Summary of Build a Tower, Build a Team

Looking for the video?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 5 minutes.

Build a Tower, Build a Team summary
Start getting smarter:
or see our plans




  • Applicable


Imagine you have some raw spaghetti, tape, string and a marshmallow: Could you build a marshmallow-topped structure taller than those of your competitors? That’s the “marshmallow challenge,” a team-building exercise Tom Wujec, a business visualization expert, discusses in this brief TED Talk. His presentation is fun, and his lessons about teams, learning and performance are strikingly vivid. getAbstract recommends this presentation for teams in need of motivation and designers in need of inspiration.

About the Speaker

Tom Wujec researches how people process and share information. He is a fellow at Autodesk, which produces design and engineering software.



Consider this team-building design challenge: Teams of four had to build the “tallest freestanding structure” using 20 strands of raw spaghetti, a yard each of tape and string, and a marshmallow. This “marshmallow challenge” (so called because the marshmallow has to be on top) demands high-speed collaboration. Business visualization consultant Tom Wujec has used it globally in about 70 design workshops involving participants as diverse as executives and grade school students. This high-pressure, low-stakes exercise teaches valuable lessons about collaboration.

Most teams...

More on this topic

By the same author

The Future of Design
Got a Wicked Problem? First, Tell Me How You Make Toast

Customers who read this summary also read

How to Build a Company Where the Best Ideas Win
How to Build Your Confidence – and Spark It in Others
How to Build (and Rebuild) Trust
How We Can Build AI to Help Humans, Not Hurt Us
How Machine Learning Can Teach Us to Build More Effective Teams
How to Turn a Group of Strangers Into a Team

Related Channels

Comment on this summary

  • Avatar
  • Avatar
    S. L. 6 months ago
    I love the idea and concept of turning an "uh oh" moment into an "ah ha" moment! I plan to use the marshmallow challenge in my next department team meeting to promote and show the importance of teamwork.
  • Avatar
    M. S. 3 years ago
    The example of marshmallow challenge very clearly describe the importance of teamwork. it is very important to understand the logic that how comes children can build the best tower where as the adults and much qualified teams could not. the only thing is that when there is a team every single person has no limits or restriction to follow to get the best results.

    Think bigger, think out of the box !!
  • Avatar
    D. D. 5 years ago
    Inspired by this video created a variant of the marshmellow challenges for my training and connected it to Dan Pink's Ted Talk Idea of Extrinsic vs Intrinsic motivators. The higher the reward the more the training participants focus on the $ and not the quality of performance so almost 100% fail everytime. If they would win...I would be poor. Yet everytime the cash incentive hurts performance Imagine what it does at work over the years?!!!