Microsoft, Google, Mercedes, Nasa, Unilever, Coca Cola and Pfizer are just some of the major companies that have used the Lego® Serious Play® method to allow individuals to “think with their own hands” and contribute to the development of projects or the organisation itself.
One of the most important goals in HR is the expansion of human capital within an organisation, through the development of both the organisation and the individual and leading to performance improvement.
This is serious business, wouldn’t you say? So, how come that we hear people say building Lego® models in the workplace is a good way to enhance strategic thinking, communication and problem-solving skills within teams and departments?
Well, Lego® Serious Play® was built upon extensive research in business, organisation development, psychology and learning. It enables individuals to “play” together and be more understanding and cooperative while exploring new possibilities and being committed to find a shared solution, aligned with the organisation’s goals.
Hand knowledge, strategic imagination and visual storytelling
Lego® Serious Play® is based on the concept of “hand knowledge” and on the ideas of Seymour Papert, a mathematician, computer scientist, educator and MIT researcher who defended that our learning ability increases significantly when we are engaged in constructing something external to ourselves (a sand castle, a machine, a computer program, etc).
Then some other ingredients are added into the mix: imagination, consisting on one’s ability to describe something, to create something and to challenge something. The combination of these three abilities provides us with strategic imagination and thinking. Lego® Serious Play® also encompasses storytelling, which is essential to company strategic development. Although it is not a new concept, it is proven to be a powerful and effective way to describe past, present and future situations.
In this case, storytelling is done with Lego® models to represent a hypothetical situation, allowing individuals to test what might happen if they make certain decisions, without having to deal with real life consequences.
How it’s done, step by step!
First, the facilitator (who needs to be specifically trained and certified) provides a question that must be clear, yet flexible. Then, all the participants build a 3-D model with the special set of Lego® bricks designed to inspire the use of metaphors and storytelling.
After all the models are completed, every participant shares his model’s meaning and story with the rest of the group, building commitment to shared action.
Lastly, the group reflects on key insights and participants ask each other clarification questions about the presented models. The facilitator then sums up the results of the session. The use of metaphors when building the models allows participants to demonstrate complex ideas that may be difficult to express through words.
With Lego® Serious Play® individuals can truly explore new realities and use their imagination to describe the world in new and challenging ways, breaking down assumptions and beliefs.
The key factors that make it work
The Lego® Serious Play® process really takes participants out of their comfort zones and it does so to promote real change and long-term learning, along with a deep feeling of accomplishment.
It promotes 100% participation, because every participant has to build a model and share the story. This means that, contrary to a traditional scenario, no matter how divergent the stories/answers may be, every participant has to share their thoughts (and can’t shy away). So managers always get an insight of all ideas in the group. Another key factor is openness.
Lego® Serious Play® also encourages individuals to reflect on their models with a positive and constructive attitude. Participants share their model, listen to other’s opinions, analyse the strengths and flaws of their own idea and accept that they might be wrong or that there can be a better solution.
Last but not least, this method requires the utmost respect among participants. Therefore, no one can alter someone else’s model; participants discuss and refer to each model and its metaphor, not the person who built the model, and everyone listens to every story.
This is why Lego® Serious Play® is an innovative and disruptive method of bringing everyone’s ideas to the table when you need to solve current issues or if you want to prevent future situations that your business may have to face. But more than that, this is a way of letting your team members reinvent themselves and the way they work on developing strategies and finding solutions, improving your organisation’s performance on both a small and large scale.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!
Your team here at skeeled