Even the most organized and efficient company regularly runs into problems. Every day, workers face challenges ranging from minor to major. Communication breakdowns, unhappy customers and looming deadlines are just some of the many examples of obstacles that workers must regularly overcome.
There are many ways to learn how to be better at problem-solving. Fortunately, they don’t all involve hours in front of a screen or reading lengthy guides.
Team building problem-solving activities are a great way to strengthen problem-solving skills while having fun at the same time. What’s more, problem-solving activities at team-building events also teach collaboration, patience and critical thinking–all crucial to great problem-solving.
In this article, we discuss the benefits of problem-solving team-building activities. We also list eight you can do with your workgroup to improve your ability to overcome challenges.
The Benefits of Team Building Problem-Solving Activities
Apart from teaching and honing problem-solving skills, team-building activities that involve identifying and addressing challenges offer other benefits.
- They Serve As Ice-breakers: Problem-solving team building activities present an excellent opportunity for team members to get to know each other. It’s more fun–and less awkward–than the usual way of introducing yourself, which typically involves having employees state their name and position as well as share an interesting fact about themselves.
- They Foster Camaraderie: In a positive and supportive environment, problem-solving activities promote harmonious relationships among co-workers. Working together to overcome challenges strengthens team bonds and builds mutual respect. It encourages open communication and the appreciation of each team member’s unique skills. Additionally, these activities often result in laughter, helping reduce any tension between team members.
- They Teach Collboration and Creativity: During these activities, team members learn to leverage each other’s strengths, communicate efficiently and brainstorm new ways to solve challenges. By working together and thinking out of the box, team members improve their creativity while developing respect for their workers’ contributions.
Eight Problem-Solving Team Building Activities for Your Work Group
While problem-solving might seem simple on the surface, it’s a complex process that requires an open mind, creativity, patience and the ability to collaborate with others to come up with a solution.
Most workplaces prefer to hire employees who display good problem-solving skills. However, just like any skill, honing problem-solving abilities takes practice. The following team building problem-solving activities will help keep this skill sharp so that you and your workgroup can apply it effectively when the time comes to use it.
Activity 1: A Shrinking Vessel
This activity helps with adaptability, which, in turn, is essential for problem-solving. The ability to adapt allows teams to solve problems more quickly as well as remain resilient in the face of disruption and encourages innovation.
What You’ll Need:
A piece of rope or string
1. Using the rope, create a shape on the floor big enough for every member of the team to stand in.
2. Every 10-15 minutes, make the shape smaller.
3. Your team should work together to find ways to stay inside the shape, even as it slowly gets smaller.
Activity 2: Lego Copycat Challenge
This activity helps build trust among team members and exercise their creative problem-solving skills. The goal is to rebuild a Lego structure relying only on verbal instructions from a teammate. The other team members are not allowed to see the Lego structure they’re copying.
What You’ll Need:
1. Divide the team into small groups.
2. Have the facilitator or another person who isn’t part of any groups build a Lego structure in 10 minutes.
3. Place the Lego structure behind a screen or anywhere where the team members cannot see it.
4. Each team must choose one representative to deliver building instructions. The rest of the team must rebuild the structure in 15 minutes or less.
5. Only the representatives can look at the Lego structure. They must figure out how to instruct their teams to rebuild it. For instance, they can help their teams build the copycat structure by describing its shape, color and size.
Activity 3: Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower
The goal of this activity is to build the tallest tower possible using spaghetti and marshmallows. The tower must be able to stand on its own.
This activity teaches collaboration, which is necessary for problem-solving. In the workplace, employees must learn to work together and leverage each other’s skills to find the best solution for a problem.
What You’ll Need (Per Team):
- 1 roll of masking tape
- 1 yard of string
- 20 uncooked spaghetti noodles
- 1 marshmallow
1. Split the team into small groups.
2. Each group must build a tower using the provided masking tape, string and spaghetti noodles.
3. Once the tower is finished, it must be topped with a marshmallow.
The winner of the activity is the team able to build the tallest tower that can stand independently.
Activity 4: Frostbite
This activity is a great way to strengthen your team’s decision-making skills and adaptability.
What You’ll Need (Per Team):
- Construction materials (Like rubber bands, tape, construction paper, card stock and toothpicks)
- An electric fan
1. Have your team pretend to be Arctic explorers who need to make shelters to protect them from the storm that’s about to hit.
2. Divide the team into small groups. Each one must choose a leader to serve as their guide.
3. The leader has “frostbite” and cannot use their hands. Meanwhile, the rest of the team is snowblind (blindfolded).
4. Each group must build a shelter within 30 minutes using the materials provided.
Once the timer’s up, the facilitator should turn on the fan to test which shelter can withstand the storm.
Activity 5: Human Knots
This activity teaches how to think clearly and communicate well, even when dealing with a complicated and challenging task. Your team will also learn how to evaluate several solutions to find the one that works best.
What You Need:
This activity requires no materials or props–Just the members of your team.
1. If you have a small team, have them form a circle. Larger teams can create multiple circles.
2. Have team members hold hands with two other people not standing beside them. This should result in a “knot” of arms.
3. Have your team members untangle themselves without letting go of their co-workers’ hands.
By the end of the activity, your team should have discussed several ways to untangle the “human knot” and implemented their chosen method. You or the facilitator can quickly evaluate the effectiveness of their approach by how well they’ve managed to unknot themselves or if they were able to form a circle again.
Activity 6: Egg Drop
This messy but fun activity teaches decision-making. At the workplace, it’s often necessary to make tough decisions quickly. This decision-making exercise encourages your team to make smart choices without hesitation and tackle challenges head-on.
What You’ll Need:
- An outdoor space or any place where it’s okay to make a mess
- A dozen eggs
- Construction materials like plastic wrap, balloons, newspapers and rubber bands
- A drop cloth
1. Choose a “landing site” and place a drop cloth or tarp on it to help contain any messes.
2. Break the team up into small groups.
3. Give each group an egg.
4. Each team has 20 to 30 minutes to build an “egg carrier” that can effectively keep their eggs from breaking even when dropped from a height.
5. Put each egg carrier to the test by dropping it from a high place, such as a balcony or ledge.
6. If more than one egg survives, increase the drop height until only one remains intact.
Activity 7: Minefield
This engaging activity helps foster communication and collaboration among team members.
What You’ll Need:
- An empty room, such as a conference room
- Office supplies and other items commonly found in workplaces, like water bottles and laptop bags
1. Scatter the office items around the room so that there is no direct path from one side to the other.
2. Split the team into pairs. One person in each pair must be blindfolded.
3. The person who is not blindfolded should verbally guide their partner through the office supplies “minefield” to the opposite side of the room.
4. The guide is not allowed to touch the blindfolded person.
To make this activity even more challenging, you can have all the pairs navigate the minefield simultaneously. This prompts strategic communication and creative thinking.
Activity 8: Popsicle Stick Bridge
This challenge tests and helps strengthen communication and collaboration skills.
What You’ll Need:
- Popsicle sticks
- A paperweight or book
1. Split the team into groups.
2. Each group gets a pack of popsicle sticks and a roll of tape.
3. Within 30 minutes, each group must build a bridge strong enough to support a paperweight, book or similarly heavy small object.
4. The facilitator tests the strength of each bridge using the paperweight or book. If more than one bridge survives the test, use progressively heavier objects until only one bridge remains, and declare the team who built it the winner.
Help Your Team Hone Their Problem Skills With Fun Activities
Problem-solving is an essential skill in the workplace. Through problem-solving team-building activities, you can help enhance your team’s abilities as well as build a culture of collaboration and boost camaraderie.
For more entertaining, engaging and effective team-building activities, turn to Group Dynamix. We create and host events that are fun, interactive and purposeful to provide the best learning experience possible for our guests.
Get in touch with us at (972) 416-9646 to book an event or learn more about our services.