Teambuilding and Marshmallows

Build what? a TEAM!

Group dynamics. They are perhaps one of the most influential factors that determine the rise and fall of businesses, the ups and downs of projects, the highs and lows of motivation. Group dynamics. What does this mean exactly? The interplay between members of a group that work on a task is much more complex than we often think. What skills are necessary, what personality traits? Does it even matter? Or can you just throw together a bunch of people and make them work on one thing and expect their work to be a success? Let’s take a look at what it takes to build a team.

Meet Teambuilding Guru Tom Wujec

Tom Wujec knows the answer to these questions. He is an innovative practitioner of business visualization – the art of using images, sketches and infographics to help teams solve complex problems as a group. He coaches companies in business visualization and helps their teams grow into one blended unit.

He used the opportunity to give a TED Talk on a very vital part of his job – the “marshmallow challenge”. What’s a marshmallow got to do with this, you ask?

The idea is pretty simple: Teams of four have to build the tallest free-standing structure made out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and a marshmallow.”, Wujec explains.

Interesting challenge, yes. But the findings were even more extraordinary. These findings are surprisingly relevant in today’s working environment. For anyone who has had at least some experience in the working world today, the results of this challenge will sound strangely familiar. Because after all, “every project has its own marshmallow”, according to Wujec. Regardless of whether the product is a car, a pen or a baseball mitten, each of these products will only experience a successful launch, if the structure beneath it (the very foundation on which the product is developed, built and tested) is stable enough to hold it throughout the process.

For example, it is known that people can crumble under too much pressure. Want to know how high stakes – like a prize of 10.000 Euro – influenced the outcome of the marshmallow challenge? Moreover, children have every now and then proven that they are the most creative geniuses, much more than experienced adults, in finding solutions to problems. Also in this challenge, children were able to provide the most interesting and tallest structures in comparison with most of the adults. This may serve as another food for thought, which has been often discussed: Might education really be squandering our creativity over time?

If you want to know why business graduates fail more often or what exactly makes children’s approach so successful, then watch and get inspired by marshmallows and spaghetti here:

Photo credit: Cover image by Pixabay

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About Olivia List

Olivia is doing her Master's in Business studies and has specialized in marketing before. She is interested in health topics, innovations in the health industry, psychology as well as digital marketing and media and loves to eat, think, talk and write about food ;)

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