In early February, the JotForm UX research team organized a workshop to tackle the default theme of our forms. The workshop aimed to create stronger bonds and facilitate collaboration between designers, UX researchers, and UI developers. Each participant teamed up with the person sitting next to them. We had five highly skilled teams with no idea what was coming.
The spaghetti challenge!
The spaghetti challenge is a fun and instructive exercise that encourages teams to think creatively and cooperatively. It was exactly what we needed to get our creative juices flowing.
Each team received 20 sticks of spaghetti, a meter of tape, one marshmallow, a huge table to work at, and an epic quest to create the tallest self-standing spaghetti tower with a marshmallow crown in less than 30 minutes.
After we started, each team huddled up to form their strategy. Some started with pen and paper; some jumped right in with the spaghetti and tape. The team members worked on the challenge until the last second.
Watching the teams make rapid decisions and communicate and engage with each other was interesting. We as moderators were very impressed. The competition was very close, and all the teams built their towers; however, some of them didn’t survive until the end.
What did our designers say?
“I learned to work with someone I never worked with before. I observed and experienced how other people think and work together. I realized that each designer had a different approach to the challenge but also when we worked together we were so powerful!” —Mercan, Designer
“Working with a colleague I hadn’t worked with closely before was definitely a benefit of this challenge. We had the chance to bond and understand each other. It reflects how each person approaches a problem. Some people just dive into the solution that first comes to mind and improve it along the way, while some (this was us) try to find a perfect solution before getting down to the job. Since both of us were detailed thinkers when it came to solving a problem, we started slowly but correctly. However, we were way too perfectionist for such a short task. For that reason, we had to wrap it up and didn’t finish the way we planned. But this showed me that sometimes it’s better to just get things rolling instead of planning too much.” —Dilem, Designer
“It breaks. It breaks more often than one would expect.” —Recep, Designer
What did we learn?
The spaghetti challenge isn’t just a fun game but an intuitive team building and rapid decision-making tool. Our team learned the importance of rapid prototyping and “doing rather than talking,” as well as the need to communicate with each other and express themselves, even if that meant starting over from scratch.
The spaghetti challenge provides powerful techniques to improve a team’s idea generation process and quickly build functional prototypes, all of which are the core components of intentional innovation.