Your Piece of the Puzzle

Type of Initiative:    Problem Solving, Conflict Resolution

 Purpose:     To help a group see the importance of understanding the whole picture.

 Source:  Lynette Voss, Heather Westbrook, Aletheia Schmidt, Shanna Conner 

Published in:   Setting the Conflict Compass, by Michelle Cummings with Mike Anderson

Props Needed:  Two pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 paper, square “Post-it” note size paper, markers, and tape

Group Size:   4–12 


Step 1:

Create a master picture on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper. This should be something that is fairly complex (a picture of someone’s face is a good thing to use: see attached picture). Make sure to use a black-on-white drawing.  Hard edges are best in helping participants to re-create this picture.

Step 2:

After the master has been created, make a duplicate of it. This will be the copy you will cut up and hand to participants. Make sure to cut pieces evenly, in small squares, so when participants try to re-create their picture on a Post-it note, it is as close as possible to the original.

Step 3:

Have participants replicate the markings of the unique square they are given on their Post-it note.  Inform participants the picture needs to be drawn “to scale.”  (The small square from the 8 1/2” x 11” piece will be smaller than their “Post-it” note.) 

Step 4:

Have the group collectively put the picture together on a hard surface (floor, desk, or whiteboard works well). If you haven’t used Post-it notes, you will need to supply tape.

Important Points:

Make sure to create two or three small cards that do not fit into the master picture. This is done on purpose with the intent of helping the group understand the point that everyone needs to have the correct information to solve the puzzle.  If everyone does not have a piece of the same puzzle, the puzzle cannot be completed.

It might help to refer to The Other Side activity in this book and talk about having different perspectives.  In conflict, you must see each of the small pieces, as well as the whole, in order to have complete understanding. 

Variation:  Use a product like The Community Puzzle™ to create your master design.  

Debriefing Topics:   

  •  How important was it for you to get your drawing “right?”
  • How important was it for you to know what the full picture looked like?
  • Were you more concerned with knowing where your piece went?  Why or why not?  
  • How can you apply the learning from this activity back to the workplace?

Purchase from the Training Wheels store: Setting the Conflict Compass, Community Puzzle

Material in this Online Games Database is copyrighted.  Copyright ©  Training Wheels or by the author who submitted the activity.  Permission needed to copy or reproduce.