The Jigsaw Challenge

There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle - Deepak Chopra

Jigsaw puzzles were invented around 1760, when John Spilsbury, a British engraver and cartographer, mounted a map on a sheet of wood, which he then sawed around the outline of each individual country on the map. He then used the resulting pieces as an aid for the teaching of geography. What started as wooden puzzles quickly morphed into cardboard based puzzles that were cheaper and handy to move around. And what started as an educational aid quickly transformed into entertainment for the masses.

Many of us would recall having spent hours on end, especially during summer holidays being immersed in solving jigsaw puzzles – oblivious to time, food or the persistent calls of our parents! Scientists now have a name for this state of existence – it is called being in flow. Russian scientist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that the best work that we do as humans happens when we are in a state of "flow."

What if we could recreate that time from childhood and this state of flow, in a team scenario? What if a few hundred people were to work on bringing to life a giant jigsaw puzzle?

FocusU invites you to the utterly engrossing Jigsaw Challenge!

The activity is kicked off with the team being broken up into smaller working teams of around 6 people each. Each team is handed a satchel of jigsaw pieces to figure out. The clock starts ticking and the mad scramble begins!.... and with that also begins the different quandaries that the team must resolve, if it is to succeed:
• Who does what?
• How do we get going?
• Is there a plan or do we trust in God & luck?
• Who oversees quality?

Like in most team-based challenges – there are the technical issues and then there are the softer issues. Who assumes Leadership? Who keeps the team charged up and going? Who keeps the team on track on timing? And many more.

Slowly but surely, teams find their way in resolving the puzzle. Just when they think they have it all sorted, there comes the curved ball. It would be too straight forward to be called a FocusU challenge otherwise, won’t it?

Do teams give up or keep going? Do they find a way to “make things happen?” Do they ask for help when lost? Do they leverage everyone in the team or do they leave it to some sole warriors to do the needful? The magic of Experiential learning comes through beautifully in this activity – that can be related back to many workplace metaphors.

A few key parameters:


Is the Jigsaw Challenge right for your team?
This activity is perfect for small to large teams where you would want to highlight the fact that it is only when every single piece of execution goes right, that the team achieves a successful outcome. It can also be used to highlight a few other key lessons:
• Taking every single person in a team along is critical
• Over dependence on “star players” is risky
• The handshakes between different functions has to be perfect
• The need for everyone in a team to have a single vision in mind
• The importance of celebrating small wins
• The role of openness, initiative, leadership and taking ownership for an outcome in achieving team success

Immerse your team in taking the Jigsaw Challenge. Will they succeed?

Contact Us today - we will be glad to meet up and discuss the possibilities for your team!