Marshmallow Challenge

A team challenge for innovation and prototyping!

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A team challenge for innovation and prototyping!

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.

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.

This broadly circulated team building experience was recently popularized by Tom Wujec, who presented a TED Talk on the subject. The Marshmallow Challenge is to build the tallest possible free-standing structure, which will support one marshmallow on the top, using only 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape and one yard of string -- in exactly 18 minutes!

We've assembled all the parts into one convenient kit!

  • bag of marshmallows
  • box of spaghetti
  • roll of masking tape
  • roll of cotton twine
  • tape measure
  • 5 scissors
  • 5 paper lunch bags
  • Facilitation Notes for how to run the exercise
  • 1 see-through vinyl tote to carry it all!

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?

The marshmallow challenge is among the fastest and most powerful techniques 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.