Tip of the Week: Spaghetti, with a Side of Teambuilding

Happy Monday! Here’s the third installment of our new Tip of the Week column, where we pass along tools, time-savers, and just-plain-genius ideas that your colleagues and members of The Association have suggested and tested.


Teambuilding…. It’s great when you’re doing it, but let’s face it—sometimes the word alone gets some eyes rolling. Wayside Waifs shares one of the most popular activities they’ve engaged in to get staff collaborating and thinking in new ways. Are you ready for the Spaghetti Marshmallow Challenge?!

The premise is simple: Employees work together in groups of 4 to build the tallest freestanding tower they can in 10 minutes—using just 20 sticks of spaghetti, one marshmallow, one yard of tape and one yard of string. You’ll find complete instructions here, courtesy of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University. Wayside Waifs’ Kathryn Mahoney, CPA, CAWA, Vice President, Finance & Administration, has some helpful hints if you’d like to give this one a try:

  • “There is some setup involved with gathering the supplies,” says Mahoney, “and it’s probably best to build the structures on tables, but overall not difficult to prepare. I had everyone number off so they wouldn’t just go to friends or those within their work group.”
  • Give folks a little time to settle in to the idea. “The concept was new to most, if not all, of the staff, so it took a minute for them to get their bearings,” says Mahoney. “They had to figure out not only how to work together as a team, but also how to go about the process of building.”
  • While it’s not necessary to provide a prize for the winning team, says Mahoney, “Certificates, candy or anything inexpensive would work.” In addition to bragging rights and a taste of friendly competition, of course.

Once the activity was underway, Mahoney recalls, “There were those who went straight into building, and those who came up with a concept before building. There were definitely some structures that failed, so that was a learning experience.” The Spaghetti Marshmallow Challenge was particularly impactful because, says Mahoney, “It paralleled us working together toward our mission.”

If you’ve got a helpful how-to that’s easy to grok and even easier to implement, leave a comment and tell us all about it.

Learn More

Complete Instructions: Spaghetti Marshmallow Challenge
Tip of the Week: Just Chillin’
Tip of the Week: Which Communities Most Need Resources? There’s a Map for That

Photos: Wayside Waifs


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