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Collaboration lessons from the marshmallow challenge
June 14th, 2011 by Joca

Ingredients:

  • Groups of 4 people
  • 20 sticks of spaghetti
  • one yard of tape
  • one yard of string
  • a marshmallow

Time constrain: 18 minutes

Objective: tallest freestanding structure

Lessons:

  • Who consistently performs worst? Recent business school graduates
  • Who consistently performs well? Recent kindergarten school graduates. Not only the tallest but the most interesting structures.
  • Why kindergarten school graduates do better than business school graduates? First, none of the kids spent any time trying to be CEO of “Spaghetti Inc.”. Business students are trained to find the single right solution. Kindergarteners build prototypes several times, get instant feedback of what work and what doesn’t and refine.
  • The very best group? Architects and engineers, thankfully!
  • CEOs with an executive admin perform significantly better than just CEOs. Why? Because they have special skills of facilitation. They manage the process.
  • Specialized Skills + Facilitation Skills = Success!
  • Incentives + Low Skills = no success.
  • Incentives + High Skill = Success!
  • Every project has its own marshmallow.
  • Shared Experience + Common Language + Prototyping & Facilitation
  • Sometimes a little prototype is all it takes to transform an Oh-Oh moment into a Ta-Da moment!
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