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  • Christina Rüter

Team - & Creative - Building

How the Marshmallow Challenge works and inspires




What does the Marshmallow Challenge actually do?


A team-building game that promotes group dynamics, creativity and problem solving.


Last week at the Rügenwalder Mühle Carl Müller GmbH & Co. KG Inspiration Day there was a session with all external guests, who were divided into 3 teams with the following briefing:


👐 Materials: each team receives 20 spaghetti, 1 metre of tape, 1 metre of string and 1 marshmallow.


☝ Task: The teams have 18 minutes to build the highest possible freestanding structure that supports the marshmallow at the top.


👉 Goal: The marshmallow must be placed on top of the structure and it must stand on its own at the end of the time.


So the problem is clear, the time pressure is working and all 3 teams can watch each other the whole time. They are still laughing...then pondering, trying, sticking, skewering, trying things out.


My team with Kim Karina Haußer and Dr Stephan Langer is relaxed and cheerful. We choose the tipi tent route to achieve stability.


👉 The teepee strategy also works, but it's not high enough. We are the time winner, but don't discard the plan as the clock is ticking and end up in second place.


By the way, kindergarten children do this much better.


👉 Research shows that children finish best in the challenge. Why is that? Because they experiment quickly and adapt to the results without spending too much time planning. They are less prone to sticking to the plan and open to iteration.


(ok, got it... ‘don't grow up, it's a trap’)


👉 Engineers and architects are also successful: their technical understanding and practical experience in dealing with structures helps them to create stable constructions.


(but we are not!)


👉 Artists and designers are also successful because they think creatively and find innovative solutions that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing.


(well, our tipi looked pretty!)


👉 Business people and managers often do less well: they tend to plan too long and don't have enough time for the practical construction and iteration of the structure.


(hmmmm.... we didn't plan too long, but iteration was missing)


👉 Graduates and students are usually not good at it either, because they tend to focus on planning and theory, which often leads to a lack of time for actual construction.


(we're in the clear!)


An exciting experiment: Many thanks to Steffen Zeller and Patrick Buehr, who moderated and the other marshmallow structure builders, Carmen Schenkel, Frank Ebrecht, Steffen Schwab, Jochen Matzer, Alexandra von Cukrowicz, Jens Krueger.


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LinkedIn Post: 01.04.2024 by Christina Rüter



















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