In celebration of Fun at Work Day, Tata & Howard employees took a break from lunch and competed in The Marshmallow Challenge!
Made popular by TED Talks’ Tom Wujec, The Marshmallow Challenge is simple – teams compete to build the tallest freestanding structure in 18 minutes using only 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of tape, a yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to sit on top of the freestanding structure.
Did we mention the challenge is simple? Well…interestingly the challenge is not as simple as it seems – the marshmallow is pretty heavy! In addition, time ticks away very quickly!
While we were having some ‘Fun at Work’, The Marshmallow Challenge was also a terrific team building exercise and we did learn some valuable lessons.
Key lessons we learned from this challenge:
- Teamwork is key. Every team member needed to contribute. Working well together was especially effective and efficient.
Testing: Working out theories and testing materials early in the challenge helped formulate the overall design. However, taking too long in the planning impacted the construction time.
- Time Management. As we learned from the testing phase, time management turned out to be an equally important lesson. Teams needed to plan and manage enough time to build the structure.
- Innovation: Creativity and originality was really the fun part of this challenge. All teams approached this challenge differently and every structure was unique.
Here’s a blow-by-blow account of the competing teams:
At our Marlborough office five teams competed:
Table 1 – Mike, Molly and Maya spent a good part of the time planning and testing. They also exercised good time management and built a very stable structure reaching 15 ½”.
Table 2 – Using all their materials, Katie, Jenna and Meghan built the tallest structure at 16 1/2”. Although not the prettiest to look at, it was very stable and even with vigorous table shaking the tower stood tall! Winning Team!!
Table 3 – Brian, Maria, and Derek had the sad misfortune of their structure collapsing shamelessly into a ½” pile of broken spaghetti!
Table 4 – Although, James, Mary and Karen’s structure measured 10 1/2” after partially collapsing, they finished with time to spare and managed to have some materials left over!
Table 5 – Adam, Matt and Jim ambitiously engineered a very tall structure, but it sadly collapsed under its own weight. Still, there were some measurable structural components and came in at 8” high.
At our Waterbury, CT office, two teams competed:
The Seniors (Sal, Bill, Dave and Nan) had an early lead and constructed a fairly stable structure of modest height with about 5 minutes left. However, their table was jarred, and the structure ended up toppling. They could not re-assemble before time ran out.
The Young professionals (Chelsea, Ryan, Kevin, Will, Natalia) used the early stages to plan the construction and had some good ideas, however, they were a little too ambitious with the final marshmallow top and their structure also collapsed. In fact, it never really stood at all. And, the final height of their marshmallow was below the table surface!
In less than an hour, the Marshmallow Challenge is a fun way to foster innovation and teamwork. If you’re interested, the challenge rules can be seen here [Marshmallow Challenge Instructions]. Hope you find time to have fun at work too!