If the word Marshmallow Challenge doesn't ring a bell, don't worry, here we'll explain it to you. What at first may seem like child's play becomes a powerful tool for measuring the performance of a team within a professional environment.
This challenge has been fashionable for a few years now and as a curious fact, you will like to know that children just out of kindergarten have a higher success rate in their resolution than recent graduates in business administration and management. The reason?, Here we will tell you.
But what is this challenge?
Let's get on the record first. The Marshmallow Challenge was devised by Tom Wucej, a Canadian technology pioneer, writer and university professor who has spent the last 10 years making speeches, presentations and workshops to asses companies in the field of innovation, creativity and disruptive technologies applied to business.
The challenge that Wucej designed is apparently simple. A team of 4 people have 18 minutes to build the tallest tower topped by a marshmallow (marshmallow , hence its name). They have 20 spaghetti, one meter of adhesive tape, one meter of rope and the marshmallow in question. The only rule is that the marshmallow has to crown the structure, and from there, anything goes, including observing and copying the work of other teams.
From now on, every type of strategy is valid: application of knowledge of structures, planning, role designation, trial and error... This challenge aims to uncover the collaborative skills of a group and measure its success within a working environment with limited resources and time. It is a dynamic Team Building to promote both creativity and collaborative work
Wucej, analyzed the results obtained after performing hundreds of challenges with very different profiles the findings were quite striking. As a general rule, elementary school children and newcomers in kindergarten built taller towers than CEOs , big business lawyers, and even business students.
In Altia we have seen in situ the results of the Marshmallow Challenge. Recently our colleague Alejandro Tuñas, has taught a course on project management for company employees and implemented this curious challenge to demonstrate the best ways of working within a group.
Participants were able to see that the challenge presented to them was more complex than seemed at first. The structures of spaghetti could not stand the weight of the marshmallow and broke . And when getting some stability, the height of the structure was not sufficiently satisfactory.
According to Alejandro Tuñas, on many occasions, to solve a problem, we look for complex solutions. Great professionals try to make schematics and planning based on assumptions and theories when it's easier than all that. Sometimes you have to play it simple and think like a child because they do not waste time searching theories, leaving them time to further testing without having to risk their placement marshmallow at the end . Logical thinking goes through the first step of placing the Marshmallow first and then keep trying to get the highest possible stable structure, without being afraid to make mistakes along the way.
The collaborative part is also fundamental. Many of the CEOs and future entrepreneurs are prepared to lead , and often want to show this quality in an authoritarian manner instead of delegating. Children take it as a game in which they collaborate equally, have fun and share their ingenuity to solve a problem.
All this makes Marshmallow Challenge an extremely useful tool to measure how a group is understood within a company and, above all, to learn to collaborate as a team, giving priority to collective success over individual.
And you? would you like to try the Marshmallow Challenge?