Kellogg | Mr. Big Beer
GMAT Waived, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. Indian Quant
GMAT 750, GPA 7.54/10
Darden | Mr. Corporate Dev
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.8
Duke Fuqua | Mr. CPA To Finance
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Wharton | Mr. Big 4
GMAT 770, GPA 8/10
Wharton | Ms. General Motors
GRE 330, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Venture Lawyer
GRE 330, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Ms. Project Mananger
GMAT 770, GPA 3.86
Stanford GSB | Ms. Digital Health
GMAT 720, GPA 3.48
Yale | Mr. Philanthropy Chair
GMAT Awaiting Scores (expect 700-720), GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
Foster School of Business | Mr. Construction Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.77
Ross | Mr. Stockbroker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. Harvard Hopeful
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. LGBTQ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.58
Kellogg | Mr. Risky Business
GMAT 780, GPA 3.5
Kellogg | Mr. CPA To MBA
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.2
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Southern California
GMAT 710, GPA 3.58
Harvard | Ms. World Explorer
GMAT 710 (aiming for 750), GPA 4.33/5
Ross | Mr. Brazilian Sales Guy
GRE 326, GPA 77/100 (USA Avg. 3.0)
Kellogg | Ms. MBA For Social Impact
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
London Business School | Mr. Consulting To IB
GMAT 700, GPA 2.4
Berkeley Haas | Mx. CPG Marketer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.95
NYU Stern | Mr. Washed-Up Athlete
GRE 325, GPA 3.4
Kellogg | Mr. White Finance
GMAT Not Taken, GPA 3.97
MIT Sloan | Mr. NFL Team Analyst
GMAT 720, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Russland Native
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5

How Spaghetti & Marshmallows Are Being Used To Teach Creative Problem Framing At Haas


The lesson: Most MBAs spend too much time planning and debating instead of simply doing. And generally, they leave the marshmallow as an afterthought, finding out that it’s too heavy for the spaghetti sticks at the end when they are running out of time. Instead, the lesson is that they should be testing their assumptions continuously, trying different things out right away, and checking the sturdiness of the structure by putting the marshmallow on much earlier than they do.

It’s a bit humbling when Beckman tells the class that kindergarten children are far more successful than MBA students at the exercise. “None of the kids want to be CEO,” says Beckman, “and business school students are trained to do the single best thing—rather than try many things and iterate along the way.”

Ultimately, says Beckman, MBA students find it challenging to think in different ways—which is essential to the innovation process. “When we worked on taking different points of view,” she adds, “they watched the trailer for a documentary on the American Teacher and identified the different points of view in the video. Then in class we taught them how to do ethnographic interviewing, and had them try it out on each other to capture the high school experience. They then contrasted what they had learned about high school from each other (a student view) with what they learned from the video about other views (teachers, administrators, media).”

Whether it’s a discussion on taking different points of view or building a spaghetti tower, the aim of the course is to open up MBA minds to more innovative thinking. “What we’re trying to do is say we think you have good tools for solving problems,” says Beckman. “But do you have good tools for looking at problems in the first place?”


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.