Once the timer goes off, tell everyone in the room to take a seat away from their structure so everyone can see what each team has done. Usually, about half the teams will have successfully built a free-standing construction.

  • Measure each structure: Ideally, from the shortest to the tallest, and call out the heights as you measure. You should have someone record each score for all teams to see.
  • Find the winner: Decide the winning team and ensure that they get treated to rousing applause and a prize (if plans were made for one).
  • Conclude with lessons and objectives of the Marshmallow Challenge: You can deliver a presentation if you had one prepared or just round things off with some vital observable lessons.
  • Kids excel at this challenge more than business students: On almost every form of innovation, children have always found a way to create taller and more intriguing structures.
  • Prototyping is crucial: Kids and kindergarten tend to outsmart business school students because they spend more time prototyping and playing. Kids will often start by sticking the marshmallows in the sticks and build up from there. Conversely, business school students spend most of the time coming up with a plan. Eventually, they realize that they don’t have enough time to finetune the design when the marshmallows go on top.
  • The Marshmallow challenge exposes the hidden assumptions of a project: The common thought at the beginning of the challenge is that marshmallows are light enough to be supported by spaghetti sticks. However, once you start building the structure, you notice that marshmallows aren’t as light as you initially thought. The marshmallow challenge highlights the need to be aware of the assumptions in our projects – the cost of the product, customer preferences, duration of the project – and test them out as soon and as frequently as possible. This is the mechanism that drives innovation.