Problem Solving Exercise: With a Little Help From My Friends

Problem Solving Exercise: With a Little Help From My Friends


This exercise aims to introduce an effective method for problem solving and brainstorming within teams. It demonstrates the efficiency of using other’s experiences and expertise in solving problems and dealing with challenging situations.


A group of delegates to help solving a specific problem

What You Need

  • Chairs for delegates
  • A flip chart for each group
  • Marker pens


  • Divide the delegates into groups of 5 people.
  • Ask each group to sit in a circle with a flip chart and marker pens nearby.
  • Choose a member of the group randomly and ask him to explain his problem to the group as clearly as possible in 2 minutes.
  • Once the problem has been stated, explain that others in the group have 5 minutes to ask any questions to clarify the problem and gain a better understanding of the issue. They, however, cannot offer any solutions.
  • After 5 minutes, ask the delegate with the problem to push his chair backwards, out of the circle about a meter and ask him to quietly observe the session until instructed otherwise.
  • Explain to the group that they have 10 minutes to explore the problem and brainstorm possible solutions. They can use the flipchart and pens for brainstorming.
  • Ask the delegate with the problem to join the group in their discussion and offer suggestions.
  • Give the person with the problem 2 minutes to explain what he has gained from this session and if the group has helped him to come up with any solutions.


Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes

Activity: 20 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes


Ask delegates if they found this exercise helpful? Did they come up with new ways of looking at a problem? Would they use this method or a similar set up in future for problem solving? How effective is it to use a group of people in finding solutions?

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