IAF Methods

Team Jigsaw Puzzle Game

by for . Last edit was about 2 years ago
45 - 60 26 - 50

Team-building and communications module

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To promote team-building and create awareness for need to work cross-functionally


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  • one puzzle per table


Setting: one puzzle per table, preferably with large enough piece for 6-8 people to put together

Ideal conditions: large room with round tables with 6-8 persons per table

Pre-Work Required: Source the puzzles and create the debriefing questions. Take one piece from each puzzle and placed it in another team's puzzle so that no team can complete its puzzle without going to other teams.

This exercise works best as part of a team building and/or communications module where one of the objectives is to get teams to work cooperatively with other teams or departments to accomplish a task. 

The exercise involves setting a context that this is a game, a competition among teams to see which can put together their puzzle in the shortest period of time. Each table gets the same puzzle. The puzzles are handed to the teams and timed to see which achives the completed puzzle first. What the teams don't know is that you have taken one piece from each puzzle and placed it in another team's puzzle so that no team can complete its puzzle without going to other teams to try to trade piece until they get what they need.

is important to facilitate a debriefing after the exercise to allow participants to reflect on what happened, how they felt about it, what led them to discover something else was needed; what worked well, what didn't, what learn, etc.

The rest of the module then can use the experience and learnings form this exercise as a platform on which to build for improving teamwork, communications, cooperative learning, etc.

Usual or Expected Outcomes: heightened awareness for the need to work cross-team and cross-functions to complete a task effectively

Potential pitfalls: none really, other than some pieces of the puzzles may get lost

How success is evaluated: there is a visible "aha" in the group when they realize the only way to win is to cooperate with other teams

Examples of successes and failures: several organizations have reported back that their teams are working cross-functionally in new ways since the teambuilding module


Source: unknown; this exercise has been around awhile

Derived from: I first learned about it from Gary Austin

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