perspectives   #remote-friendly   With this game you can raise awarness about being more mindful, and aware of the environment we live in.

Each step of the problem-solving workshop benefits from an intelligent deployment of activities, games, and techniques. Bringing your session to an effective close helps ensure that solutions are followed through on and that you also celebrate what has been achieved.

Here are some problem-solving activities you can use to effectively close a workshop or meeting and ensure the great work you’ve done can continue afterward.

  • One Breath Feedback
  • Who What When Matrix
  • Response Cards

How do I conclude a problem-solving process?

All good things must come to an end. With the bulk of the work done, it can be tempting to conclude your workshop swiftly and without a moment to debrief and align. This can be problematic in that it doesn’t allow your team to fully process the results or reflect on the process.

At the end of an effective session, your team will have gone through a process that, while productive, can be exhausting. It’s important to give your group a moment to take a breath, ensure that they are clear on future actions, and provide short feedback before leaving the space. 

The primary purpose of any problem-solving method is to generate solutions and then implement them. Be sure to take the opportunity to ensure everyone is aligned and ready to effectively implement the solutions you produced in the workshop.

Remember that every process can be improved and by giving a short moment to collect feedback in the session, you can further refine your problem-solving methods and see further success in the future too.

33. One Breath Feedback

Maintaining attention and focus during the closing stages of a problem-solving workshop can be tricky and so being concise when giving feedback can be important. It’s easy to incur “death by feedback” should some team members go on for too long sharing their perspectives in a quick feedback round. 

One Breath Feedback is a great closing activity for workshops. You give everyone an opportunity to provide feedback on what they’ve done but only in the space of a single breath. This keeps feedback short and to the point and means that everyone is encouraged to provide the most important piece of feedback to them. 

One breath feedback   #closing   #feedback   #action   This is a feedback round in just one breath that excels in maintaining attention: each participants is able to speak during just one breath … for most people that’s around 20 to 25 seconds … unless of course you’ve been a deep sea diver in which case you’ll be able to do it for longer.

34. Who What When Matrix 

Matrices feature as part of many effective problem-solving strategies and with good reason. They are easily recognizable, simple to use, and generate results.

The Who What When Matrix is a great tool to use when closing your problem-solving session by attributing a who, what and when to the actions and solutions you have decided upon. The resulting matrix is a simple, easy-to-follow way of ensuring your team can move forward. 

Great solutions can’t be enacted without action and ownership. Your problem-solving process should include a stage for allocating tasks to individuals or teams and creating a realistic timeframe for those solutions to be implemented or checked out. Use this method to keep the solution implementation process clear and simple for all involved. 

Who/What/When Matrix   #gamestorming   #action   #project planning   With Who/What/When matrix, you can connect people with clear actions they have defined and have committed to.

35. Response cards

Group discussion can comprise the bulk of most problem-solving activities and by the end of the process, you might find that your team is talked out! 

Providing a means for your team to give feedback with short written notes can ensure everyone is head and can contribute without the need to stand up and talk. Depending on the needs of the group, giving an alternative can help ensure everyone can contribute to your problem-solving model in the way that makes the most sense for them.

Response Cards is a great way to close a workshop if you are looking for a gentle warm-down and want to get some swift discussion around some of the feedback that is raised. 

Response Cards   #debriefing   #closing   #structured sharing   #questions and answers   #thiagi   #action   It can be hard to involve everyone during a closing of a session. Some might stay in the background or get unheard because of louder participants. However, with the use of Response Cards, everyone will be involved in providing feedback or clarify questions at the end of a session.

Save time and effort discovering the right solutions

A structured problem solving process is a surefire way of solving tough problems, discovering creative solutions and driving organizational change. But how can you design for successful outcomes?

With SessionLab, it’s easy to design engaging workshops that deliver results. Drag, drop and reorder blocks  to build your agenda. When you make changes or update your agenda, your session  timing   adjusts automatically , saving you time on manual adjustments.

Collaborating with stakeholders or clients? Share your agenda with a single click and collaborate in real-time. No more sending documents back and forth over email.

Explore  how to use SessionLab  to design effective problem solving workshops or  watch this five minute video  to see the planner in action!

problem solving as a team

Over to you

The problem-solving process can often be as complicated and multifaceted as the problems they are set-up to solve. With the right problem-solving techniques and a mix of creative exercises designed to guide discussion and generate purposeful ideas, we hope we’ve given you the tools to find the best solutions as simply and easily as possible.

Is there a problem-solving technique that you are missing here? Do you have a favorite activity or method you use when facilitating? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you! 

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thank you very much for these excellent techniques

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Certainly wonderful article, very detailed. Shared!

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  • Getting to the root of the issue:  First, Sarah starts by looking at the numbers for the past few months. She identifies the products for which sales are falling. She then attempts to correlate it with the seasonal nature of consumption or if there is any other cause hiding behind the numbers. 
  • Identifying the sources of the problem:  In the next step, Sarah attempts to understand why sales are falling. Is it the entry of a new competitor in the next neighborhood, or have consumption preferences changed over time? She asks some of her present and past customers for feedback to get more ideas. 
  • Putting facts on the table:  Next up, Sarah talks to her sales team to understand their issues. They could be lacking training or facing heavy workloads, impacting their productivity. Together, they come up with a few ideas to improve sales. 
  • Selection and application:  Finally, Sarah and her team pick up a few ideas to work on after analyzing their costs and benefits. They ensure adequate resources, and Sarah provides support by guiding them wherever needed during the planning and execution stage. 
  • Identifying the root cause of the problem.
  • Brainstorming possible solutions.
  • Evaluating those solutions to select the best one.
  • Implementing it.

Problem-solving in leadership

  • Analytical thinking:   Analytical thinking skills refer to a leader’s abilities that help them analyze, study, and understand complex problems. It allows them to dive deeper into the issues impacting their teams and ensures that they can identify the causes accurately. 
  • Critical Thinking:  Critical thinking skills ensure leaders can think beyond the obvious. They enable leaders to question assumptions, break free from biases, and analyze situations and facts for accuracy. 
  • Creativity:  Problems are often not solved straightaway. Leaders need to think out of the box and traverse unconventional routes. Creativity lies at the center of this idea of thinking outside the box and creating pathways where none are apparent. 
  • Decision-making:  Cool, you have three ways to go. But where to head? That’s where decision-making comes into play – fine-tuning analysis and making the choices after weighing the pros and cons well. 
  • Effective Communication:  Last but not at the end lies effective communication that brings together multiple stakeholders to solve a problem. It is an essential skill to collaborate with all the parties in any issue. Leaders need communication skills to share their ideas and gain support for them.

How do Leaders Solve Problems?

Business turnaround, crisis management, team building.

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Outback Team Building & Training

22 Unbeatable Team Building Problem Solving Activities

22 Unbeatable Team Building Problem Solving Activities featured image

Problem-solving is a critical skill for professionals and with team building problem-solving activities, you can sharpen your skills while having fun at the same time.  

Updated: March 1, 2024

In the professional world, one thing is for sure: problem-solving is a vital skill if you want to survive and thrive. It’s a universal job skill that organizations seek in new potential employees and that managers look for when considering candidates for promotions.  

But there’s a problem. 

According to Payscale, 60% of managers feel that new grads entering the workforce lack problem-solving abilities – making it the most commonly lacking soft skill.  

Problem-solving skill needs to be practiced and perfected on an ongoing basis in order to be applied effectively when the time comes. And while there are tons of traditional approaches to becoming a better problem-solver, there’s another (much more interesting) option: team building problem-solving activities. 

The good news? This means learning and having fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And you can create a stronger team at the same time. 

16 In-Person Team Building Problem Solving Activities for Your Work Group  

1. cardboard boat building challenge, 2. egg drop , 3. clue murder mystery, 4. marshmallow spaghetti tower  , 5. corporate escape room, 6. wild goose chase, 7. lost at sea  , 8. domino effect challenge, 9. reverse pyramid  , 10. ci: the crime investigators, 11. team pursuit, 12. bridge builders, 13. domino effect challenge, 14. hollywood murder mystery, 15. code break, 16. cardboard boat building challenge, 6 virtual team building problem solving activities for your work group  , 1. virtual escape room: mummy’s curse, 2. virtual clue murder mystery, 3. virtual escape room: jewel heist, 4. virtual code break  , 5. virtual trivia time machine.

  • 6. Virtual Jeoparty Social

There are a ton of incredible team building problem solving activities available. We’ve hand-picked 16 of our favorites that we think your corporate group will love too. 

a cardboard boat building challenge for problem solving team building

Split into teams and create a cardboard boat made out of just the materials provided: cardboard and tape. Team members will have to work together to engineer a functional boat that will float and sail across water without sinking. Once teams have finished making their boats, they will create a presentation to explain why their boat is the best, before putting their boats to the test. The final challenge will have teams racing their boats to test their durability! Nothing says problem-solving like having to make sure you don’t sink into the water!

egg drop is a great team building problem solving activity

Every day at work, you’re forced to make countless decisions – whether they’re massively important or so small you barely think about them.  

But your ability to effectively make decisions is critical in solving problems quickly and effectively.  

With a classic team building problem solving activity like the Egg Drop, that’s exactly what your team will learn to do. 

For this activity, you’ll need some eggs, construction materials, and a place you wouldn’t mind smashing getting dirty with eggshells and yolks.  

The goal of this activity is to create a contraption that will encase an egg and protect it from a fall – whether it’s from standing height or the top of a building. But the challenge is that you and your team will only have a short amount of time to build it before it’s time to test it out, so you’ll have to think quickly! 

To make it even more challenging, you’ll have to build the casing using only simple materials like: 

  • Newspapers 
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber bands
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Cotton balls

Feel free to have some fun in picking the materials. Use whatever you think would be helpful without making things too easy! 

Give your group 15 minutes to construct their egg casing before each team drops their eggs. If multiple eggs survive, increase the height gradually to see whose created the sturdiest contraption.  

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of using eggs for this activity, consider using another breakable alternative, such as lightbulbs for a vegan Egg Drop experience. 

solving a crime is a great way to practice problem solving skills

With Clue Murder Mystery, your team will need to solve the murder of a man named Neil Davidson by figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime.

But it won’t be easy! You’ll need to exercise your best problem-solving skills and channel your inner detectives if you want to keep this case from going cold and to get justice for the victim.

do a spaghetti tower for team building problem solving activity

Collaboration is critical to problem solving. 

Why? Because, as the old saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This expression reflects the fact that people are capable of achieving greater things when they work together to do so. 

If you’re looking for a team building problem solving activity that helps boost collaboration, you’ll love Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower.  

This game involves working in teams to build the tallest possible freestanding tower using only marshmallows, uncooked spaghetti, tape, and string.  

The kicker? This all has to be done within an allotted timeframe. We recommend about thirty minutes.  

For an added dimension of challenge, try adding a marshmallow to the top of the tower to make it a little more top heavy.  

Whichever team has the highest tower when time runs out is the winner! 

corporate escape rooms are unique team building problem solving activities

If you’ve never participated in an escape room, your team is missing out! It’s one of the most effective team building problem solving activities out there because it puts you and your colleagues in a scenario where the only way out is collaboratively solving puzzles and deciphering clues.  

The principle is simple: lock your group in a room, hide the key somewhere in that room, and have them work through challenges within a set time frame. Each challenge will lead them one step closer to finding the key and, ultimately, their escape.    

At Outback, we offer “done-for-you” escape rooms where we’ll transform your office or meeting room so you don’t have to worry about:

  • Seeking transportation for your team 
  • Capacity of the escape rooms  
  • High costs 
  • Excessive planning  

That way, you and your team can simply step inside and get to work collaborating, using creative problem solving, and thinking outside the box.   

wild goose chase is a great scavenger hunt problem solving team building activity for work

In this smartphone-based scavenger hunt team building activity , your group will split into teams and complete fun challenges by taking photos and videos around the city. Some examples of challenges you can do in this activity are:

  • Parkour:  Take a picture of three team members jumping over an object that’s at least waist-high.
  • Beautiful Mind:  Snap a photo of a team member proving a well-known mathematical theorem on a chalkboard.
  • Puppy Love:  Take a photo of all of your team members petting a stranger’s dog at the same time.

It takes a ton of critical thinking and problem-solving to be crowned the Wild Goose Chase Champions!

your teammates will love lost at sea team building activity

Can you imagine a higher-pressure situation than being stranded at sea in a lifeboat with your colleagues? 

With this team building problem solving activity, that’s exactly the situation you and your group will put yourselves. But by the time the activity is over, you’ll have gained more experience with the idea of having to solve problems under pressure – a common but difficult thing to do. 

Here’s how it works. 

Each team member will get a six-columned chart where: 

  • The first column lists the survival items each team has on hand (see the list below) 
  • The second column is empty so that each team member can rank the items in order of importance for survival  
  • The third column is for group rankings  
  • The fourth column is for the “correct” rankings, which are revealed at the end of the activity 
  • The fifth and sixth columns are for the team to enter thee difference between their individual and correct scores and the team and correct rankings 

Within this activity, each team will be equipped with the following “survival items,” listed below in order of importance, as well as a pack of matches:  

  • A shaving mirror (this can be used to signal passing ships using the sun) 
  • A can of gas (could be used for signaling as it could be put in the water and lit with the pack of matches) 
  • A water container (for collecting water to re-hydrate) 
  • Emergency food rations (critical survival food) 
  • One plastic sheet (can be helpful for shelter or to collect rainwater) 
  • Chocolate bars (another food supply) 
  • Fishing rods (helpful, but no guarantee of catching food) 
  • Rope (can be handy, but not necessarily essential for survival) 
  • A floating seat cushion (usable as a life preserver)  
  • Shark repellant (could be important when in the water) 
  • A bottle of rum (could be useful for cleaning wounds) 
  • A radio (could be very helpful but there’s a good chance you’re out of range) 
  • A sea chart (this is worthless without navigation equipment) 
  • A mosquito net (unless you’ve been shipwrecked somewhere with a ton of mosquitos, this isn’t very useful) 

To get the activity underway, divide your group into teams of five and ask each team member to take ten minutes on their own to rank the items in order of importance in the respective column. Then, give the full team ten minutes as a group to discuss their individual rankings together and take group rankings, listed in that respective column. Ask each group to compare their individual rankings with those of the group as a whole. 

Finally, read out the correct order according to the US Coast Guard, listed above.  

The goal of this activity is for everyone to be heard and to come to a decision together about what they need most to survive.  

If your team works remotely, you can also do this activity online. Using a video conferencing tool like  Zoom , you can bring your group together and separate teams into “break-out rooms” where they’ll take their time individually and then regroup together. At the end, you can bring them back to the full video conference to go through the answers together. 

colleagues thinking outside the box with a domino effect challenge team building problem solving activity

Many problems are intricately complex and involve a ton of moving parts. And in order to solve this type of problem, you need to be able to examine it systematically, one piece at a time.  

Especially in the business world, many problems or challenges involve multiple different teams or departments working through their respective portions of a problem before coming together in the end to create a holistic solution. 

As you can imagine, this is often easier said than done. And that’s why it’s so important to practice this ability.  

With a collaborative team building problem solving activity like Domino Effect Challenge, that’s exactly what you’ll need to do as you and your group work to create a massive, fully functional chain reaction machine. 

Here’s how it goes. 

Your group will break up into teams, with each team working to complete their own section of a massive “Rube Goldberg” machine. Then, all teams will regroup and assemble the entire machine together. You’ll need to exercise communication, collaboration, and on-the-fly problem solving in order to make your chain reaction machine go off without a hitch from start to finish. 

reverse pyramid is a team building activity that makes colleagues think about problems in new ways

Being a great problem-solver means being adaptable and creative. And if you’re looking for a quick and easy team building problem solving activity, you’ll love the reverse pyramid. 

The idea here is simple: break your group out into small teams and then stand in the form of a pyramid.  

Your challenge is to flip the base and the peak of the pyramid – but you can only move three people in order to do so.  

Alternatively, rather than doing this activity with people as the pyramid, you can do another version –  the Pyramid Build  – using plastic cups instead.   

This version is a little bit different. Rather than flipping the base of a pyramid to the top, you’ll need to build the pyramid instead–but in reverse, starting from the top cup and working down. 

With this version, you’ll need 36 cups and one table per group. We recommend groups of five to seven people. Give your group 20 to 30 minutes to complete the activity. 

To get started, place one cup face down. Then, lift that cup and place the subsequent two cups underneath it. 

The real challenge here? You can only lift your pyramid by the bottom row in order to put a new row underneath – and only one person at a time can do the lifting. The remaining group members will need to act quickly and work together in order to add the next row so that it will balance the rest of the pyramid. 

If any part of your pyramid falls, you’ll need to start over. Whichever team has the most complete pyramid when time runs out will be the winner!  

solving a crime is a great way for team members to use problem solving skills

The value of being able to approach problems analytically can’t be overstated. Because when problems arise, the best way to solve them is by examining the facts and making a decision based on what you know. 

With CI: The Crime Investigators, this is exactly what your team will be called upon to do as you put your detective’s hats on and work to solve a deadly crime. 

You’ll be presented with evidence and need to uncover and decipher clues. And using only the information at your disposal, you’ll need to examine the facts in order to crack the case. 

Like many of our team building problem solving activities, CI: The Crime Investigators is available in a hosted format, which can take place at your office or an outside venue, as well as a virtually-hosted format that uses video conferencing tools, or a self-hosted version that you can run entirely on your own.  

team pursuit team building is great for problem solving skills

Each member of your team has their own unique strengths and skills. And by learning to combine those skills, you can overcome any challenge and solve any problem. With Team Pursuit, you and your team together to tackle challenges as you learn new things about one another, discover your hidden talents, and learn to rely on each other.

This team building problem solving activity is perfect for high-energy groups that love to put their heads together and work strategically to solve problems as a group.

image

Collaborate with your colleague to design and build different segments of a bridge. At the end, see if the sections come together to create a free-standing structure!   

domino effect challenging is a brain busting winter team building activity

Together as a group, see if you and your colleagues can build a gigantic “chain-reaction” machine that really works!

In smaller groups, participants work together to solve the challenge of creating sections of the machine using miscellaneous parts, and at the end, you’ll have to collaborate to connect it all together and put it in motion.

The case is fresh, but here’s what we know so far: we’ve got an up-and-coming actress who’s been found dead in her hotel room following last night’s awards show.

We have several suspects, but we haven’t been able to put the crime on any of them for sure yet. Now, it’s up to you and your team of detectives to crack the case. Together, you’ll review case files and evidence including police reports, coroners’ reports, photo evidence, tabloids, interrogations, and phone calls as you determine the motive, method, and murderer and bring justice for the victim.

You’ll need to put your problem-solving skills to the test as you share theories, collaborate, and think outside the box with your fellow investigators.

code break is a cerebral indoor team building activity

Using Outback’s app, split up into small groups and put your heads together to solve a variety of puzzles, riddles, and trivia. The team who has completed the most challenges when time is up, wins!

image 1

Can you stay afloat in a body of water in a boat made entirely of cardboard? Now that is a problem that urgently needs solving.

With this team building problem solving activity, you and your colleagues will split into groups and create a cardboard boat made out of just the materials provided – cardboard and tape.

Team members will have to work together to engineer a functional boat that will float and sail across water without sinking. Once teams have finished making their boats, they will create a presentation to explain why their boat is the best, before putting their boats to the test. The final challenge will have teams racing their boats across the water!

colleagues doing a virtual team building problem solving activity

If you and your team are working remotely, don’t worry. You still have a ton of great virtual team building problem solving options at your disposal.

virtual escape room mummys curse

In this virtual escape room experience, your team will be transported into a pyramid cursed by a restless mummy. You’ll have to work together to uncover clues and solve complex challenges to lift the ancient curse.

team members doing a fun virtual clue murder mystery

You’ve probably never heard of a man named Neil Davidson. But your group will need to come together to solve the mystery of his murder by analyzing clues, resolving challenges, and figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit a deadly crime. 

This activity will challenge you and your group to approach problems analytically, read between the lines, and use critical thinking in order to identify a suspect and deliver justice.  

escape rooms are fun and unique team building problem solving activities

If you and your team like brainteasers, then Virtual Escape Room: Jewel Heist will be a big hit.  

Here’s the backstory.

There’s been a robbery. Someone has masterminded a heist to steal a priceless collection of precious jewels, and it’s up to you and your team to recover them before time runs out.

Together, you’ll need to uncover hidden clues and solve a series of brain-boggling challenges that require collaboration, creative problem-solving, and outside-the-box thinking. But be quick! The clock is ticking before the stolen score is gone forever.

try virtual code break as a way to use problem solving skills with teammates

With Virtual Code Break, you and your team can learn to be adaptive and dynamic in your thinking in order to tackle any new challenges that come your way. In this activity, your group will connect on a video conferencing platform where your event host will split you out into teams. Together, you’ll have to adapt your problem-solving skills as you race against the clock to tackle a variety of mixed brainteaser challenges ranging from Sudoku to puzzles, a game of Cranium, riddles, and even trivia. 

Curious to see how a virtual team building activity works? Check out this video on a Virtual Clue Murder Mystery in action. 

trivia is a great problem solving activity for colleagues

Step into the Outback Time Machine and take a trip through time, from pre-pandemic 21st century through the decades all the way to the 60’s. 

This exciting, fast-paced virtual trivia game, packed with nostalgia and good vibes, is guaranteed to produce big laughs, friendly competition, and maybe even some chair-dancing. 

Your virtual game show host will warm up guests with a couple of “table hopper rounds” (breakout room mixers) and split you out into teams. Within minutes, your home office will be transformed into a game show stage with your very own game show buzzers! 

And if your team loves trivia, check out our list of the most incredible virtual trivia games for work teams for even more ideas.

6.  Virtual Jeoparty Social

Virtual Jeoparty Social is a fun high energy virtual team building activity

If your remote team is eager to socialize, have some fun as a group, and channel their competitive spirit, we’ve got just the thing for you! With Virtual Jeoparty Social, you and your colleagues will step into your very own virtual Jeopardy-style game show—equipped with a buzzer button, a professional actor as your host, and an immersive game show platform! Best of all, this game has been infused with an ultra-social twist: players will take part in a unique social mixer challenge between each round. 

With the right team building problem solving activities, you can help your team sharpen their core skills to ensure they’re prepared when they inevitably face a challenge at work. And best of all, you can have fun in the process. 

Do you have any favorite team building activities for building problem-solving skills? If so, tell us about them in the comments section below! 

Learn More About Team Building Problem Solving Activities  

For more information about how your group can take part in a virtual team building, training, or coaching solution, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.     

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17 Team Building Problem Solving Activities & Exercises

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Whether you work in an office or online, it is important to establish a strong foundation as a team. Good communication and collaboration skills are essential for any successful team, but problem-solving skills are what will help you through the tough times.

Life is unpredictable, which is why problem solving skills are critical to learn , starting at a young age. They help us deal with the curveballs that will inevitably be thrown our way from time to time… without spiraling off course into a panic .

Table of Contents

What Are Problem Solving Skills?

Problem-solving skills are the ability to identify and solve problems creatively and effectively . They involve analyzing a situation, coming up with a plan of action, and then following through with that plan. These types of skills are important in both personal and professional life.

In your personal life, you will no longer have the same constant helping hand or be able to make excuses as you could in childhood . When something happens, you will need to be able to figure out a way to fix it yourself. In your professional life, being able to solve problems quickly and efficiently will make you an invaluable asset to any team.

Why Problem Solving Activities Are Important In the Workplace

There are many benefits to having strong problem solving skills in the workplace. For one, it can help improve morale among team members. When everyone is working together to solve a problem, it can create a sense of camaraderie and teamwork .

It can also help hold team members accountable for their actions. If a problem arises, everyone will need to work together to solve it instead of placing the blame on one person. This will help create a more cohesive team that is better able to handle difficult situations.

Finally, problem solving skills can help improve productivity in the workplace. When problems are solved quickly and efficiently, it allows the team to move on to other tasks more quickly.

17 Problem Solving Activities

Activity #1. brainstorming.

This is a great activity for getting the creative juices flowing. Get your team together and have them come up with as many ideas as possible for solving the problem at hand. The more ideas, the better!

One way to start may be to ask everyone to write down their ideas individually, then have each person share their idea with the group. Once all the ideas are on the table, you can start to narrow down which ones are the most feasible.

Activity #2. Role-Playing

If you are ready to get the team members to think outside the box, have them take on different roles and come up with solutions from those perspectives. The roles can be anything from a customer to a company CEO.

Write down roles on a piece of paper and put them in a hat or bowl. Have each team member draw a role and then have them work on coming up with solutions from that perspective.

Activity #3. Logic Puzzles

These types of puzzles are great for testing your team’s critical thinking skills. There are a variety of different logic puzzles available online or in puzzle books .

problem solving activities for teens | creative problem solving activities for adults | virtual problem solving activities for students

Logic puzzles can be a great team-building activity as they require everyone to work together to find the solution.

Activity #4. Word Association

This is a simple but effective way to get ideas flowing. Write down a list of words or phrases related to the problem and then have your team come up with solutions based on those words.

Let's take the word “online safety” for example. Some potential solutions could be creating strong passwords, using two-factor authentication, or avoiding phishing scams or unnecessary social media use at work .

Activity #5. Debate

This activity will help get the team thinking about the issue from different angles . Have each team member take a side of the debate and then have them argue their points.

After everyone has had a chance to speak, have the team come to a consensus on the best solution.

Activity #6. Process Mapping

This activity is great for visual learners. Get a whiteboard or large piece of paper and map out the steps that need to be taken to solve the problem. This will help the team see the issue as a whole and spot any potential roadblocks.

Activity #7. Mind Mapping

This is similar to process mapping but is more focused on coming up with ideas. Write down the main issue in the center of the paper and then have team members come up with ideas that branch off from that.

Activity #8. Fishbone Diagram

If you are looking for another visual activity that can help a team see the different factors that contribute to a problem, try the fishbone diagram. Draw a large fish skeleton on a whiteboard or piece of paper and then have team members add in the different factors that contribute to the problem.

Activity #9. 5 Whys

Have the team start with the main issue and then each person takes turns asking “why” until you get to the root cause of the problem. Five times is usually sufficient to solve most problems. This is very effective for uncovering hidden problems.

One example may involve sales:

The problem is that our sales are down:

  • Why? Because we’re not getting enough foot traffic in the store.
  • Why? We’re not advertising enough.
  • Why? We don’t have the budget for it.
  • Why? There is too much inventory loss/theft.
  • Why? High employee turnover.

Activity #10. Scenario Planning

Think ahead and prepare for potential problems in the future. Have the team come up with different scenarios that could happen and then brainstorm solutions for each one. A perfect example may be different ways to escape the building in the event of an emergency.

One approach can involve escape routes, another can focus on the steps needed to shelter in place, and the last can highlight who is responsible for what during an evacuation.

Activity #11. SWOT Analysis

Before coming up with solutions, it is important to understand the different factors that could impact them.

The SWOT analysis activity will help the team identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats associated with the problem. This will help them come up with more informed solutions and deeper thinking.

Activity #12. Reverse Brainstorming

To prevent boredom, do what you can to get the team to think outside the box. Instead of brainstorming ways to solve the problem, have them come up with ways to make it worse. It may sound counter-productive but it can help the team see the issue from a different perspective and come up with more creative solutions.

problem solving exercises with answers | problem solving activities for students | problem solving team building activities virtual

Reverse brainstorming works by having the team come up with as many bad ideas as possible. Once they have exhausted all the ways to make the problem worse, they can then start thinking of ways to fix it.

Activity #13. Problem Solving Workshop

This is a more structured way of approaching problem solving as a team. It involves breaking the team into small groups and having each group come up with solutions to various specific problems.

Once all the groups have had a chance to share their ideas, the team can then vote on the best solution. You may want to start with a problem not directly related to the job and have the teams solve it. Next, ask them how the same approach can be used at the job. An example of this may include the team solving a Rubik’s Cube and then asking them how they can apply that same level of critical thinking to their work.

Now let's think about how to do team building and problem solving for the increasing number of people working remotely. Team building remotely may have its unique challenges but it is not impossible.

Remote Problem Solving Activities

Activity #14. coffee chat.

This is a great way to get everyone on the team introduced to each other, especially if you have new members coming on board. Set up a time for everyone to jump on a video call and chat over coffee (or tea!). This can be done weekly or monthly, depending on the size of the team. It is a great way to informally chat about issues and concerns and can get the ball rolling on real solutions.

During the early days of the pandemic, my writing group set aside the writing topic for a session and decided to do an online happy hour with great success. We got to chat about other issues not directly related to writing and we all got useful insights.

Activity #15. Show and Tell

Who says team building problem solving activities can't be fun? This is a nice way for everyone to get to know each other on a personal level. Have each team member choose an item from their home that has special meaning to them and do a “show and tell”. Ask if each person can find an object related to helping them do their job or something completely unrelated. This is a great way to build rapport, get to know each other on a personal level, and of course – solve certain problems.

For example, someone may demonstrate hand exercises or stretching techniques to help with issues that stem from sitting at a desk or typing all day.

Maybe people in the group struggle to use a certain design program or add attachments to emails. Someone can use screen share to show an easier way to do something that has stumbled their colleagues.

Activity #16. Virtual Office Tour

Another way to get everyone acquainted with each other and the idea of working from home is to do a virtual office tour. This can be done by having each team member give a quick tour of their home office (or workspace). This is also a great way to get everyone comfortable with using video conferencing if they are not already. The reality is, everyone is not accustomed to working from home yet and a virtual tour from someone more experienced may help ease anxiety and provide peer-to-peer teaching. I

Activity #17. Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt can either be done in person or online. If you are doing it remotely, you can use a program like Zoom to break everyone into small groups. Give each group a list of items they need to find and set a time limit. The first team to find all the items (or the team with the most items) wins.

You can make the scavenger hunt related to work or you can make it more general. If you want to make it work-related, you can have teams find things like “a picture of someone wearing a hard hat” or “an item that starts with the letter E”. If you want to make it more general, you can have teams find items like “a picture of a pet” or “an item that is green”.

Final Thoughts about Problem Solving Activities

There are many benefits in the workplace to executing problem solving activities, whether in person or remotely. You can even conduct team building activities outdoors for a nice change of pace.

Team building exercises like these can help build rapport, provide peer-to-peer teaching opportunities, and help with critical thinking skills .

The most important thing is to find something that works for your team and that everyone is comfortable with. And with a little creativity, you can find ways to build your team no matter where they are located. You don’t need to be in close proximity to grow closer .

If you have children, you may want to check out 11 Fun Problem Solving Activities for Kids and 21 Fun Team Building Activities for Kids , as it’s never too young to teach this valuable skill.

team building problem solving activities | team building problem solving activities pdf | problem solving activities for employees

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7 Advantages of Team Problem-Solving

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