David Kwong, a puzzle creator for the New York Times, The LA Times and magician, brings up an interesting fact about human beings: we’re wired to become solvers when presented with problems or illusions. Humans have a need to create order out of chaos, to solve problems and puzzles. Newborns as young as a day old can notice and respond to disruptions in order. The urge to solve, Kwong claims, unites us all.
In fact, Kwong believes that the human brain is so ready to solve illusions and puzzles that it’s ready to decode secret messages and data—just like in the video above.
According to Time Magazine, most humans will sit down to Sunday breakfast with their copy of the paper or their favourite puzzle book because of a desire to find and continue patterns. Not only are humans driven to find and continue patterns, but according to Daniel Bor, a research fellow at the University of Sussex in England, humans are driven to create and find new, innovative solutions and optimizations for both our lives and the world around us.
Puzzles in the workplace can be a great team building activity, especially if your office is feeling particularly tense or stressed. Perhaps you’re working on a big project with co-workers and there’s very little time to relax or have fun in the office. Creating activities like puzzles and games can really help co-workers come together. If you’ve just hired on a couple of new people, puzzles and games can also be a great way to introduce them to the rest of your group.
For example, try a game like Bonding Belt.
Best done with six or more people, have your employees attempt to reach Point B from Point A while stuck together—perhaps holding a box or a piece of paper—as quickly as they can. Not only does this get your team talking and problem solving, but the game is short enough that it can be done before staff or team meetings.
For new team members, try the Circle of Questions.
This game works best with as few as 10 people, and can last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Split your workers into two equal teams, and have one create a circle facing outwards. Then, have the other team create a circle in which they face the other team. The person on the outter circle will ask a question—open ended questions make for interesting play—and the person on the inner circle has 30 seconds to answer. After 30 seconds, the same question will be asked by the person on the inside of the circle.
After both people have asked the question, the inner circle will move clockwise one person, and the outter circle will move counter clockwise to find new partners. This is a great way to get employees to open up to one another and to introduce new teammates.