innovation | July 23, 2012

Tom Wujec's "Marshmallow Challenge" Innovation Workshop

Tom Wujec is one of the world's leading innovation and visualization speakers, offering interactive innovation workshops to help companies streamline the way they do business and foster innovation. One of his most unorthodox, yet equally effective, workshops is the "Marshmallow Challenge"—a simple team exercise in amateur architecture that ends up teaching us the true value of teamwork. experiment sounds simple enough: teams try to build the tallest freestanding structure they can out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string and a marshmallow. What makes it difficult, though, is the need for teams to organize, prototype and finally build the structure in the short time frame. The results are astounding—children tend to outperform MBA students, due to their ability to redesign on the fly rather than plan a rigid structure and execute, even if the structure is doomed for failure.

The "Marshmallow Challenge" is a unique and fun way to teach audiences about teamwork firsthand. By comparing the different structures that each group produces, Wujec illustrates the impact of teamwork, visual planning, and organization. What approaches have worked in the past? What are the pitfalls that have plagued unsuccessful attempts? And, how can we apply this to modern business? Most importantly, however, audiences leave with a refreshing new take on the meaning of teamwork, as this recent client testimonial shows:

Many people made a point of telling me how terrific you are and that they are planning on using the challenge or the approach your described or both with their staffs.  Since we are beginning our new fiscal year, the timing is perfect for people to rethink the approach to the challenges of their business.