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Challenging Assumptions

100% of 100

Learning Focus

  • Change Management
  • Decision Making
  • Icebreaker
  • Innovation
  • Problem Solving
  • Resilience

Group Size

4 - 16
2 - 16


10-20 Minutes
More information
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This deceptively simple (yet award winning) puzzle challenges assumptions that people routinely make to improve creative thinking skills, problem solving & innovation skills. It raises the awareness about the benefits and limitations of using previous experience when trying to solve new problems.
Challenging Assumptions examines and challenges thinking patterns of individuals and groups, uncovering assumptions that drive behaviour, and delivers memorable learning for any level of participant. It is often used as a relevant ice-breaker or a challenging ‘warm-up’ activity for a problem solving or planning team, in advance of tackling ‘real-life’ problems.
This is one of the most popular learning activities developed within RSVP Design and was awarded 'Best Use of Surprise & Delight in Gamification' and 'Overall Outstanding Usage of Gamification for Learning' at the 2022 Camp Gamicon Throwdown Awards in 2022.
There are four puzzles provided per set to allow a group of up to 16 to work together in four sub-groups.

Click the Webinar Video link below to view a Webinar recording on using activities like Challenging Assumptions within Innovation and Creativity learning programmes.


Individuals will explore the nature of assumptions and their limiting effect through working on this practical ‘puzzle’. It explores in particular how individuals can follow assumptions unconsciously and how sometimes it is important to challenge whether deeply held assumptions are restricting creative and innovative thinking. It can be used to ask individuals to explore strategies for challenging their own thinking processes, and also to consider sensitive and positive ways of doing this in group situations.  It will also explore an individual's personal capacity for resilience when faced with a challenging learning situation - how will they react when faced with this difficult problem?

  • Developing creative and critical thinking skills

  • Creative problem solving skills

  • Innovation skills

  • Exploring the nature of assumptions and their potential to limit and restrict creative and innovative thinking

  • Explores how individuals follow assumptions unconsciously 

  • Understanding that sometimes it is important to challenge and change deeply held assumptions

  • Exploring strategies for challenging individual thinking processes

  • Consider sensitive and positive ways of challenging assumptions in group settings

  • Building resilience

Like most good designs, Challenging Assumptions simplicity is its virtue – small groups of learners (3 to 6 people per puzzle is ideal, or even one individual) have to connect pieces of a puzzle together. Each puzzle piece is painted with a solid colour and unfinished on the reverse side. 

Challenging Assumptions won two awards at the 2022 Camp Gamicon Throwdown for 'Best Use of Surprise & Delight in Gamification' and Overall Outstanding Usage of Gamification for Learning'. See https://gamicon.us/throwdown.

This simple activity lasts between 10 and 20 minutes and is an ideal way of raising the awareness of a group of learners about the preconceptions and assumptions we bring into new situations. This is very valuable in developing problem-solving or innovative & creative thinking processes as it highlights how we can limit our thinking and reject new possibilities if they do not fit with our existing patterns.

Learners, who are aware that it is being used on programmes with an element of creative thinking or innovation, often say things such as:
“I’m going into this with a really open mind” or
“I’m not going to make any assumptions about this”
However, these words are often uttered as they are making those very assumptions! As they realise this, the response is often laughter, surprise and a genuine recognition of the strength of some of our personal mental models and the difficulty in challenging assumptions and typical behaviours.

Challenging Assumptions is a small group activity that explores some of the creative thinking skills that enable us to break old patterns and establish new ones and is an interesting and engaging way of helping people to distinguish the difference between useful assumptions and those that limit potential.

It is also an excellent introduction to training in innovation, creative problem-solving and creative thinking skills and a challenging ‘warm-up’ or icebreaker activity for a problem solving or planning team in advance of tackling ‘real-life’ problems and solutions.

Challenging Assumptions is commonly used globally in many Business Schools including CCL, IMD, Insead, Thunderbird & Ashridge, and Executive Development programmes in organisations such as Sony Music, PWC & World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Challenging Assumptions is also part of our Education Sector Package for those wishing to build learning & employability skills with students or young people.

Activity Contents:

  • Facilitator manual with full activity instructions and review suggestions 

  • 4x puzzles per pack 

Package Weight: 0.8kg

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We provide a 12 month unconditional guarantee. If you have any problems with our materials, we will replace any defective parts, or you can return the product for a refund.

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