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Protocol Toolkit Item: 9h


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This protocol demonstrates each participant’s unique and vital contribution to the success of the group, initiative, or project.


  • Puzzle pieces (see resources for options)
  • Tape to hang pieces on a wall (magnetic tape can be used to display on any magnetic surface)


30-40 Minutes


The facilitator(s) should prepare one blank puzzle piece for each participant. The puzzle pieces should be part of the same puzzle and fit together to create one complete puzzle. Markers, colored pencils, or dry-erase pens should be available so participants can write on their puzzle pieces.    Using tape, the puzzle can be built by sticking the pieces to the wall. Magnet tape can be used to place the pieces on a whiteboard or magnetic surface. An alternate can be for participants to build the puzzle on a large table. All participants should be able to see the completed puzzle.


Step 1:

Introduce Protocol (2 min) Share the following information with participants:
  • All participants bring leadership and are an essential piece of the work the group is hoping to accomplish.
  • Each participant will be given a blank puzzle piece on which they will write their name and a response to a prompt.
  • Each participant will then contribute their piece to the building of the puzzle quilt. The final product is a puzzle because each piece will fit together to make one image. And like a quilt, the final image will be a beautiful combination of unique pieces.

Step 2:

Individual Puzzle Piece Preparation (5 min)
  • Facilitator(s) distribute puzzle pieces and markers.
  • The prompt is displayed on a presentation slide.
  • Ask participants to think about the prompt and write their first name and a brief response to it (a couple of words that capture their thoughts) on the puzzle piece.
  • Display the following prompt:
    • In one or two words, what contributions do you bring to the work we do together in the group, initiative, or project?
  Note: Other prompts can be used as applicable to the group. One alternate prompt might be, “In one or two words, what keeps you connected to the work and collaboration in our group?”
  • If time is available, participants can take a few minutes to decorate their puzzle pieces after writing their names and responses.

Step 3:

Building the Puzzle (15-20 min)
  • Ask participants to line up at the front of the room with their puzzle pieces once they have written their reflection responses.
  • Inform participants that they will come up to the wall or board one at a time to position their puzzle piece on the puzzle quilt and share their responses with the whole group.
  • Begin with the first person in the line. Participants may need to speak with a microphone if the group is large.
  • Thank each participant for sharing and ask them to step back now and look at the completed puzzle quilt.

Step 4:

Protocol Reflection  (5 min)
  • When the puzzle is finished, let participants know that each piece of the puzzle quilt comes together and demonstrates our shared leadership and purpose. Every piece matters in creating the complete product.
  • Remind participants that this activity also shows how we all bring unique contributions to this work and that those diverse contributions add to the overall collaborative effort and success of our group, initiative, or project. 

Resources & Further Reading

Puzzle pieces can be made by printing them on paper or cardstock, or blank puzzle pieces can be purchased already cut and ready to be used. It is best to use puzzle pieces that fit together easily and are large enough for participants to write on. All participants will need a puzzle piece. Some options are below: Large paper puzzle pieces Small wooden puzzle pieces Write on/Wipe off puzzle pieces Magnet Tape Printable Puzzle Piece Image (resize as needed):   

Examples of Use

  • This protocol can be used for Conocimiento or an Ultima Palabra or as a stand-alone protocol during a meeting, session, or workshop.
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