Missing Pieces

It was vacation time. So, there was a large jigsaw puzzle on the table. One of those by Jan van Haasteren. Fun for the kids and – I admit – also for us. What initially seems like an impossible task becomes progressively easier. Logical, because all the puzzle pieces together form the complete picture. And the more puzzle pieces you’ve placed, the clearer that picture becomes. And if you use the lid with the example image? It helps you immensely. What if you approached projects in the same way?

Let’s start with that complete picture. The dot on the horizon. Your goal. Visualize it for a moment. This makes the information more concrete. You, yourself, and especially others can more quickly see the bigger picture. By the way, visualization is much more than just drawing; it’s about imagining things. Can’t draw very well? Well, that’s perfectly fine. 😉

Now, the pieces. Compare those to the various components in your project. Everything has its own place, and tasks complement each other to ultimately create that complete image. The biggest frustration? It’s always the missing pieces. What do you do when a piece is missing or placed in the wrong spot? A piece that causes confusion and hampers progress? Do you take action or wait? And what does that do to the team?


“The biggest frustration? It’s always the missing pieces.”


With the jigsaw puzzle, you move the piece to the correct spot, right? No matter who initially placed the piece wrong. After all, you’re all working toward the same goal: completing the puzzle. And then you get that blissful feeling when the piece fits! Do you know that feeling? All thanks to your brain releasing dopamine, making you want ‘more’! How logical does it sound to apply this in your team too? Especially considering that dopamine also leads to increased concentration, optimism, and trust.

However, I often see that proactive approach to finding and placing the right puzzle pieces in the right spots happens less frequently than not in projects. The result? You don’t make progress. The solution? Spend more time puzzling together. And ask each other questions like: ‘What’s the complete picture we want to create?’, ‘Which puzzle pieces do I have?’, ‘Which ones do you have?’, ‘What can we expect from each other?’, ‘How do we fit it all together?’. Need to borrow a Jan van Haasteren puzzle or are you stuck with the puzzle in your team? Email me! 🧩




If you’d like to read more about missing pieces in relation to not knowing and having trust in a team, I’d like to point you to this longread: Stop tolerating “I did not know that” right now!