I Just Want To Have Fun

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"Do we really need to learn calculus?"

“Do we really need to learn calculus?”

Peter Skillman is a well-known designer of technology products. For five years he tested teams of people with an experiment called “The Spaghetti Problem.”

Here’s how it works: Each team gets 20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti, some string, some tape, and a marshmallow. They have 18 minutes to create the tallest possible structure that will support the weight of the marshmallow. He tested teams of engineers, managers, MBAs, etc.

The engineers did pretty well, putting that marshmallow on top of 24 inches of spaghetti. But they were not the highest performing group. Who had the highest structure, topping all competitors with 25 big inches? Kindergarten kids.

Skillman sums it up something like this, “The kids jump right in. There’s no ten-minute discussion about who’s going to be the CEO of the Spaghetti Corporation.”

Incidentally, do you know who had the lowest score on this test? Business school students.

I suspect the kids were just having fun. Maybe people work better that way.

You can watch Peter Skillman talk about his results here:

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4 Responses to I Just Want To Have Fun

  1. ben walker says:

    Not much fun problem solving with boffins…

    • happyjoe says:

      Thanks for your comment, Ben. Since I had no idea what a “boffin” was, and since I assumed no one who speaks American English will have any idea either, I took the liberty of googling the term and placing the definition below.

      “A boffin is British slang for a scientist, engineer, or other person engaged in technical or scientific work.”

      So now we now. Maybe I’ll go eat some bangers and mash in a pork pie hat – does that make sense? Of course not.

  2. Interesting Post, Joe. I’m totally on board with your statement: “I suspect the kids were just having fun. Maybe people work better that way.”

    I used to watch “The Dobie Gillis Show” in the early sixties. Dobie had a beatnick friend named Maynard G. Crebs. Anytime Maynard heard the word “work” he had a minor seizure. I can relate to that.

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