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Problem Solving Exercise: Help Me Help You

Problem Solving Exercise: Help Me Help You


This exercise helps delegates to become more creative when faced with work related issues. This activity also encourages seeking help from colleagues when dealing with difficult situations and demonstrates the value of others’ advice in overcoming difficulties.

Objective

Participants should solve the problems presented by other delegates in a predefined amount of time.

Setup

  • Get the participants to sit in a circle.
  • Each participant has a pen and a sheet of paper.
  • Each delegate has two minutes to write down a current work issue on the paper. Delegates pass the sheet to the person on their right.
  • Each person has two minutes to write down an answer or suggestion for the problem described on the paper.
  • Each person then gets the paper with their original question back.

Timing

Explaining the Test: 5 minutes.

Activity: 5-10 minutes

Group Feedback: 20 minutes.

Discussion

Have delegates got any helpful suggestion or advice regarding their problems? How does it feel to ask for help? Why don’t we do it more often?

Variations

If time permits you can extend this activity. Once a person has finished writing an answer, he or she should pass the paper to the next person on the right and repeat until each problem is answered by everyone.

To make this even more valuable, you can make the answers confidential so that no one’s answer affects another. This is how it works:

Assign a number to each person in the circle. They should write this number on the paper with the question on it. Upon receiving the question from the left, each delegate should write an answer on a new sheet of paper, mark it as “Answer for Question X” where X is the assigned number of the question and then place this answer sheet in the middle of the table, face down. The delegates should pass the question sheet to the next person on the right. This is repeated until everyone has answered every question and all questions are placed on the table.

Now go through each question one at a time and examine all answers. Notice if there are any patterns in the solutions and get the delegates to discuss the issues for a fixed amount of time. Emphasise the power and effectiveness of this method and avoid long discussions to solve the issues at hand, which can be carried out later by the group.