Problem Solving

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Problem Solving is comprised of team building and communication exercises focusing on groups attempting to solve a number of logic, lateral-thinking or skill based problems. Working together in a team, they will learn about how to break down a challenge, review performance and adapt how they approach a problem.




Problem Solving Activity Plan

Activity Setup

To get started, visit our free team building activities section and choose 3 to 4 challenges. Ensure you select challenges that focus on developing your specific learning outcomes and are suitable for your participants.

Most challenges can be delivered either indoors or outdoor. Please refer to your chosen challenge notes for more information on space and equipment requirements.

Group Size: 8 to 12 ideally, but can be done with up to 20 participants.
Total Time: 90 mins

  • 5 minute introduction
  • 15 minutes for Challenge 1 and Review
  • 15 minutes for Challenge 2 and Review
  • 25 minutes for Challenge 3 and Review
  • 20 minutes for Challenge 4 and Review
  • 10 minutes to Review and De-Brief

Introduction to Teamwork

Establish groups existing knowledge by asking some open questions about teamwork. Discuss teamwork, its benefits and essential elements of teamwork. Here a few example questions:

  • What does a team need to be able to do to work effectively?
  • What is Communication?
  • What is the most important part of communication?
  • What do you think is the easiest way to solve a problem?
  • How would you respond of you couldn’t solve a problem?

Introduce Learning Cycle (Based on Kolb)

Plan – formulate an approach based on your understanding of the problem.
Do – Implement your plan. Try and solve the problem.
Review – Recap your approach to the problem, whether successful or not.
Adapt – Formulate outcomes based on the team’s effort, and apply to second attempt if needed.

For more information on experiential learning cycles, have a look at Roger Greenaway’s excellent article at reviewing.co.uk

Facilitator note:

  • Do not ask questions directly to individuals
  • Try not to talk at the group but ask open questions to lead participants to the answer/solution.

Problem Solving Challenges

Introduce the first challenge, ensuring that you cover the following:

  1. All participants should be clear on the aim and purpose of each problem.
  2. They should be made aware of any specific safety rules relating to the problem.
  3. Allow the group time to devise a strategic approach to each problem.
  4. Allow the participants to initiate the plan and include all members in the task.
  5. Review and conclude the problem, focusing on the team building aspect, personal development and how they achieved the outcome.

Participation

Repeat the 5 steps above for each challenge.

It is up to your discretion how involved you get with the activity, remember to not take over. It is essential that all group members are involved with the tasks and achieve their objective through teamwork and use of the learning cycle.

Try not to get involved with the groups attempts at solving the problem unless needed e.g. conflict, straying away from the task etc. However, be ready to intervene to guide group back on task through re-looking at original plan and adapting if needed.

Reviewing 

Review the group’s performance over the whole activity; refer back to weaknesses to see how they overcame these. Explore and discuss the positive differences you have seen in them from the start to the end of the activity.

Example questions for review:

  • Why was it important that you worked together a team?
  • How did you planning change from one challenge to the next?
  • When else would you need to plan, review and adapt? How can this applied to work/school etc?
  • State one positive difference you have seen in yourself during the activity?
  • Did you have a leader for the challenges? How important was that role and why?

Hint and Tips

When supervising the challenges, ensure that you position yourself appropriately, so you have full view and can intervene at appropriate points if required to do so.

You can also make problems either harder or easier depending on the ability of the group.

Here are a few strategies:

  • Add time constraints to the problem.
  • Introduce the ‘Talking Stick’ to aid listening to others.
  • Nominate or elect a leader (normally someone who’s been quiet or can’t get their opinion across).
  • Introduce time silences for verbally dominant group members.

Identify weak areas of teamwork and chose a relevant problem to help improve this. After each challenge, ensure you get the group to identify any weaknesses and discuss these.

 



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