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  • Writer's picturekaren paterson

Introducing the 'Pig of a Problem' workshop

A game-changing approach to creative problem-solving

In a landscape where businesses continuously face complex challenges, adopting innovative problem-solving methods is crucial. One such method that has gained attention for its effectiveness and creativity is the 'Pig of a Problem' workshop. This method uses a playful metaphor and a structured game board to guide teams through a series of thoughtful questions, helping them reframe and solve persistent problems in new ways.


The aim of the 'Pig of a Problem' metaphor

The 'Pig of a Problem' metaphor is designed to disarm participants, reducing the intimidation often associated with tackling significant issues. By envisioning the problem as a stubborn pig stuck in the mud, the workshop encourages a lighter, more creative atmosphere that fosters open-mindedness and innovative thinking.


The game board: navigating through challenges

The workshop makes use of a physical 'game board' to lead participants through the problem-solving process. This board is segmented into various stages, each representing a step in the journey to unravel the problem and devise effective solutions:

  1. Identifying what's been tried: the first stage involves mapping out all previous attempts to solve the problem. This helps participants understand past strategies and why they may not have succeeded, setting the stage for fresh ideas

  2. Understanding the sticking points: the next step focuses on identifying factors that keep the problem in place. Understanding these roadblocks is crucial for developing strategies to overcome them

  3. exploring exceptions: participants then discuss instances where the problem does not occur, seeking patterns or conditions that might explain these anomalies. This stage is often revelatory, providing clues towards potential solutions

  4. visualising the ideal future: finally, the game board leads participants to articulate a clear vision of the desired state where the problem is resolved. This not only inspires but also aligns the team on a shared goal.


Structured inquiry: the power of thoughtful questions

Central to the workshop's success is its use of targeted, thoughtful questions designed to challenge assumptions and uncover new insights. These questions encourage participants to think differently about the problem and engage deeply with the process. For instance, questions might probe what changes when the problem is absent, or what could be learned from past failures.

Application and benefits

The "Pig of a Problem" workshop is versatile, applicable to a wide range of industries and issues, from operational roadblocks to strategic planning. The benefits of this method are manifold:

  • enhanced creativity: by gamifying the problem-solving process, the workshop breaks down psychological barriers to creativity, allowing novel ideas to surface

  • cohesive teamwork: this method fosters a collaborative environment where every team member is engaged in the problem-solving process, enhancing team cohesion and collective commitment to the solutions

  • strategic insight: participants gain deeper insights into the problem's nature and the factors contributing to it, leading to more strategic and sustainable solutions.



The "Pig of a Problem" workshop represents a significant shift in how businesses can approach problem-solving. Through its engaging metaphor, structured game board, and the strategic use of probing questions, this method not only makes tackling complex issues less daunting but also more effective. By reframing challenges and encouraging a holistic view, organisations can unlock innovative solutions that were previously overlooked, paving the way for success in an ever-changing business environment.

How can you use this workshop approach to overcome your sticky problems?



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