Search posts by:

Archive Posts for 2016

Blog Author:
Ashka Wirk
Architect. Builder. Crystal Gazer.
Ashka is a management consultant focussed in Berlineaton's strategy practice. Ashka also is an experienced private sector leader, with an extensive background in the health care and biotechnology fields. She worked with the management consulting subsidiary of StemCell Technologies in Vancouver for eight years, and led the company through years of unprecedented growth as its CEO from 2008 to 2012. She draws upon her breadth of experience and passion for business strategy to help Berlineaton clients develop blueprints to build bolder futures for their organizations.
Four Leadership Lessons We Learned from the Marshmallow Challenge
We recently planned and facilitated a 3-day senior leadership meeting for a client with over 100 leaders from around the province attending.

During the meeting, we invited the group to participate in the Marshmallow Challenge – in which small groups of 5-10 people attempt to build the tallest freestanding structure using 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, and 1 yard of string…to balance 1 marshmallow on top…in 18 minutes.
Here are my leadership lessons from the Marshmallow Challenge:

1. Have a clear shared vision. I saw that the teams that did exceptionally well in this challenge spent time at the beginning developing a shared understanding of what they were trying to achieve (before jumping into action).

2. Make mistakes (just make sure it’s a new mistake each time). The best performing teams learned iteratively. They didn't wait until the last minute to try putting the marshmallow on top, there was no ‘ta-da’ moment. Rather, they tried something, tested it, learned from what did or did not work the last time, and tried again. The winning team called it their ‘collaborate-fail cycle’.

3. Skills and experience matter. It’s not about age, but has more to do with #2 above – bringing forward the knowledge gained from past ‘mistakes’.

4. Believe that you will succeed. In medicine, it’s called emotional immunity – the protective effects of a positive outlook on one’s well-being. During our debrief after the Marshmallow Challenge, the high performing teams consistently noted that they knew they were up to the challenge and felt that this positive attitude contributed to their success.

Thanks to everyone who participated for a fantastic experience!

Take a Free Assessment
Will your organization exist five years from now?
Organizations that thrive excel in three areas: 

  • Direction: a clear, widely shared, and aspirational vision of the future and a compelling road map to get there.
  • Process: clear, effective and efficient steps that create meaningful outputs. Daily tasks and deliverables yield their best results when processes are clear and strong, and aligned with organizational objectives. Processes facilitate the alignment of action with direction.
  • People: People make it all happen. People have the skills, capacity, and impetus to translate strategic intent into reality. Ultimately, people and the culture they create drive an organization towards its chosen future. 
Where does your organization stand right now? Take a few minutes to complete our free assessment and find out. Click on the button below to launch the assessment.