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“Marshmallow”-ing to the Top

the marshmallow challenge instructions

Introduction

The Marshmallow Challenge was made famous by Tom Wujec in 2015. In a TED Talk he explained how this challenge can stimulate creative and innovative thought within teams.

Since its release, many teams have completed this exercise, and the results have been astounding.

In his talk, Tom Wujec explains which teams perform well, and which do not. Interestingly, recent graduates of business school perform the worst. The reason? Lying, cheating and being easily distracted.

On the other extreme, the teams performing the best in the Marshmallow Challenge, are recent graduates of kindergarten. Their reason? No-one is jockeying for power, and constant prototyping is their key to success…

Lessons learnt from the challenge

These results point to a few lessons that teams can learn from. So, these lessons aren’t exclusively meant for those involved in design and innovation. Rather, all teams that manage projects involving assumptions and good communication.

1. Prototyping & Iterating – the best way to find a new solution, is to constantly keep the end in mind (the marshmallow on top). But also, realise that there is no one single best strategy to solve a problem. Therefore, using constant iteration and improvement will ensure the most efficient use of your team’s time. And, as a bonus, they will come to a resolution that you know will work.

2. Communication & Collaboration – it’s important to make use of the skills that are available within your team. Having someone to facilitate communication between different people can make all the difference to your success! They allow the contribution of ideas by all the individuals on the team. So, understanding and managing the process throughout is critical in determining team success.

3. Be aware of hidden assumptions – being ignorant of underlying or differing assumptions within a team, can be the driving force behind its success or failure. Uncovering and understanding the assumptions of each project, as well as the biases of each team participant will build mutual respect. This will allow teams to leverage off of the different perspectives to create a new reality for the whole team.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you would like to try this simple, fun and eye-opening Marshmallow challenge with your team, visit Tom Wujec’s website here for instructions. Or, alternatively contact UPvisor to facilitate a fantastically fun teambuilding event for you!

Wishing you many happy hours as your team “Marshmallows” to the top!

Mike Barron's impressive Marshmallow Tower
Mike Barron’s impressive Marshmallow Tower