The Power of Play (Part Three): How to Improve Creativity & Problem Solving

Group of teenagers huddled together on a blue tarp.

Most people know the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The proverb is designed to teach us the need for fun. Without it, one runs the risk of becoming boring – stagnant. This is just as true in the workplace as it is in our daily lives.

Making Fun an Important Aspect of Business Culture

“Play has been found to speed up learning, enhance productivity and increase job satisfaction,” says Lynn Barnett, a professor of recreation, sports and tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Fun can also improve creativity and problem solving. It’s what we like to call the Power of Play.

Fun Improves Personal Creativity

“Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that, though seemingly unproductive, play time is one of the most effective ways to inspire creativity,” writes Vanessa Van Edwards, Inc. “It’s about enjoyment but it often leads to the generation of productive ideas because it allows the brain to think about tasks in unstructured ways and make connections that it typically wouldn’t while in pursuit of a specific goal.”

Basically, all work and no play makes your brain pretty dull as well. Play helps open your mind to new and exciting ideas, while allowing your creativity to flow. The end result is a more dynamic, and ultimately more valuable, employee.

“Success at work doesn’t depend on the amount of time you work; it depends upon the quality of your work,” write Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Jennifer Shubin, Help Guide. “And the quality of your work is highly dependent on your well-being.”

In layman’s terms, you are more creative and more productive when you’re having fun!

Fun Increases Problem Solving Skills

In a recent study conducted by PayScale, 60% of managers claim that new graduates do not have the critical thinking and problem solving skills necessary to adequately perform their duties.

“Problem solving skills do not necessarily develop naturally; they need to be explicitly taught in a way that can be transferred across multiple settings and contexts,” write Kate Mills and Helyn Kim, Brookings. And perhaps the best way to do this is through gamification – the process of transforming learning into a game.

“While play is crucial for a child’s development, it is also beneficial for people of all ages,” write Robinson et al. “You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.”

Team Building Uses the Power of Play to Improve Organizations

As Matt Baker, Chief Adventure Officer at Terrapin Adventures likes to say, “Fun is more memorable.” This is why we incorporate the power of play into our Custom Team Building Programs. A few of our favorite mind-expanding exercises include Reach Your Goals, All Aboard, and Magic Carpet. Each plays a unique and important role as we work to improve creativity and problem solving.

Reach Your Goals

In this exercise, team members must assist each other to reach their work or personal goals.  

Once a method has been used, it cannot be repeated.

All Aboard

In this exercise, team members are asked to think differently to solve a problem. Remember to listen closely as the key to solving this puzzle lies in the directions.

A group of 8 co-workers try to solve a team building puzzle.

Magic Carpet

In this exercise, participants must coordinate their efforts as their actions affect other participants. There is more than one method to get your team onto the proper side of the magic carpet, but there’s only one solution.

A group of teenagers try to stand together on a small carpet.

Schedule Your Corporate Team Building Experience

Terrapin Adventures, conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington DC, is able to create a customized program to help improve trust, communication, engagement, collaboration, and problem solving. We can accommodate up to 200 people in a comfortable indoor setting or we can come to you! Indoor or outdoor, on-site or off.

Schedule Your Custom Team Building Program!

After each exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind each activity and how they translate to the business world. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and ensures that the progress made during your team building outing lasts long after you leave us.

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at to learn more.


  1. “5 Activities That Will Boost Your Team’s Problem Solving Skills.” Crew,
  2. Edwards, Vanessa Van. “How to Boost Your Team’s Creativity, According to Science.”, Inc., 5 Apr. 2017,
  3. Mills, Kate, and Helyn Kim. Teaching Problem Solving: Let Students Get ‘Stuck’ and ‘Unstuck’. Brookings, 8 Feb. 2018,
  4. Strauss, Karsten. “These Are The Skills Bosses Say New College Grads Do Not Have.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 20 May 2016,
  5. “The Benefits of Play for Adults.”, 21 Mar. 2019,
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