In 2006 designer Peter Skillman created a design challenge called "The Marshmallow Challenge" where the assignment is for a team of 4 to build the tallest free-standing structure that can support a marshmallow at its top. The teams only get to use 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, and of course, 1 marshmallow (the big kind for s'mores — not the little kind you put in hot chocolate). They have 18 minutes to complete the assignment.
Tom Wujec is an Autodesk Fellow. Tom routinely works with Autodesk customers optimizing their business processes — often including how Autodesk software can play a greater role in addresses their challenges. As part of working with these customers, Tom conducts The Marshmallow Challenge since the exercise forces teams to collaborate quickly. It sets the tone for the day so the participants can then move on to the resolving company-specific challenges. In previous blog posts, I have mentioned Tom's use of The Marshmallow Challenge.
- Peruvian Children Smoke Marshmallow Challenge in Six Minutes
- TED Marshmallow Challenge Gets Upscaled
- The towers that Andy built...
Well lo and behold if I did not see something similar in a recent posting on The Wall Street Journal:
In software development parlance, "spaghetti code" is a bad thing. It evokes an image of programming code that lacks a well formed structure — much like cooked spaghetti. Who knew its uncooked form could be a building block for design thinking? Well I guess Tom did. He's been using the challenge for 8 years old now.
Edible structures are alive in the lab.