I’m a big fan of the internationally-recognised Marshmallow Challenge team building activity and regularly use it in my training sessions. I think it’s a great tool for ‘breaking the ice’, exploring team dynamics, and emphasising the value of ‘out of the square’ design thinking and iterative development.
What is the Marshmallow Challenge? In eighteen minutes, teams of four must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.
Most recently, I ran the Marshmallow Challenge with a group of librarians from South Australia’s public library network. The six teams produced some fantastic structures, although there were some hairy moments, as the photo below shows!
After conducting the activity, it’s a great idea to show the Marshmallow Challenge TED video by Tom Wujec. The video reveals some great insights – perhaps the most surprising is the fact that graduates of business school are the worst marshmallow engineers, whilst kindergarten students are among the best! Also interesting is the fact that groups of CEOs don’t do as well as groups with both CEOs and their PAs in them.
The Marshmallow Challenge is a great team activity. It only takes an hour and it delivers some great lessons!