Friday, December 5, 2008 by Dave Blum

As I’m fond of saying, “We live in a puzzle culture”.  Heck, hop on a plane sometime if you don’t believe me. You’re bound to see at least half a dozen people noodling away at a crossword puzzle or sudoku, with a kid or two in the back row working away diligently at a wordsearch.  There is just something about puzzles that reels you in — the promise, perhaps, of a fresh, untouched “board”… How will I do today?  Will the puzzle master beat me?  Will I defeat him?  Can I break my previous time record? Can I do it all in pen, with no errors or cross-outs?

My wife, Jen, and I always look forward to our Sunday crossword puzzle session (Merl Reagle in the San Francisco Chronicle is our favorite).  It’s one of our favorite, weekly “team building exercises” — a chance both to test our own abilities as well as to show our partner how smart and well-informed we are.  🙂  Not only do I tend to come away admiring the way Jen’s mind works (and my own brilliance in marrying her!), but I think we both enjoy the mutual satisfaction of accomplishing a project together.  A completed puzzle always earns us the ritual high five.

In an effort to share this wonderful feeling of teamwork and bonding on a larger scale, my company recently created the Dr. Clue Puzzling Networking Game.  You start the game with 1/4th of a clue/puzzle, which might be trivia, code, cipher, rebus, etc.  Your job is first to find the three other people with whom you can re-assemble the puzzle, and then to solve the puzzle together with your new quadrad, as a team.  The secret answer is always a pithy quote about teams and teamwork, which you write down on your personal score sheet.  Once finished with your first puzzle, you bid adieu to your “temporary team mates”, swap your puzzle piece with someone else in the room, and set out to find the three new people who can help you re-assemble this next puzzle.  By the end of the session, you should have solved as many as 10 stimulating puzzles, with the help of nearly 40 interesting people possessing a variety of skills and knowledge.

Dr. Clue offers a variety of team building activities, but the Puzzling Networking Game is one of my favorites.  Try it sometime, and give yourself a high five.