Problem Solving Activities for Team Building

Written by tom ryan
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Problem Solving Activities for Team Building
Problem solving activities encourage team members to support one another. (team image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com)

Whether a team of coworkers has been recently assembled or working together for years, you can strengthen their bonds of trust and communication by organising problem-solving activities. These activities can help co-workers understand and adapt to each other's various methods and personalities. By granting this opportunity in a relaxed setting outside of the workplace, your team members can feel at ease as they get to know each other better.

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Paper bridges

This activity tests a team's ability to communicate and think creatively. First, divide the group into smaller teams of about five people. With the groups formed, give each group a stack of newspapers and one or two rolls of masking tape. Each team is tasked with creating a bridge using only these supplies, and the bridge must be capable of supporting a half gallon jug of water. Give the teams five to 10 minutes to brainstorm ideas, then inform them that they have 15 minutes to build their bridges---but they are not permitted to speak during those 15 minutes. This tests their ability to delegate responsibility and perform complex tasks without spoken communication. As the end of the time period, test each bridge, and issue a prize to whichever team's bridge held the water for the longest period of time (See References 1).

Egg drop

The egg drop is a challenge that gives team members the opportunity to be creative and respond to one another's ideas. Divide people into small groups of four or five people, and outfit them with a variety of supplies---these can include paper towels, rubber bands, paper clips, tape, drinking straws and other everyday items. Each team is also given an egg, and instructed to create a package for the egg that will protect it from a fall. Give the teams 15 to 20 minutes to complete their packages. Begin by testing the eggs by dropping them from a height of eight to 10 feet. Any survivors can then be put to the test by increasingly higher drop points---this may even lead to egg drops of two stories or higher. Whichever team has built the most effective egg cradle wins a prize (See References 2).

Blown-up art

This activity involves every team member working together, instead of splitting up and competing. For this activity, first choose a well-known piece of artwork or cartoon. Cut it into squares---as many as you need so that each team member receives one. Then instruct each team member to recreate her square piece, but on a much larger piece of paper. Do not tell or show the team what the piece of artwork is---each member has only her or his own piece to copy, without knowing how it fits in the larger picture. When everyone has completed her or his piece, instruct the team to come together and assemble the puzzle. This task requires patience and communication between team members as they figure out a plan for solving the puzzle---it also demonstrates for them the importance of every person doing her part, as everybody's work adds up to create something big (See References 3).

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