A warm-up game that test self-organisation and helps to get people thinking about a particular topic

This is a warm-up activity designed to help demonstrate the challenge of managing dependencies, whilst allowing team members to meet each other. It’s also a test of self-organisation so be prepared for a little bit of chaos….

When to use: To get people talking to each other who haven’t met before. To start the conversation about a topic. To get people out of their seats and moving.

Time needed: ~30mins

Space: Enough floor space for people to move around comfortably

Materials : Post-it notes

Players: 9+

Outcomes: Sense of achievement, perspectives from each person, each person speaks, understanding of personal objectives, initial thinking on topic.


1Create a grid of square post-its using the same number of post-its as there are people attending. In my case, I was expecting about 16 people but no more. I created a 4 x 4 grid. 
* you can adjust the numbers by adding or removing post-its.

2. Add a border around the “jigsaw” this will give the participants a clue if they are an “edge” or “Corner” piece.

3. Use a sharpie to write matching letters on the edges where 2 post-its meet. Try and randomise the letters so you dont have A, B, C all on the same post-it. You can use numbers and symbols if you run out of alphabet!

OPTIONAL: I chose to “encode” a secret message on the puzzle “PACE OF VALUE DELIVERY” in this case. You could add this as an additional task for the group; to decipher the hidden message.

4. Create an A-Z of corresponding questions. I like to have the question match the letter. For example, for letter V — I used the question: Is *VELOCITY* a good measure of pace? Here is the list of questions i used for this session https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Wllsiha0udtsJai0fYDmRVBI-tK52IfjJSSRnNAFQbc/edit?usp=sharing

5. Put each of these questions up on a wall in order of A-Z. Cover each question with a post-it and draw the corresponding letter on that post-it.

Running the session:

Once you know the actual numbers of participants, you may need to adjust the grid. In my case, there were 14, so I had to remove 2 post-its. I took out the bottom right corner and the piece above it. I crossed out the corresponding letters on adjoining post-its to show that there is not a connection needed. “

Hand out the pieces as randomly as you can.

Give clear instructions on how to play the game. I said something like this:

The value we need to create as a group is only delivered when the jigsaw is complete. In order to complete the jigsaw, you need to resolve any dependencies.

Find people with corresponding letters to you, they hold an adjoining piece of the jigsaw.

Once you find someone with a matching letter you need to get your dependency question and answer it together. So if you both have the letter B, you need to retrieve the B question from the A-Z board and then answer it.

You need to repeat this until you have connected each of your letters. If you have 4 letters on your post-its, you should have 4 conversations with 4 people. You have 15 mins to complete the task…

Allow for any questions and then start timing. Observe the group and help and support where needed. You may need to provide some hints and time prompts to encourage the team to solve the problem within the time.

When the group have all arranged themselves and resolved the puzzle, encourage them to celebrate their achievement before moving to the next stage where they replay their questions and answers back to the whole group.

Starting at letter A — ask that one of the pair present the following back:

  • Introduce themselves
  • Explain what they’re hoping to get from the day
  • Play back how they answered their dependency question.

Continue with this until you have played all of the letters and everyone has had a chance to speak.

Optional – Ask the group: What could you have done differently so that you solved the dependencies and delivered value quicker?


What did I learn from running this?

  • It took longer than I anticipated.
  • Some letters are ambiguous; for example I and H look very similar and caused confusion. Next time I will add an underscore
  • The Secret message didnt work too well. Maybe it was the red pen on the post-its, maybe it was that I forgot to tell the group that it was there…


  • Prepare a grid of post-its. 3×3, 4×4, 5×5
  • Use letters to link the edges of each post-it
  • Create a deck of corresponding questions and stick them on a wall that is easily accessible. Cover each question with a post-it and the corresponding letter
  • Cross out any dependency letters that are not being used if you have fewer people than post-its.
  • Distribute the post-its to the participants randomly
  • Give clear instructions to the group.
  • Have fun!

Please let me know if you give this a go, and if you find any useful adjustments.

2 thoughts on “Dependency jigsaw game”

  1. This is fantastic, thank you. The game mechanics are brilliant and can be applied to a number of concepts.

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