What Is a Problem-Solving Game? (With Examples and Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Having strong problem-solving skills can be useful in any career or industry. These skills help you think of unique and effective solutions to common challenges you face at work. Learning more about the ways to improve or develop these skills can help you become more effective in your role. In this article, we explain what a problem-solving game is, discuss the benefits of participating in one, and offer examples of games and activities you can complete with your team members at work.

What is a problem-solving game?

A problem-solving game is an interactive challenge that aims to teach, promote, and encourage the practice of analyzing problems and developing solutions for them. By participating in problem-solving games and activities, you can increase your higher-order thinking skills, develop leadership skills, and focus on learning as a process rather than an outcome. Crucial steps in the problem-solving process include:

  • Identifying and defining problems in a situation

  • Creating possible solutions

  • Evaluating possible solutions and selecting the most appropriate one

  • Implementing solutions

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Benefits of problem-solving activities and games

The opportunity for you to practise problem-solving skills, such as active listening, analysis, creativity, and communication, can help you develop and strengthen those skills for use in both personal and professional environments. The main benefits of problem-solving games and activities include:

Skill development

While the main benefit of problem-solving activities and games is that they help you develop and improve problem-solving skills, they can also help with other skills. These games can assist you with developing and improving physical skills, like hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and motor skills. They can also help with mental skills, like analytical skills and creative thinking.

Cognitive growth

Participation in problem-solving activities and games enables you to practise cognitive actions, helping you develop and improve skills like creative thinking. These games help you with cognitive growth, as you can recall the rules, remember consequences, and use logic to make informed decisions. You can also learn how to think creatively and strategically by planning actions in advance, resulting in a higher retention rate of skills.

Related: What Is Cognitive Ability? Definition and Examples

Immediate feedback

Participating in problem-solving activities as a team helps employees see immediate results from their actions. This allows them to assess their skill set and determine what areas still require improvement. It also helps team members offer and receive constructive feedback to continue improving.

Related: How to Give Feedback Constructively in the Workplace

Motivation and engagement

Games can provide a more entertaining environment for learning. Their interactive, goal-oriented nature promotes a sense of achievement for all participants and helps build relationships. Participants see an immediate consequence of decisions, which can help them better understand cause-and-effect relationships.

Problem-solving activities for the workplace

Here's a list of effective and compelling problem-solving activities you can use in the workplace:

Water balloon toss

This challenge is best done outside. Fill balloons with water and have pairs stand about a metre apart. Instruct team members to toss water balloons back and forth, trying not to drop them. The team that stays the driest wins. This game is fun, interactive, and encourages team members to create a strategy that can help them win.

Build the tallest tower

Provide groups with materials they can use to build a tower, such as spaghetti or pretzels, marshmallows, and tape. Teams have 30 minutes to build the tallest tower possible. The requirements are that it can stand without help for a pre-determined amount of time, such as a minute. If there's a tie, try seeing which tower can withstand an earthquake by shaking the surface. This activity encourages team members to use their problem-solving skills and creative thinking to build the sturdiest tower.

Sell an item on your desk

Instruct everyone to pick a random item from their desk and meet together in a conference room. Once gathered, indicate that they are to sell their chosen item to the others. This exercise helps build creativity and harbour a positive environment through friendly competition. It's also a good activity for sales or customer service teams who want to reach their sales goals and increase revenue for the company.

Two truths and a lie

Provide each team member with an index card or sheet of paper. Instruct them to write two truths and one lie about themselves on the paper. Everyone then gets a turn introducing themselves in front of the room and reading off the items they wrote on the card. The rest of the room guess which statements are true and which one is a lie. This encourages them to think logically about what they know about the speaker to make an informed decision. It can also be a good icebreaker activity for new teams to get to know each other.

Related: 17 Effective Icebreaker Activities for Groups of Adults

Human knot

The human knot is an activity that requires no materials but can still be an effective problem-solving game at work. Participants stand in a circle and hold hands with two different people not directly next to them. This action creates a knot. Then, without letting go of any hands, the group unties the knot, forming a perfect circle. This activity helps improve collaboration and communication skills as teams work together to find a way to untie the knot.

Escape room

Escape rooms are a concept that has gained popularity as a form of recreation but remains an excellent option for problem-solving within work teams. The team gathers in a room and someone locks them inside. The game's goal is to solve puzzles and understand clues hidden within the room, which leads to the discovery of a hidden key. Most escape rooms have a time limit to enhance the rigour of the challenge. This exercise helps participants practise effective communication, creative thought process, and collaboration to overcome obstacles.

Crossword puzzles

While crosswords are a simple activity, creating one or supplying one to your team to complete together can improve their teamwork and problem-solving skills. It allows them to brainstorm together to find the answers to clues you offer. If you create your own crossword puzzle, you can tailor it to your team by making it about industry terms or trends, company knowledge, or even your team's shared interests. This can help keep them more engaged with the activity.

Trivia

Trivia is another simple game you can use to help teams improve their analytical and problem-solving skills. Team members can work together or independently to answer questions about a certain topic, such as industry terms, math, or science. You can include a variety of questions, such as multiple choice, fill in the blank, or short answer. Thinking about each question to provide an informed answer encourages team members to be analytical.

Treasure hunts

Creating a virtual or in-person treasure hunt is a great interactive activity that team members can complete together to improve collaboration and independent thinking. Create clues that lead your team members to other prompts or hints. The final clue can lead to a treasure, such as a voucher for lunch or a paid day off.

What would x do?

If you and your team have a problem you can't find a solution to, you can quickly play the game, what would x do? Each person on your team pretends to be someone famous. They then approach the problem as if they were the famous person to consider how they might solve the issue. This encourages team members to consider other perspectives, helping them develop solutions they may not have originally thought about.

Stranded

Get everyone on your team to meet in an office and tell them they're stranded within it. Give them half an hour to pick 10 items in the room they can use for survival. Then, ask them to rank those items from the most to least important. Everyone agrees on the items and ranking within the time limit. This activity helps improve decision-making and communication skills, which are vital for effective problem solving.

Great egg drop

You provide teams of three to four with an egg, masking tape, and straws. The challenge is to build a structure that may protect the egg from being broken when dropped from a designated area or height, such as the top of the office building. Through cooperation, this activity encourages creativity, adaptability, teamwork, and communication skills.

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