How Problem Solving In A Workplace Is Like Completing A Jigsaw Puzzle  The Missing Piece Puzzle Company

How Problem Solving In A Workplace Is Like Completing A Jigsaw Puzzle

As a small business owner and master in the field of jigsaw puzzles, I've found that problem-solving is like completing a jigsaw puzzle.  There are several steps to go through in order to complete a puzzle efficiently and effectively.

How To Choose The Best Puzzle

The excitement of starting a jigsaw puzzle begins the minute that I select a puzzle to work on.  Choosing the right puzzle is my first step in the problem-solving equation and can set the tone for my puzzling experience.  Some questions that I ask myself are:


  1. Am I looking at doing a long-term puzzle with many complicated pieces or is a short-term puzzle better?
  2. Will this puzzle fit into the landscape of where I plan to assemble?
  3. Will this puzzle provide a positive and pleasant experience, or will it be a source of frustration and need constant attention?

Having a good plan on what to purchase surely sets the tone for a positive and pleasant puzzle experience.

 Piece Count Selection Process

Selecting the piece count is usually the tricky part in selecting my jigsaw puzzle.  A few questions that I have to consider are:

  1. Do I have enough room for the puzzle in the area that I want to use to assemble?
  2. What is the finished size of the puzzle and how much space will I need for the loose pieces while assembling?
  3. Is the area for the puzzle in a high-traffic area?
  4. Do I have a timeline that I want to work on to complete the puzzle? 
  5. Do I need large pieces or small pieces in the puzzle?  

Valuable Lessons Learned From Jigsaw Puzzles

Throughout the countless puzzles that I have assembled, I've learned some valuable lessons about life, work, and myself.  I've noticed the many similarities of puzzling fun and can compare them to solving problems in the workplace.

First, Turn Over All Of The Pieces

Anytime I open a new puzzle I instinctively start turning all of the pieces of the puzzle so that the image on the puzzle is facing up.  This is a natural action that I perform and one that starts my puzzle process.  I find that it is very important to see the entirety of the problem to gain insight into trying to solve the problem.  I want to get an overview and look at the systems, personalities of teammates, and try to assess if the objectives are aligned with the problem. 

Construct The Frame

I assemble the edge pieces of the puzzle before any other pieces.  As in a workplace environment, constructing the framework is key to solving a problem.  Seeing the frame of the puzzle will define your project and opens you to more than one interpretation of the problem.

Look At The Cover On The Box  

Assembling the photo on the box is the goal of the puzzle and keeping the cover on the box visible helps to achieve the goal.  Having a clear goal/objective focuses me to achieve the desired output.

Develop a strategy 

I try to break puzzles up into manageable pieces. I develop a strategy at the onset and tackle one section at a time. I decided, for example, I was going to complete the Lite-Brite section of the puzzle before moving on to the Monopoly section. Developing a strategy and breaking a challenge into bite-sized pieces helps you avoid getting overwhelmed. Strategic thinking is a critical leadership skill. 

If It Doesn't Fit, Don't Force It

Jigsaw puzzles teach us that forcing what doesn't belong is counterproductive.  When you find a piece that doesn't fit it's a great suggestion to try a different strategy.  While some people may look like they fit perfectly into a space of the puzzle, they may not be the perfect fit where you are trying to force them into the puzzle.  It doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't a key component, but reassessing their place in the puzzle might be warranted.  If it isn't working, move on.

Celebrate The Wins

I find that when sitting down to assemble a puzzle that it's the small wins, like assembling the blue sky part of a puzzle, that help reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed.  Knowing when it's time to walk away for a break, savoring small victories and being productive will help in the problem-solving process.  

Everyday challenges can be a bit overwhelming but having a process in place to help assemble the puzzle makes any challenge a bit easier to face.  Being able to problem-solve is a life skill that will keep the workplace flowing effortlessly.  

Gather your puzzle and get started.  It's well worth the effort.