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Team Building with the Marshmallow Challenge: It´s all about Creativity, Innovation & Collaboration

What do a handful of uncooked spaghettis, a meter of tape, a meter of string and one marshmallow have to do with the skills executives need to shape the future and strengthen their corporate success? Whether you´ve heard of it, taken part in it, run it or have no idea what I am referring to, it is a challenge definitely worth taking on!

The Marshmallow Challenge was invented by Peter Skillman of Palm Inc. and popularized by Tom Wujec of Autodesk just a couple of years ago. Globally experimented, it has been tested from kindergarteners to graduate students, all the way to some of today´s most successful executives and leaders. We have organised several of these Challenges with clients in Spain and the results are consistently insightful.

So what does it consist of exactly, and what is its purpose? First, you should know that this noteworthy challenge is both a fun and instructive team exercise, which objective is to demonstrate the importance of creativity, innovation and collaboration between team members in the workplace.

The challenge is actually very simple to organize and easily put together. Start by handing out to each team the different components of the challenge. Then, deliver clear instructions so that everyone understands them, and emphasize the purpose of the challenge. Thus, explain that the goal is to build the tallest free-standing structure -and for the smarty-pants, specify that the latter can´t be suspended from a higher structure such as a chair. As for the rules, there are only a handful of them:

The entire marshmallow must be placed on top of the structure; and in case you were wondering, it is forbidden to eat part of it! Similarly, cutting it into different pieces would lead to the disqualification of the whole team.Team members can use as much (or as little) of the kit they received. Ergo, some teams may only use pieces of strings, while other may stick to tape. Breaking up spaghettis or cutting bits of tape is accepted.Last but not least, even though taking on the challenge is quite entertaining, it can´t go on forever. Display a stop watch on an overhead projector for everyone to see because the challenge only lasts 18 minutes. At the end of the allocated time, teams are not allowed to hold their structure; indeed, those supporting or touching it will be disqualified.

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