Having used LEGO Serious Play for a number of years and seen its positive effects in the boardroom and training room, I’d like to answer this question of, ‘What is LEGO Serious Play?’ and the next one which is probably, “What can it do for me and my business?”
What is LEGO Serious Play?
LEGO Serious Play is a concept born out of the LEGO company searching for ways to use LEGO in the business world. Research including flow theory by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, children’s learning by Jean Piaget and learning with artifacts by Samuel Papert led LEGO to embrace the concept and set up a company called Executive Discovery to commercialise LEGO Serious Play.
Basically, the concept allows people to freely think and express themselves as they create. We’ve all been in a meeting where two or three people have dominated and others have been silent. What if we could even out the contribution and here from everyone? LEGO Serious Play allows for that. Besides, who wouldn’t want to have a bit of fun in a work setting?
How does a session work?
A facilitator will lead a session with a brief from the client as to required outcomes. People will sit in groups of 6 to 8 and will first be asked to build a couple of models to get them started. Some people will need warming up. Next, the group as individuals will each build a model in response to a request / question from the facilitator. Something like, ‘Build a model that represents an issue we have in our roles”. Each person will then have three or four minutes to use their LEGO bricks to build a model metaphor – something that represents the challenge. It doesn’t matter how creative people are as it’s not about what their model looks like but rather about their own interpretation of the model. It’s amazing how easy it is to share your thinking when you have something concrete in front of you.
Once the models are made, each person in turn shares with the group the story of what they have made. The facilitator helps to ask questions and the group reflects. Can you imagine having a room of 10 people and having 10 unique responses to posed questions like:
- What issues do our customers have in dealing with us?
- What do our customers need most?
- What will our business look like a year from now?
- What strengths do we have as a company?
- …And so on.
It’s been my experience that everyone will get involved and that people overcome any confidence issues of speaking up because they have something concrete in front of them. In fact the three great results include increased confidence from staff members, new insights being uncovered and a greater commitment moving forward as everyone has contributed.
Bart Taylor of IAG remarked in a strategy session for his management team centred around LEGO Serious Play that it was the best strategy day he had ever experienced (Click here for the write up). A recent session with a government department’s leadership team provided a plethora of ideas for three different scenarios that would normally have been limited to only a handful of suggestions.
What could LEGO Serious Play do for me and my business?
The methodology can open up new areas of untapped innovation, help you to problem solve, provide a change management base, aid in building strategy, help unravel customer issues and so much more. Check out one of the introductory sessions here. Most people are a little skeptical to begin with and that’s understandable as this methodology challenges the norm somewhat but give it a few minutes and even the most hardened cynic will get ‘into flow’ and experience some of the most enlightening work based discussions of their lives.
Rapid Results can facilitate LEGO Serious Play sessions for your business and provide facilitator training. Check out the website: http://www.rapidresults.co.nz