The Marshmallow Challenge is a remarkably fun and instructive design exercise that encourages teams to experience simple but profound lessons in collaboration, innovation and creativity.

 

The Marshmallow Challenge

I work as a Fellow at Autodesk, the world’s leader in 2D and 3D technology serving the Design, Engineering and Entertainment industries. I’m passionate about fostering design thinking, visual collaboration and team creativity.


I believe the marshmallow challenge is among the fastest and most powerful technique for improving a team’s capacity to generate fresh ideas, build rapport and incorporate prototyping - all of which lie at the heart of effective innovation.


For more information about my books, talks, visualizations and tools to foster innovation and team clarity, please visit TomWujec.com

Tom Wujec

If you need to kickstart a meeting, get a team into a creative frame of mind, or simply want to encourage your organization to think about what it takes to dramatically increase innovation, invest 45 minutes to run a marshmallow challenge.

The task is simple: in eighteen minutes, teams 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.

Surprising lessons emerge when you compare teams’ performance. Who tends to do the worst? Why? Who tends to do the best? Why? What improves performance? What kills it?