Candy And Decision Making Styles

April 25, 2018

I am a chocoholic, therefore I love two very effective learning tasks that involve counting M&M’s. This article is focused on the first activity, which uses M&M’s to allow participants to experience the consequences of different direction decision-making fashions. A subsequent article focuses on the next activity, which utilizes M&M’s to experience the process and impact of a job audit.

That is an activity that I believe I adapted many years back from a single printed for public use from the Pfeiffer Annuals.

Before the course, I fill a glass jar to the top with peanut M&M’s candy from a large bag. use peanut M&M’s rather than plain M&M’s candies because I need to count the total number of M&M’s necessary to fill the jar. A large bag may have over 500 pieces of candy!

I shape seven small groups and assign each a distinct decision making design they’ll use to estimate how many M&M’s have been in the jar. The group coming up with the amount closest to the total in the jar will win the jar and its contents.


I appoint one member to be the leader. This person is told to exercise control by such ways as telling the group how to sit waiting for the choice to be made and also how to use their time whether she’s deciding.

The chief then estimates the amount of candy bits are in the jar and admits their choice to the group.

2. The member with the most expertise makes the decision.

I decorate the member with the most instruction in mathematics to be the leader. This “pro” then considers how many candy bits are in the jar, makes a decision, and announces it to the group.

3. The remarks of those individual members have been averaged.

Each member of the team is advised to back away from the group so that s/he cannot understand the responses of other band members and they can’t view her or his response. Each member separately estimates the number of candy pieces in the jar without interacting with all the other group members.

The resulting amount is declared as the team’s decision.

4. The member having the most authority makes the decision following a group discussion.

I appoint one member to be the chief, and calls the assembly to order. The “authority” asks the team to talk about how many candy bits are in the jar.

When the “jurisdiction” thinks s/he knows just how many candy pieces are in the jar, the “authority” announces her decision to the group. This is not consensus or majority vote- that the chief has complete responsibility and makes the decision thinks is best.

5. A minority of group members makes the choice.

The committee meets from the group to choose how many candy bits are from the jar. They announce their choice to the group.