Jun 25

Collaboration in action: the marshmallow challenge

The marshmallow challenge is one of the most famous exercises to experience and learn, what it takes to be collaborating effectively.

But actually it is much more: it is also the real life application of the Cynefin Framework (more information here). Building the marshmallow tower out of spaghetti’s, tape and rope is a complex problem when you do it the first time – and if you are not an architect.

For us, the non experts, no best practices exist to our knowledge!

The teams, who succeed best to build a tall structure are those, who understand the nature of the problem (complex) and intuitively apply the right method to solve it: probe – sense – respond. In more creative circles, this approach is called “prototyping”.

It does therefore come as no surprise that “recent graduates of business schools” come out last in the ranking of successful marshmallow spaghetti tower builders: they have been trained (maybe we could almost say: indoctrinated) to approach every problem as a complicated issue. Viewing themselves as experts, they believe that everything can be solved by analysis and correct response but in complex environments that’s just not what works.

Don’t make the same mistake and enjoy the video!