Build a Tower, Build a Team.

Today in our Master of Arts Learning and Technology (MALAT) program, we were placed in groups of four to six people to develop our team building skills. We were given the task of constructing a marshmallow tower out of 20 strands of dry spaghetti, a yard of tape, one yard of twine and one marshmallow (Marshmallow Challenge). The goal was to build the tallest freestanding tower  within an 18 minute window of time. In order to achieve this task, our teams were to communicate an develop a strategy of execution, prototype and collaborate ideas, compromise, prioritize and delegate of tasks in order to complete the exercise successfully.

After devising a plan and sharing ideas, our team executed the task of constructing  a tower within the allotted time frame. Unfortunately, our tower snapped seconds after it was erect. However, even though our tower build fell apart, our team was still intact. We came together as a unit and learned how to collaborate and share ideas, allocate our time efficiently and had open communication. The main takeaway from this team building exercise was prototyping and the inclusion of ideas from all members of the team.

After the challenge was completed, we watched a TEDTalk by Tom Wujec, who presented some surprisingly deep research into the “marshmallow problem” — Why does a surprising group always beat the average?

Overall, the team building experience was a powerful technique for improving a team’s capacity to generate creative ideas, build team unity and incorporate innovation through prototyping. I would recommend trying this technique within any organization that wants to foster team rapport and spark creativity within the workplace or classroom.

References,. ‘The Marshmallow Challenge’. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.

Wujec, Tom. ‘Build A Tower, Build A Team’. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.


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