Teamwork, prototyping, and the Marshmallow Challenge
I was reflecting yesterday about issues around problem solving in teams when I recalled this TED video about the Marshmallow Challenge.
Some of my immediate connections:
- This is a real life way to demonstrate how complexity theory can illuminate certain dynamics in teams and organizations (and dissertation writing). If you’re trying to deal with a changing, sometimes ambiguous world, then it’s important to prototype what you do. We often want to plan things perfectly from the get go, but sometime that’s just hubris.
- Here is an oldie but goodie on the importance of prototyping and communication among leaders by Brown and Eisenhardt (1997) about work in ambiguous environments. I think anyone who has ever dealt with a room full of middle schoolers can attest that there are sometimes ambiguous, chaotic, and nonlinear cause-effect dynamics in education.
- Sometimes innovation and problem-solving are about trying out new ideas, even if they seem goofy or “unreasonable.” It’s no surprise that kindergarten students are good at this, but how can we help teacher teams look at achievement data or culture data (or whatever data) and still feel comfortable testing out creative solutions together?
Yet again, something to be learned just by watching our own students.