★★☆TED Lesson / Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team (トム・ウージェック:塔を建て、チームを作る)

2012年08月03日 ★★☆, business, culture, design, entertainment, TED.

TED Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team

About This Talk

Tom Wujec presents some surprisingly deep research into the “marshmallow problem” — a simple team-building exercise that involves dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. Who can build the tallest tower with these ingredients? And why does a surprising group always beat the average?

*There is a word list below the script. The list includes blue colored words which are in the script.




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(1) Several years ago here at TED, Peter Skillman introduced a design challenge called the marshmallow challenge. And the idea’s pretty simple: Teams of four have to build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and a marshmallow. The marshmallow has to be on top. And, though it seems really simple, it’s actually pretty hard because it forces people to collaborate very quickly. And so, I thought this was an interesting idea, and I incorporated it into a design workshop. And it was a huge success. And since then, I’ve conducted about 70 design workshops across the world with students and designers and architects, even the CTOs of the Fortune 50, and there’s something about this exercise that reveals very deep lessons about the nature of collaboration, and I’d like to share some of them with you.

(2) So, normally, most people begin by orienting themselves to the task. They talk about it, they figure out what it’s going to look like, they jockey for power. Then they spend some time planning, organizing, they sketch and they lay out spaghetti. They spend the majority of their time assembling the sticks into ever-growing structures. And then finally, just as they’re running out of time, someone takes out the marshmallow, and then they gingerly put it on top, and then they stand back, and — ta-da! — they admire their work. But what really happens, most of the time, is that the “ta-da” turns into an “uh-oh,” because the weight of the marshmallow causes the entire structure to buckle and to collapse.

(3) So there are a number of people who have a lot more “uh-oh” moments than others, and among the worst are recent graduates of business school. (Laughter) They lie, they cheat, they get distracted and they produce really lame structures. And of course there are teams that have a lot more “ta-da” structures, and among the best are recent graduates of kindergarten. (Laughter) And it’s pretty amazing. As Peter tells us, not only do they produce the tallest structures, but they’re the most interesting structures of them all.

(4) So the question you want to ask is: How come? Why? What is it about them? And Peter likes to say that none of the kids spend any time trying to be CEO of Spaghetti, Inc. Right? They don’t spend time jockeying for power. But there’s another reason as well. And the reason is that business students are trained to find the single right plan, right? And then they execute on it. And then what happens is, when they put the marshmallow on the top, they run out of time and what happens? It’s a crisis. Sound familiar? Right. What kindergarteners do differently is that they start with the marshmallow, and they build prototypes, successive prototypes, always keeping the marshmallow on top, so they have multiple times to fix when they build prototypes along the way. Designers recognize this type of collaboration as the essence of the iterative process. And with each version, kids get instant feedback about what works and what doesn’t work.

(5) So the capacity to play in prototype is really essential, but let’s look at how different teams perform. So the average for most people is around 20 inches; business schools students, about half of that; lawyers, a little better, but not much better than that, kindergarteners, better than most adults. Who does the very best? Architects and engineers, thankfully. (Laughter) Thirty-nine inches is the tallest structure I’ve seen. And why is it? Because they understand triangles and self-reinforcing geometrical patterns are the key to building stable structures. So CEOs, a little bit better than average, but here’s where it gets interesting. If you put you put an executive admin. on the team, they get significantly better. (Laughter) It’s incredible. You know, you look around, you go, “Oh, that team’s going to win.” You can just tell beforehand. And why is that? Because they have special skills of facilitation. They manage the process, they understand the process. And any team who manages and pays close attention to work will significantly improve the team’s performance. Specialized skills and facilitation skills are the combination that leads to strong success. If you have 10 teams that typically perform, you’ll get maybe six or so that have standing structures.

(6) And I tried something interesting. I thought, let’s up the ante, once. So I offered a 10,000 dollar prize of software to the winning team. So what do you think happened to these design students? What was the result? Here’s what happened: Not one team had a standing structure. If anyone had built, say, a one inch structure, they would have taken home the prize. So, isn’t that interesting? That high stakes have a strong impact. We did the exercise again with the same students. What do you think happened then? So now they understand the value of prototyping. So the same team went from being the very worst to being among the very best. They produced the tallest structures in the least amount of time. So there’s deep lessons for us about the nature of incentives and success.

(7) So, you might ask: Why would anyone actually spend time writing a marshmallow challenge? And the reason is, I help create digital tools and processes to help teams build cars and video games and visual effects. And what the marshmallow challenge does is it helps them identify the hidden assumptions. Because, frankly, every project has its own marshmallow, doesn’t it? The challenge provides a shared experience, a common language, a common stance to build the right prototype. And so, this is the value of the experience, of this so simple exercise.

(8) And those of you who are interested may want to go to MarshmallowChallenge.com. It’s a blog that you can look at how to build the marshmallows. There’s step-by-step instructions on this. There are crazy examples from around the world of how people tweak and adjust the system. There’s world records that are on this as well.

(9) And the fundamental lesson, I believe, is that design truly is a contact sport. It demands that we bring all of our senses to the task, and that we apply the very best of our thinking, our feeling and our doing to the challenge that we have at hand. And sometimes, a little prototype of this experience is all that it takes to turn us from an “uh-oh” moment to a “ta-da” moment. And that can make a big difference.

Thank you very much.



Let’s talk about the article base on the questions below.

Viewpoints or discussion

  1. Do you think you can make a good marshmallow structure? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think making mistakes and taking risks are an important part to success?
  3. Is making mistakes acceptable at your workplace? Why or why not?



(1) challenge /ˈCHalənj/ noun, a task or situation that tests someone’s abilities

free-standing / ˈfrēˈstanding/ adjective, not supported by any other structure, independent or not relying to anything else

string /strɪŋ/ noun ‣FOR TYING/FASTENING 1 [U, C] material made of several threads twisted together, used for tying things together; a piece of string used to fasten or pull sth or keep sth in place:

collaborate /kəˈlabəˌrāt/ verb, work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something

incorporated /inˈkôrpəˌrātid/ adjective, of or relating to a company; formed into a legal corporation

workshop /ˈwərkˌSHäp/ noun, a meeting at which a group of people engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject matter

huge success the highest achievement of something desired, planned or attempted

architect /ˈɑːkɪtekt / noun 1 a person whose job is designing buildings, etc.

conduct /kənˈdəkt/ verb, organize or carry out

collaboration /kəˌlabəˈrāSHən/ noun, the action of working with someone to produce or create something

(2) orient /ˈôrēˌənt/ verb, adjust or tailor something or someone to specified circumstances or needs

jockey for power verb, doing every means necessary to gain power or success

assemble /əˈsembəl/ verb, 1. gather together in one place for a common purpose 2. fit together the separate components or parts

run out of time idiom, to have used up most of the allotted time; to have no time left

gingerly /ˈjinjərlē/ adverb, in a careful or cautious manner.  adjective, showing great care or caution

stand back idiom, to take a step backward

admire /ədˈmī(ə)r/ verb, regard with respect or warm approval

most of the time idiom, frequently

buckle /ˈbəkəl/ verb, bend and give way under pressure or strain

collapse /kəˈlaps/ verb, fall down, or give way

(3) distracted /disˈtraktəd/ adjective, unable to concentrate because one’s mind is preoccupied

lame /lām/ adjective, uninspiring and dull,

amazing /əˈmāziNG/ adjective, causing great surprise or wonder; astonishing

(4) execute /ˈeksiˌkyo͞ot/ verb, carry out or put into effect

successive/səkˈsesɪv/ adj. [only before noun] following immediately one after the other

prototype /ˈprōtəˌtīp/ noun, a first, typical or preliminary model of something, especially a machine, from which other forms are developed or copied

essence /ˈesəns/ noun, the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines the character

iterative /ˈitəˌrātiv, -rətiv/ adjective, relating to or involving iteration, especially of a mathematical process or computational process

instant feedback a quick way of returning information or result

(5) capacity /kəˈpasitē/ noun, the ability or the power to do, experience     or understand something

essential /iˈsenCHəl/ adjective, absolutely necessary, extremely important

perform /pərˈfôrm/ verb, carry out, accomplish, or fulfill an action, task or function

reinforce/ˌriːɪnˈfᴐːs/ verb 1 ~ sth to make a feeling, an idea, etc. stronger:

geometric /ˌdʒiːəˈmetrɪk/ (also less frequent geometrical /‐ɪkl/) adj. of GEOMETRY; of or like the lines, shapes, etc. used in GEOMETRY, especially because of having regular shapes or lines:

executive /igˈzekyətiv, eg-/ noun, a person with senior managerial responsibility in a business organization

incredible /inˈkredəbəl/ adjective, impossible to believe

beforehand /biˈfôrˌhand/ adverb, before an action or event; in advance

facilitation /fəˌsiləˈtāSHən/ noun, the action of facilitating something

pay close attention idiom, to be particular with the details

significant /sigˈnifikənt/ adjective, sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention; noteworthy

specialized /ˈspeSHəˌlīzd/ adjective, requiring or involving detailed and specific knowledge or training

combination /ˌkämbəˈnāSHən/ noun, a joining or merging of different parts or qualities        in which  the component elements are individually distinct

typical /ˈtipikəl/ adjective having the distinctive qualities of a particular type of person or thing

(6) up the ante idiom, raise the stakes

high stakes idiom, used to describe a situation that has a lot of risk and in which someone is likely to either get or lose an advantage

strong impact idiom, with very high effect on something

incentive /inˈsentiv/ noun, a thing that motivates or encourages one to do something

(7) identify /īˈdentəˌfī/ verb, associate closely with; regard as having strong links with or relationship with

assumption /əˈsəm(p)SHən/ noun, a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen

shared experience idiom, having the same experience with someone else

common language idiom, being able to understand each other on the same level of degree

stance /stans/ noun, the attitude of a person or organization toward something; a standpoint

(8) step-by-step adjective, one thing at a time

tweak /twēk/ verb, twist or pull something sharply

adjust /əˈjəst/ alter or move (something) slightly in order to achieve the desired fit, appearance, or resul

(9) fundamental /ˌfəndəˈmentl/ adjective, forming a necessary base or core; of central importance

contract sport idiom, a game that needs to be played with conditions

bring all of one’s senses idiom, to give direct attention to something

big difference idiom, a state or condition in which something or someone is completely unlike or not the same with the other



 (1) 数年前のTEDでピーター スキルマンが マシュマロ チャレンジという デザインの課題を紹介してくれました ルールはとても単純です 4人から成るチームが 20本のスパゲッティと テープとひもを90センチずつ、それにマシュマロで できるだけ高い自立式の建造物を作るのです マシュマロを一番上に乗せなければなりません 簡単そうですが、実はかなり難しいんです チームの人と素早く 協力しなければいけませんから これは面白いと思って デザインの講習に組み込んでみました 大成功でした それ以来 世界中で70回ぐらい行っています 学生やデザイナーや建築家、そして フォーチュン50企業のCTOまでが参加しています この演習には 共同作業の本質に関わる 深い教訓が含まれています その一部をご紹介します

(2) 通常、多くの人々は 課題の確認から取りかかります 課題について話し、どんな形にすべきか検討し 主導権争いをします それからしばらくは計画と準備に時間を割きます スケッチを描いてスパゲティの配置を決めます 持ち時間の大半は スパゲッティを組み立てて建造物を高くすることに費やされ 終了時間の間際になってようやく 誰かがマシュマロを取り出し 慎重にそれを一番上に置き 後ろに下がって「やったー!」 自分たちの作品を褒め称えます でも多くの場合実際には 「やったー」が「あーあ」に変わります マシュマロの重みで建造物全体が ひしゃげて潰れてしまうからです

(3) ある種の人々は、他の人と比べ 「あーあ」という結果になりがちです 一番ひどいのはビジネススクールの新卒者たちです (笑) 嘘をつき、ズルをし、気を散らせて ほんとうにひどい建造物を作ります もちろん「やったー」という結果に なることの多いグループもあります 一番上手なのは幼稚園の新卒者たちです (笑) 本当に驚くべきことです ピーターが言うように 幼稚園児たちは高いだけでなく 一番面白い建造物を作ります

(4) 皆さん疑問に思われるでしょう なぜか? 何によってそうなるのか? ピーターはこう言います 「子どもたちはスパゲッティ株式会社の 社長になろうなんてしていないのです」そのとおり 権力争いで時間を無駄にはしません でも別の理由もあります ビジネススクールの学生たちは 適切なプランを1つ見出すように教育されています そしてプランの通りに実施します 彼らがマシュマロを一番上に乗せる頃には 時間がなくなっています そして何が起きるか? 危機です 聞いたことがあるような状況ですね? 幼稚園児たちが違っているのは マシュマロから始めるところです いつもマシュマロを一番上に置いて 次々と試作品を作ります だから出来の悪い試作品を何度も修正できるのです デザイナーの方なら、そのような作業こそ 反復型プロセスの本質だと気付かれるでしょう 作るたびにフィードバックが得られ 上手く行く点、行かない点がすぐにわかります

(5) 試作品を作る能力は本当に重要なのです チームのタイプごとの成績を見てみましょう 全体の平均は50センチくらいです ビジネススクールの学生はその半分ぐらいで 弁護士はそれよりはましですが平均以下です 幼稚園児はほとんどの大人たちよりも優れています 一番良くできたのは誰でしょう? 建築家とエンジニアです 少しほっとしますね (笑) 99センチというのが私の見た最高記録です なぜか? 彼らは安定した建造物を作るには 三角形と自己強化する幾何学構造が キーポイントになることを 知っているからです CEOたちは平均よりも少し良い結果を出しています でも面白いことに チームに管理責任者を置くと 彼らの成績が著しく上がるのです (笑) 全体を見回したときに「あそこが勝つな」と 終わる前からわかります どうしてでしょう? 管理役の人々はファシリテーションという 特殊技能を持っているからです 彼らはプロセスを理解し、管理します どのチームであれ 作業を注意深く観察し管理すれば パフォーマンスを大幅に向上させることができます 特殊技能とファシリテーションの技能 そしてその組み合わせが大きな成功へと導くのです ごく普通の10チームがあったとすると 多分6チームぐらいは建っている構造体を作るでしょう

(6) それで面白いことを試してみました 掛け金を上げようと思ったのです 優勝チームには1万ドル分のソフトウェアを贈ることにしました するとデザインを学ぶ学生たちに何が起きたと思いますか? 結果はどうなったのか? こうなりました 1チームとして立っている構造体ができなかったのです たった3センチでも良いから立つものを作っていたら 賞品を持ち帰れたというのに 高額賞品の存在が甚だしい影響を生む というのは面白いですね 4ヶ月後、同じ学生たちにもう一度演習をさせました 今度はどうなったと思いますか? 彼らは試作品を作ることの重要性を理解し 最低のチームから トップクラスの成績を残すチームになったのです 最小限の時間で最も高い建造物を作りました ここに動機づけと成功の性質についての 重要な教訓があります

(7) どうしてマシュマロチャレンジなんかを やっているのかと疑問に思われるかもしれません その理由は、私の仕事が デジタルツールやプロセスを作って 車やゲームや視覚効果の制作者たちを 手助けすることだからです そしてマシュマロ チャレンジは 彼らが隠れた仮定を見出すのに役立つのです なぜならば 実のところ どんなプロジェクトにも固有のマシュマロがあるからです この課題を通し、適切な試作をするための 共通の体験、共通の言葉 共通の態度が築かれるのです それが この実に単純な演習の 価値なのです

(8) 興味を持った方は marshmallowchallenge.comをご覧ください どうやってマシュマロの建造物を建てるかを 見ることができます マシュマロ チャレンジを行うための手順が書かれています 世界中の人が創意工夫した クレージーな例が見られます マシュマロ チャレンジの世界記録もあります

(9) 根本的な教訓は デザインというのは本当に コンタクトスポーツであるということです 作業に全感覚を投入することを要求され 自分の最高の 思考と感性と行動を適用して 手にした難問に向かう必要があります ちょっとした試作を行うだけで 「あーあ」を「やったー」に 変えられることもあります そしてそれは大きな変化を起こし得るのです



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