The Marshmallow Tower Challenge is a simple team exercise that is enjoyable but also encourages people to work together to practice problem solving , design thinking, resilience and agility. It is simple to facilitate, with inexpensive simple materials.
Duration: 20+ minutes (total timing depends on debrief time) Note the original exercise allows 18 minutes, I have reduced this to 12 minutes.
Create subgroups of 4-6 people
This exercise is a great way to encourage team members to collaborate, problem solve and to model design thinking such as testing and iterating. This activity also encourages critical thinking by asking participates to synthesize what they learned quickly to create new designs. Must also demonstrate resilience in the face of challenges or frustrations.
Each group gets:
What have you learned? Why is testing so important?
What would you do differently if you had the chance to rebuild the tower?
Comments from Facilitator:
To be a successful designer you must be able to hear feedback, (in fact see it as a gift) and use the feedback to better your design, take risks, be creative, try new things and be experimental.
Many teams move too quickly from planning to final solution and not enough time experimenting. They don’t ask enough questions and push the boundaries. Did you find that you work this way, you risk your prototype failing too late to make needed changes
Credit: This material is adapted from Tom Wujec’s Marshmallow Challenge – See his TED Talk here.