Less anxiety and more marshmallow for a successful team

An illustration of marshmallows.

Over a period of five years, designer and engineer Peter Skillman tasked various teams to build the highest possible structure using just 20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti, some string, some sticky tape and a single marshmallow. The only rule was the marshmallow had to end up on top of the structure.


He carried out this experiment with teams from a number of universities and business schools; he got engineers, lawyers and executives involved, but the best average results came from nursery age children. This should come as a surprise, but when you look at how the different teams interacted it isn’t.

Every team, with the exception of nursery pupils - while appearing to collaborate - were actually working within a number of limiting parameters. Who is in charge? Is it ok to criticise? What are the rules here? Is it ok to make a mistake? The adults spent so long discussing the problems that they would run out of time, or their structures would collapse.

The nursery children on the other hand - while appearing to be disorganised - were incredibly efficient. They did not compete for status; they worked together energetically and started tackling the problem immediately. They experimented, took risks and noted outcomes which guided them to an effective solution.

At Amiqus, we have a poster which we share with people before they start working with us.

A graphic of an its okay to poster, with a list of things that it is okay to be

We’re a young company, but we’re just as invested in promoting a positive company culture for our team as we are in providing great products for our customers. We recognise that for people to do their best work - and for us to benefit from it - everyone on our team needs to feel comfortable getting creative, taking risks and making mistakes; it’s how we learn and it’s how our products improve.

Diversity is a focus for most organisations, but I often see this coming down to numbers and stats. Companies achieve parity in percentages across their key areas of diversity (which is a positive), but then think their job is done (which is definitely a negative). Building a diverse workforce will only matter if you allow it to matter: if you allow your people to influence the way your company works.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development describes diversity in the workplace as “valuing everyone in the organisation as an individual. To reap the benefits of a diverse workforce it’s vital to have an inclusive environment where everyone feels able to participate and achieve their potential.”

At Amiqus we want a variety of people and personalities to enhance not only our company culture, but our ability to look at problems in different ways. We want everyone in our team to spend more time on the spaghetti and marshmallows and less time with the worries that might hold them back.

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