7 Easy problem-solving activities & how your team benefits from them

Problem Solving Activities


“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.” – Robert Schuller

Problem-solving activities are a great way to know how team members identify problems, the way they react to them, how quickly they can find potential solutions, and then implement the best one.

When working with a team, there are not one but several types of problems that might occur and as a leader, your mindset should be to guide your team to solve those problems.

You have to take the initiative to make your team better at generating creative solutions when things go wrong.

In this article, you will find 7 easy problem-solving activities designed to encourage teamwork and unlock your team’s creativity.

7 of the easiest problem-solving activities for teams of all sizes

There are some amazing creative activities out there that can work well for team building. These will help you put your team’s problem-solving abilities to the test while they learn how to bring their best qualities forward for effective collaboration.

These creative problem-solving games will break the monotony at the workplace and help you build a more inclusive and welcoming environment for the whole team for effective team building. Here are some of the easiest activities that will help bring substantial change to your team culture and the workplace as a whole.

1. Human knots

Helps with: Collaboration & communication skills 

Estimated time: 15-20 minutes

Things you’ll need: Nothing 

How to do it: 

Make your team stand in a small circle. If your team is large, then you can divide it into smaller groups and make them stand in multiple circles. Each person should hold the hands of two other people standing in the circle, but not of those who are standing directly beside them. 

This should result in creating a “human knot.” The fun part (also the challenging) begins now. Ask each member of the group to untangle themselves without letting go of each other’s hands. You can set a time limit if you want. You can watch your team members as they work out moves to untangle their bodies. 

This activity gives them a chance to communicate and collaborate to solve the problem quickly. They may or may not fully entangle themselves but would have started to work together to solve the problem. 

Why communication is essential to problem-solving

When working as a team, no problem is big enough. A bunch of committed individuals can collaborate to overcome even the most difficult of hurdles. When all team members come together and put in a joint effort as per strategy, the problem will likely be resolved sooner.

Having problems communicating your ideas to the team? Use ProofHub discussions to keep track of ideas and important pitches.

2. A shrinking vessel

Helps with: Adaptability & Quick Thinking 

Estimated time: 10-15 Minutes 

Things you’ll need: A rope and a ball of yarn 

How to do it: 

Take a rope and place it on the floor in a particular shape such that all your team members can stand inside it. If your team is large, you can use multiple ropes and divide your team into smaller groups. 

The challenging part starts when all team members are made to stand inside the rope, and you start to shrink the rope slowly. As space reduces, team members will have to make subtle adjustments to maintain their position as well as balance inside the shrinking circle. 

No one should step outside the circle. The challenge before your team is to quickly think together about how to keep everyone inside the circle. 

Why adaptability is essential to problem-solving

This amazingly effective problem-solving activity is for teams who are facing adaptability issues. Adaptability and cognitive diversity go hand in hand, which enables your team to work out things faster. People and organizations that can adapt quickly usually come out on top because they can condition themselves to change circumstances and environments and take on board new ideas and concepts.  

3. Marshmallow spaghetti tower

Helps with: Collaboration 

Estimated time: 20-30 Minutes 

Things you’ll need (per team): 

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

How to do it: 

Ask your team to utilize all the available materials to construct the tallest tower within a specific period. The tower must stand on its own and be able to support a marshmallow. 

The point behind this problem-solving activity is to train the team to think on their feet while encouraging prototyping and iteration. This activity also helps to promote and build strong camaraderie and leadership. 

Why collaboration is essential to problem-solving – 

Peter Singe, in the Fifth Discipline, writes, “Collectively, we can be more insightful, more intelligent than we can be individual.” This means we can solve problems better when working as a team than we can alone. 

This problem-solving activity emphasizes team collaboration, which is crucial for the success of any group, irrespective of its size. It also shows that success is dependent upon close collaboration between team members.

4. Frostbite

Helps with: Decision Making, Trust, Leadership

Estimated time: 20-30 Minutes 

Things you’ll need: 

  • Blindfolds
  • An electric fan 
  • Construction materials (toothpicks, cardstock, rubber bands, sticky notes, etc.)

How to do it: 

Divide your team into groups of 4-5 people each (applicable for large teams). Each team should have its leader to guide them. Remember, team leaders, are not allowed to use their hands in any way to help their respective groups. Now, the fun part of this problem-solving activity is that team members are blindfolded, so they can’t use their hands! 

Every team is given 30 minutes to build a tent. The time is set to create a sense of urgency within the team. For example, give your team a scenario where they have to make a tent to save themselves from approaching thunderstorms. The tent should be able to withstand high winds from the storm.

After the game is over, you can turn on the fan to see which tent can stand on its own even after withstanding winds blowing at high speed. 

This problem-solving activity aims to improve the listening skills of team members to execute the task as per the leader’s instructions. 

Why decision-making is essential to problem-solving

When managing teams and projects, team managers are burdened with the responsibility of making decisions that concern all. Decision-making is essential to problem-solving because if the right decision is taken at the right time, it could resolve the problem, eventually benefiting the entire team and the organization.

5. Egg drop

Helps with: Decision Making & Collaboration 

Estimated time: 10-15 Minutes 

Things you’ll need: 

  • A carton of eggs
  • Construction materials (balloons, rubber bands, straws, tape, plastic wrap, etc.)
  • A place where you can let things get messy! 

How to do it: 

Give a single egg to each team and let it choose randomly from different construction materials. The task that is to be assigned to each team is that it has to create a carrier for an egg that prevents it from breaking. 

Once teams are done with creating carriers, place an egg in them and drop them (from over a ledge or a balcony), one by one. The purpose is to find which team’s carrier (s) can save an egg from breaking.

If multiple eggs remain unbroken, you can keep increasing the height of the fall to find out the last egg that survives even after falling from a higher height. The winning team is the one that created the most durable carrier that survived until the last.  

The idea behind this problem-solving activity is to encourage all members of the team to work together towards achieving the common goal. 

Why teamwork is essential to problem-solving

Joint efforts by a group of individuals to achieve the set target by utilizing limited resources can save the organization valuable time, money, and resources. 

6. Dumbest idea first 

How it helps: Critical Thinking & Creative Problem Solving 

Estimated time: 15-20 minutes 

Things you’ll need: A piece of paper, pen, and pencil 

How to do it: 

As the name of this problem-solving activity suggests, the idea is to present a problem to your team and ask them to quickly come up with the dumbest ideas for the problem at hand. This could be a real-world problem that your team is facing, or it could be an imagined scenario. 

Once all team members have written down the dumbest ideas, they could think of, evaluate every idea to determine which ones are most likely to work and which ones are least likely to be seen as a viable solution that can work. 

How critical thinking is essential to problem-solving

Some problems need to be solved by out-of-the-box thinking. Creative problem-solving ideas might sound unorthodox to work, but these give you additional options to consider. You can discover some solutions that might not be obvious to start with but can be incredibly effective in delivering expected results. 

Brainstorm these dumb (or not so dumb) ideas in ProofHub through online chat. And start your uninterrupted collaborative journey for FREE today. 

7. Escape

How it helps: Communication, Problem-solving, & Management

Estimated time: 20-30 Minutes 

Things you’ll need: 

  • A lockable room
  • One rope
  • One key
  • 5-10 puzzles or clue 

How to do it: 

Hike the key and a list of clues around the room. Ask team members to solve all the clues to find the key and unlock the room to escape within the allotted time. Hide the clues and, most importantly, the key around the room. 

Ask all team members to enter the room and lock the door. Give them 30 minutes or 1 hour to find the key using the clues hidden in the room. This problem-solving activity can get your team going up and running as they race against the time to find a solution to the problem at hand. 

How putting intensive efforts is essential to problem-solving

Complex problems require an intensive team effort. Your team can achieve specific, time-bound goals by collaborating closely and thinking quickly under pressure.

What team problems are these activities going to solve?

1. Lack of mutual trust

Trust is the basis of strong relationships. No team can hope to achieve success if members do not want to engage with each other and make that human connection that is so vital for them for better collaboration.

Lack of mutual trust
Lack of mutual trust

Team members should first know each other well, both professionally and personally, primarily before they are assigned a large, complex project where tensions will run high at some point. 

2. Not having a central location for information sharing

When some team members do not get easy access to crucial information related to a project, it can lead to a dreaded information gap within the team. Scattered information makes matters worse for managers and team members.

Not having a central location for information sharing
Not having a central location for information sharing

Having all the information stored and organized in a single location, in the form of files and folders, makes information accessibility easy for all team members. Team members can collaborate on them effectively, review, proof, and share feedback in one place, which saves a whole lot of time.

3. Lack of transparency

“According to an American Psychological Association survey that spoke to more than 1,500 workers, it was found that 50% didn’t feel that their employers shared the information they required to be successful within their jobs.”

For any project to be a success, teams, managers, and clients must be on the same page. Without transparency, trust will take a backseat within the team, and it can lead to a plethora of problems that can spell doomsday for the company. 

Lack of transparency
Lack of transparency

The task of establishing transparency starts at the top. Project managers are responsible for setting a prime example for their team members in terms of the way they conduct themselves. Employees are likely to follow their leader’s behaviors, positive or negative, and it becomes your responsibility to inspire them through positive actions.  

4. Poor communication 

“David Grossman reported in “The Cost of Poor Communications” that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.”

Poor communication
Poor communication

Poor communication happens when it doesn’t happen regularly across the team, and not all members participate in it. It can also occur when team members interrupt one another, maintain silence, and indicate problems but fail to address them formally. Some members may nod in agreement but may not agree in reality. 

Using different communication modes can bridge the gap between team members. At the same time, encouraging members to share their ideas and concerns openly can also help clear any misunderstandings, doubts, and confusion. 

5. Lack of purpose 

One in two employees report that their jobs lack purpose, and an equal number feel disconnected from their company’s mission.”

Lack of purpose
Lack of purpose

If I think about the teams I least enjoyed working with, they were the ones that had a vague understanding of what exactly their purpose was and how they planned to achieve that goal. It’s hard to put in your best efforts when you don’t know the purpose behind the work you’re doing. The most satisfying teamwork occurs when the purpose is well-defined and team members are aligned with each other. 

6. Conflict and tension 

$359 billion in paid hours or the equivalent of 385 million working days are lost each year due to workplace conflict.”  

Conflict and tension 
Conflict and tension 

Conflicts and tension can be healthy and trigger useful debates if managed carefully. However, team members can cross the line often. The negative effects of workplace conflict include but are not limited to, poor productivity, absenteeism, work disruptions, project failure, lower retention rates, and termination. Different opinions in the workplace are common, but it’s their mishandling that can spell troubles for an organization.

Team leaders can practice constructive criticism to make employees realize their shortcomings without making them feel humiliated. You can appreciate their strong points but should not hesitate to point out their weaknesses (in performance or conduct) in an affirmative tone.  

7. Uncertainty of roles 

This is a common problem, especially among large teams. Some team members are not clear about their roles; what are they supposed to do, and when. At the end of the day, the blame game happens. Team members blame their managers and vice versa, and it’s all due to poor task management. 

Uncertainty of roles
Uncertainty of roles

By creating and assigning custom roles, managers can allow team members or clients to do things that fall under their work domain and job responsibilities. 

8. Lack of motivation 

“When managers recognize employees’ contribution, their engagement increases by 60%”.

Having demotivated employees working for you is probably the biggest misfortune of your organization. However, have you ever tried to find out the reason for some of your employees losing motivation? It can be due to not being appreciated at work, not feeling like a part of the team, personal reasons, etc. 

Lack of motivation
Lack of motivation

Whatever the reason may be, a team manager should quickly confront the situation to solve it for good. Having one-on-one discussions with team members can go a long way in helping you to know about the exact reasons behind their below-par performance and come up with effective solutions. 

What are the benefits of these problem-solving activities?

But how problem-solving activities are going to help me, my team members, and the organization?” Many readers, especially team managers, must have this question in mind while reading this article. 

I understand that readers want to know how problem-solving activities can benefit them. So, I have prepared a list of the pros of such activities to develop positivity in the workplace. Read on to know more about it. 

1. Better thinking

Problem-solving activities help in bringing about the best in every member of the team. Every member enthusiastically puts forth his unique idea of solving the problem. This helps team managers to weigh in different solutions for resolving a problem and then choose the most suitable one. In other words, this process stimulates better thinking. 

Better thinking
Better thinking

For example – A remote team with widely dispersed members was struggling with a lack of communication. Emails and texting were just not good enough. Mike was leading the team, and he asked all members to suggest ways to improve communication within the remote team. 

John suggested using online chat software for instant group or individual chat, Sid suggested using video conferencing software for daily team meetings, and Shane suggested using telephonic calls, texting, and emails for official communication. 

As a result of quick thinking and sharing of ideas, Mike and his team benefited greatly by using different communication modes to share information and feedback easily.  

2. Better risk handling 

Some people can handle a higher amount of risk. It’s because they have successfully dealt with difficult situations before. Team problem-solving activities help in conditioning the minds of individuals so they can respond to stressful situations better. 

Better risk handling 
Better risk handling

3. Better communication 

Regular communication between team members can help to solve problems efficiently. Problem-solving activities within teams foster cooperation and intra-team communication, which eventually creates a better understanding between team members.

Better communication
Better communication

Try ProofHub TODAY for on-time project delivery and on-point team accountability.”

4. Improved productivity output

When a team works as a strong unit, the company or organization experiences improved productivity, which eventually leads to improved profit margins. The involvement of managers and team members in problem-solving activities can have a positive result for the company in terms of overall growth and profitability. 

Improved productivity output

How management tools can help you sort out your team collaboration problems

Even though the aforementioned problem-solving activities can be amazingly effective in enhancing collaboration and communication within your team, there’s no denying the fact that using a top-rated team collaboration and project management software like ProofHub can help team managers solve quite a few problems efficiently. 

Whether you’re having trouble with delayed communication, poor organization of files and folders, poor time management, inadequate task management, or low control over teams and projects, ProofHub is your all-in-one solution to put an end to your managerial woes and help you and your team achieve more in less. 

Some powerful features of ProofHub include: 

  • Workflows and Kanban Boards
  • Online Proofing
  • Gantt Charts
  • Group Chat
  • Online Discussions
  • Custom Reports
  • Timer and Timesheets
  • Third-party Integrations
  • Announcements
  • IP Restrictions 

Pricing – Simple pricing for all team sizes. For information on our pricing plans, kindly visit our pricing page.

The final thought

Many organizations face a plethora of problems that haunt their teams consistently. These problems have a rippling effect on the team’s performance, hamper its productivity, and cause delays in the organizational goals. 

However, problem-solving activities can bring all members closer as a team and encourage them to contribute to resolving problems effectively while having fun. These easy problem-solving activities can improve your team’s solutions-generating capabilities, eventually benefiting everyone.

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