Performance Management Blog

Games during Games – It is puzzling…

Puzzles and Games within Games

I was reading Dan Pink’s book Drive about the impacts and benefits of intrinsic motivation and the distinct advantages of intrinsic over extrinsic rewards for anything other than rote kinds of repetitive tasks. He mentions the fact that many people are motivated to simply solve problems. And I remembered a recent conversation with Thiagi as to how he uses some of his brief games to actually debrief his other games, and that got me thinking..

I was thinking about adding some woodA puzzle within a team building game focused on innovation and intrinsic motivationen puzzles like the classic 3-dimensional Soma Puzzle (of Piet Hein) and simply leaving them on the tabletops, only to ask during the debriefing if anyone solved the puzzle. Or, putting a dissembled one on the table (the one I bought from MonkeyPodGames comes in a nice square wooden box) and asking if someone at the table could put it back into the box before the end of the session…

My guess is that people would fiddle with the pieces (there are 240 possible combinations), and that if I left it on the table with the pieces apart, that someone would figure it out with no “management.”

The basic idea is that people are intrinsically motivated to solve problems and that they will put the mental time in on doing that without any “support” of management — that in the workplace, they will be intrinsically motivated to identify and solve issues and problems if we simply allow them to. It would be a most excellent learning point for the main activity.

Does anyone have information about having done this or any thoughts on how to optimize the learning point that we do not need to provide external rewards when we are simply trying to involve and engage people in “workplace activities,” like solving problems.

This could be done for SWs sessions or for tabletop team building games like Lost Dutchman and the Square Wheels games like Innovate & Implement. The fact that they did that (and maybe more than one time) would make for an added learning point in the debriefings. People will do things they want to do and they are motivated to fix things that need fixing…

People ARE driven to solve problams, which is one reason why labeling something a Square Wheel works so well to drive the suggestions and collections of Round Wheel ideas.

I&I gameboard 20

You can find out more about our Innovate & Implement Exercise Toolkit by clicking on this link. It is bundled with a complete set of tools that enable the identification of issues and ideas about innovation and problem solving, plus tools for implementing improvement.

People have FUN solving problems, so translate that into workplace improvement and intrinsic motivation.

Scott small pic



Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:

<a rel=”author” href=”″ a>

Dr. Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of the amazing Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game and the Square Wheels facilitation and engagement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced global presenter. -- You can reach Scott at and a detailed profile is here: -- Scott is the original designer of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game and the Square Wheels® images for organizational development.

Subscribe to the blog




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like