The Marshmallow Challenge

Stay Pufffed!

Spaghetti and Marshmallow

The Marshmallow Challenge is a simple team exercise that requires a group of people to build the tallest possible structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape and 1 marshmallow placed on top.

Based on a talk by Tom Wujec on, business school students create some of the worst structures while kindergarten children rustle up the tallest and most innovative of standing structures. Unsurprisingly (and luckily), the winners are architects and engineers, people who have specialist knowledge in structural engineering.

So what does this challenge teach us? That building things iteratively brings us closer to success with every attempt we make. That prototyping works by helping us put Plan-Do-Check-Act into practice. That specialised skills plus facilitation gives us a greater chance of success. That keeping the goal in mind by testing your structure by placing the marshmallow on top as you evolve a structure is why kindergarten children do better than business school graduates. That fun is fundamental to the forming and continuous development of a healthy, well-functioning team. Put all these observations together and what do they spell? Yes! Agile Delivery in action.

Are you ready to take on the Marshmallow Challenge as a team?

4 Responses to “The Marshmallow Challenge”

  1. El Marqués de Carabás writes:


    Today, I applied this challenge to my students. Time is the principal aim to pass, but they don’t consider that. The fun wasn’t present during all practice, and the evaluation was so general. It’s interesting to analize why the structure fail and why only one group of six did it: ¡73cm!

  2. Jeanette writes:

    The marshmallow challenge sounds really fun. I remember building toothpick bridges when I was younger but I bet the spaghetti would be a lot more difficult.

  3. Bob writes:

    You forgot the 1 yard string

  4. portiatung writes:

    Thanks for your comment! When I play this challenge, I usually leave out the string. How does having the string affect the outcome and learning points of the exercise I wonder?

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