Candy And Decision Making Styles

April 25, 2018

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

Assessing Leadership Decision Making Styles.

That is an activity that I think I adapted many years back from one printed for public use in the Pfeiffer Annuals.

I use peanut M&M’s rather than plain M&M’s candies because I want to count the entire amount of M&M’s necessary to fill the jar. A massive bag might have over 500 pieces of candy!

I shape seven small groups and assign each a different decision making design they will use to gauge just how many M&M’s are in the jar. The team finding the amount closest to the total from the jar will acquire the jar and its contents.


This individual has been told to practice control by such ways as telling the group how to sit while waiting for the choice to be made and how to use their time whether she is deciding.

The leader then estimates the amount of candy bits are from the jar and announces their decision to the group.

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

I appoint the member with the most training in mathematics to be the chief. “pro” then considers the amount of candy bits are in the jar, decided, and announces it to the group.

3. The opinions of the individual members have been averaged.

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

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

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

I appoint one member to be the chief, and calls the meeting to order. The “authority” asks the team to discuss how many candy pieces are from the jar.

If the “authority” thinks s/he understands just how many candy pieces are in the jar, the “authority” declares her decision to the group. This is not consensus or majority vote- that the chief has full responsibility and makes the choice s/he thinks is best.

5. A minority of team members makes the choice.

I appoint an executive committee of 2 members. The committee meets away from the group to decide how many candy pieces are in the jar. They announce their choice to the group.