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Problem Solving Icebreakers and Energisers

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There are many different processes, methods or techniques that can be used when problem solving and participants will see how important a thorough investigation, idea generation and evaluation, decision making and successful implementation are when finding a creative solution.

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100 Uses - Brainstorming

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To explain what brainstorming involves.
• To identify some key 'rules' for effective brainstorming

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To explain what brainstorming involves.
• To identify some key 'rules' for effective brainstorming

Group Size:
Suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• A selection of household items like a toothbrush or coat hanger.
• Flipchart paper and pens.

Notes:
A small prize for the winning team would be a nice touch.

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Handout
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An Eggs-acting Challenge - Creating a Winning Strategy

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 40 minutes.

Aims:
• To provide participants with a challenge that tests participants’ abilities to work together to solve a problem.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 30 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 40 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To provide participants with a challenge that tests participants’ abilities to work together to solve a problem.

Group Size:
Suitable for use with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels, especially those working together in teams (or who soon will be).

You'll Need:
• Plenty of clear space for the activity and a way of marking the start and finish line of the racetrack.

And for each team:
• Two postal tubes (stoppers removed).
• Two golf balls.
• Six eggs.
• A flipchart pen.

Notes:
This training activity can get messy, so it is best run outside in an open space.

You should also check if any participants have an allergy to eggs. If so, they can assist you in observing.

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Anagram Line up!

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To energise a group.
• To test participants’ abilities to work together quickly to solve a simple problem.
• To introduce the concept of continuous improvement.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To energise a group.
• To test participants’ abilities to work together quickly to solve a simple problem.
• To introduce the concept of continuous improvement.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
All participants.

You'll Need:
• Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This simple activity is one you can return to several times in your training to demonstrate the principles of continuous improvement.

Provided you have more than one team, this activity adds an extra dimension to the remote delivery module, ‘Hands up, Line up!’ by encouraging participants to reflect on how a silo mentality might impact continuous improvement.

Remote/Virtual Delivery:
The Remote Delivery version of this module available in Trainers’ Library is called ‘Hands up, Line up!’.

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Balloon Chase - Creative Problem Solving

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 10 minutes.

Aims:
• To illustrate how assumptions about the nature of a task or problem can get in the way of finding solutions.
• To explore how creativity can help solve problems and encourage continuous improvement.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 10 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To illustrate how assumptions about the nature of a task or problem can get in the way of finding solutions.
• To explore how creativity can help solve problems and encourage continuous improvement.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
One inflated balloon. (We recommend having a couple of spares.)

Notes:
We’d like to thank Resli Costabell for inspiring this icebreaker.

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Brain Power Quiz

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To provide further information about the capacity of the human brain.
• To challenge some of the myths surrounding intelligence.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To provide further information about the capacity of the human brain.
• To challenge some of the myths surrounding intelligence.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of any size.

You'll Need:
• A small prize for the winning team.
• A stopwatch to time the quiz accurately.

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Carrie’s Conundrum - Are Difficult Conversations Necessary?

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To explore why difficult conversations can be necessary and form part of healthy working relationships.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To explore why difficult conversations can be necessary and form part of healthy working relationships.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Anyone.

You'll Need:
• Nothing other than the materials provided.

Remote/Virtual Delivery:
There is a Remote Delivery version of this module available in Trainers’ Library.

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Trainer Notes
Handout
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Course Introduction - A Basic Introduction to Training Events

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To welcome the participants.
• To introduce the facilitator(s) and participants to each other.
• To introduce the facilities.
• To agree the course objectives and timetable.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 25 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To welcome the participants.
• To introduce the facilitator(s) and participants to each other.
• To introduce the facilities.
• To agree the course objectives and timetable.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Downloads
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Trainer Notes
Handout
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Dominoes

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To explore and test leadership, teamwork and problem solving.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To explore and test leadership, teamwork and problem solving.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of almost any size although you do need a minimum of 8 participants.

Useful For:
All staff including managers.

You'll Need:
A set of domino cards. (See trainer's notes for the number you need to print.)

Notes:
You will need to prepare your dominoes in advance as per the instructions in the Trainer's Notes.

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Domino Cards

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Fitting In

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 10 minutes.

Aims:
• To explore how creativity and teamwork makes problem solving easier.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 10 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To explore how creativity and teamwork makes problem solving easier.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of almost any size. However, you will need to put participants into teams if you have over 16 participants.

You'll Need:
• One set of the cards per 16 participants.

Notes:
If you expect to run this exercise on more than one occasion, consider laminating the cards.

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Five Balls - Goal Setting and Motivation

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To energise participants.
• To demonstrate the value of breaking major projects down into small goals.
• To demonstrate how positive thinking will impact upon results.
• To demonstrate effective teamwork.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete (longer for large groups). In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To energise participants.
• To demonstrate the value of breaking major projects down into small goals.
• To demonstrate how positive thinking will impact upon results.
• To demonstrate effective teamwork.

Group Size:
Suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• A large open space.
• A stopwatch.
• Five balls (tennis, juggling or stress balls are ideal).

Notes:
If using this exercise with very large groups, you will need to split participants into smaller teams.

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Getting Knotted - Working Together to Solve a Challenge

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To test participants’ abilities to work together and solve a problem.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to run. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To test participants’ abilities to work together and solve a problem.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of between 6 and 24 participants.

You'll Need:
Two lengths of string (approximately 30cm long) for each participant.

Notes:
This exercise involves bending and twisting and may not be suitable for all participants. Please remind participants to take care in this exercise.

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Goal! - Teamwork and Lateral Thinking

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to think laterally about a problem.
• To encourage participants to work together in order to simplify a task and achieve a better result.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to think laterally about a problem.
• To encourage participants to work together in order to simplify a task and achieve a better result.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 25 participants.

You'll Need:
• Soft balls (4-6 will do).
• A bucket.
• 2 large large newspapers (rolled up).
• 2 blindfolds.

Notes:
You can run this outside, or inside if you’ve sufficient space.

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Golf Ball Challenge - Tactical Teamwork

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To test participants’ abilities to work together to complete a challenge.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 20 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To test participants’ abilities to work together to complete a challenge.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels, especially those working together in teams (or who soon will be).

You'll Need:
• Plenty of clear space for the activity and a way of marking the start and finish line of the racetrack. (Outside is best.)

And for each team:
• Two postal tubes (stoppers removed).
• A golf ball.
• A flipchart pen.

Notes:
A small prize for the winning team would be a nice touch.

For a similar activity, with a different approach, you might like to look at An Eggs-acting Challenge - Creating a Winning Strategy.

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Inspired Rhymes

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to think creatively.
• To help participants feel more confident in their ability to think creatively.
• To recognise the positive impact another person’s ideas can have on our own thoughts.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to think creatively.
• To help participants feel more confident in their ability to think creatively.
• To recognise the positive impact another person’s ideas can have on our own thoughts.

Group Size:
Suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• Enough cards for 1 for every pair of participants.

Notes:
A great exercise to energise a group at the start of a creative thinking or problem solving workshop, or to re-energise them after a break. Larger groups may require duplicate cards and a longer running time.

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Inspired Rhymes Cards

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Jigsaw Race - An Introduction to Communication

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To test participants' communication skills.
• To demonstrate the importance of breaking complex messages down into key points.
• To illustrate the difficulties of communicating using only the voice.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to run. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To test participants' communication skills.
• To demonstrate the importance of breaking complex messages down into key points.
• To illustrate the difficulties of communicating using only the voice.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

You'll Need:
• A blindfold and a small jigsaw puzzle for each pair of participants. (24-30 piece puzzles are ideal.)

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Loop the Hoop - Improving our Solutions

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To energise a group of participants.
• To encourage teamwork and team problem solving.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 5 minutes to run. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To energise a group of participants.
• To encourage teamwork and team problem solving.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of 5 or more participants. If you have more than 10 participants, split them into smaller teams.

You'll Need:
• Hula Hoops (1 or 2 per team).
• A stopwatch.

Notes:
This exercise may not be suitable for some people with a disability.

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Prisoners of Dongia

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 35 minutes.

Aims:
• To test participants ability to work together to solve a communication challenge.
• To encourage participants to think about communication and the importance of being able to communicate with others.
• To consider the importance of checking understanding and taking your whole team with you when change occurs.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 35 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To test participants ability to work together to solve a communication challenge.
• To encourage participants to think about communication and the importance of being able to communicate with others.
• To consider the importance of checking understanding and taking your whole team with you when change occurs.

Group Size:
Suitable for use with groups of up to 12 participants.

Useful For:
Staff of all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
If using this exercise with very large groups, you will need to split participants into smaller teams.

Remote/Virtual Delivery:
There is a Remote Delivery version of this module available in Trainers’ Library.

Downloads

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Pulling in Different Directions

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To explore the positive impact of assertive communication when working with others.
• To describe how communication helped or hindered their problem solving.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To explore the positive impact of assertive communication when working with others.
• To describe how communication helped or hindered their problem solving.

Group Size:
Suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• A length of rope. (We suggest around 1 metre per participant.)
• A blindfold for each participant.

Notes:
If using this exercise with very large groups, you will need volunteers to take part and the remaining participants act as observers.

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Shared Effort - The Importance of Teamwork

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To illustrate the nature and importance of teamwork in a fun way.
• To help teams define teamwork.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To illustrate the nature and importance of teamwork in a fun way.
• To help teams define teamwork.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• One ‘Bendy Person’ for each participant
• One A3 sheet of paper for each participant. (Please note that A4 is not large enough.)

Notes:
This icebreaker is based on an idea contributed by Kim Davies.

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Stepping Stones - Team Development

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage team development.
• To focus discussion on the team's approach to problem solving, communication, success and failure and team leadership.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To encourage team development.
• To focus discussion on the team's approach to problem solving, communication, success and failure and team leadership.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of between 8 and 12 participants.

You'll Need:
• One stepping stone per participant plus one extra. (A stepping stone could be a sheet of paper, or a carpet tile.)

Notes:
If you have an odd number of participants, ask someone to observe.

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The Chicken and the Fox - Clever Problem Solving

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 10 minutes.

Aims:
• To help participants understand the benefits of working with others when tackling problems and challenges.
• To explain why taking time to nurture ideas helps us to tell the good ideas from the bad ones.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to run. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To help participants understand the benefits of working with others when tackling problems and challenges.
• To explain why taking time to nurture ideas helps us to tell the good ideas from the bad ones.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Downloads

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The Shoe Shop - A Customer Service Dilemma

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 25 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to consider the difference between good and bad customer service.
• To reflect on the impact good and bad customer service has on other customers.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 25 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to consider the difference between good and bad customer service.
• To reflect on the impact good and bad customer service has on other customers.

Group Size:
This module can be used with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels, especially those in a customer-facing role.

You'll Need:
• Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This exercise can be run as a stand-alone session or you can follow it up with LACE – Handling Unhappy Customers.

Remote/Virtual Delivery:
There is a Remote Delivery version of this module available in Trainers’ Library.

Downloads
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Trainer Notes
Brief

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The Thinking Brain - Preferred Thinking Styles

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 15 minutes.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to think about their preferred thinking style.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes for completion.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to think about their preferred thinking style.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• Nothing other than the materials provided.

Downloads
Available to Essential
Trainer Notes
Handout
Handout (Word)

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Too Close? - Benefits of a Wider Perspective

Time:
In total we estimate this exercise will take 20 minutes.

Aims:
• To illustrate, in a fun way, the problem with being too close to a situation or problem.

About

Time:
This exercise will take about 5 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 10 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To illustrate, in a fun way, the problem with being too close to a situation or problem.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of almost any size.

You'll Need:
• A small prize for the winner would be a nice addition to this exercise.

Notes:
The PowerPoint will automatically move to the next slide after a minute.

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