Mining Creativity within your Organization - Serious Play Pro

An interesting blog post from whitelight group insights page about the linkages between LEGO SERIOUS PLAY and creativity.

Creativity is made of thinking, communication, problem solving and technology, and cannot be complete in isolation. Organizations need to stop getting hung up on silos and start collaborating. The human brain is the most complex phenomena in the known universe. There is vast untapped potential in people and we each hold an imagination that is capable of resolving the most serious of issues.

Hold productive meetings 

For everyone’s sanity, throw the 20:80 meetings out the window. These declared 20:80 meetings consist of the leader using 80% of the time talking about what they want to cover, while the remaining 20% is left to discuss everyone else’s matter. This usually results in meetings running over time or rescheduled into a never-ending cycle, which creates anger and stress.

Meetings should be 100:100, referred to as “learning forward” meetings. Everyone commits through involvement and puts their ideas on the table in order to “mine” everything you know collectively. Turn every rock in that room. The goal of each meeting is to have everyone leave saying, “That was a productive use of my time.”

Apply concepts from the Lego Serious Play Method 

The famous Lego brand prides itself on its intricate building models of the tangible world. Playing with Legos stimulates the mind because thinking and building is an effective learning process. Did you know that fidgeting with our hands actually helps us concentrate? Playing with Legos as a group becomes a whole new dynamic, as “you building here, helps me here.” Major organizations such as Shell, Chanel, UBS, Google and NASA use Lego Serious Play for their strategic planning because it eliminates silos that often cause dysfunction within businesses.

The Lego Serious Play Method is a combination of taking subconscious feelings and existing knowledge into consideration to make better decisions. The concept based on research in three areas of development:

  • Play– Play is defined as a limited, structured and voluntary activity that involves the imaginary. It is limited in time and space, structured by rules agreed upon by the players and draws on elements of fantasy and creativity.
  • Constructionism– Based on the idea that learning happens best when people are engaged in constructing a product such as a Lego model, a machine, a computer program or a book. When a team engages in constructionism, you are constantly building onto what you already know.
  • Imagination– The term has been given many different cultural and linguistic meanings. While we all share the ability to “imagine” something, the three core ways we use our imagination are: to describe something, to create something, to challenge something. The relationship between these three types of imagination makes up strategic imagination, which is how companies establish their own strategies.

Former Lego employee and the main architect of the Lego Serious Play methodology Robert Rasmussen spoke at a recent Chicago Executive’s Club meeting. He handed out a small plastic bag of Legos to everyone and said, “Now build a duck.” Some giggling ensued and a minute later we were showing each other our creations. It was incredible to see how much each creation varied from the next, even though we were only given six pieces and a minute.

Rasmussen has spent his career applying experiences and theories about play, learning, creativity and teaching to organizational development. He travels all over the world and delivers the official facilitator training program. He explained that in order for the method to work, you must give up all control. People who are the most skeptical of Lego Serious Play tend to have controlling qualities and are typically referred to as the “expert Lego builders.” Rasmussen went on to say the experience usually changes their mind and allows them to loosen up. An audience member asked if it would be possible to make it work in a virtual environment and he replied, “We’ve tried, it simply doesn’t work. It just proves even further that people need to get together to effectively collaborate.”

Build up Innovation 

The explosion of the Internet of Things has introduced collaboration among “things” such as networks, sensors and devices. When these components are configured to communicate with each other, we are able to gather helpful data from them. We can then apply the data gathered from this high-tech collaboration towards improving business processes and making better decisions in real-time.

The Internet of Things has opened doors we never imagined possible. The combination of technologies work together to make life easier and form better decisions. Creativity and problem-solving skills are vital in this area.

Similar to building Legos, an IoT solution needs all the correct components planned out ahead of time, but also that creative spark to scale and build onto what already exists. Working in collaboration opens opportunities for others to contribute and bring a fresh perspective.


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