About Copyrights and the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY Community Model

It is very encouraging to see the strong increase in the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® experience exchange on this site. This increased awareness has also lead to an increased interest in offering facilitator training programs – and also some issues:

A: Many people interested in learning more about the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY method have expressed confusion and frustration, when trying to figure out the difference between the different facilitator training options. Questions like: “Is there an official LEGO endorsed program? “What is the difference between program x and program y”? “Why are some programs longer/shorter than others?” etc.

B: Parallel with this confusion there is also a practice developing that appears to take for granted that everything that is public about the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology is also open and free for everyone to use as they want. This is not the case. As an example a significant part of the method described in our book “Building a Better Business Using the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY Method” is copyrighted and cannot be used for commercial purposes without having accepted our Terms of Use Agreement as part of completing our facilitator training.

The purpose of this post is to explain the simple facts related to  issues A and B.

The historical background.
From 2002 till 2009 LSP was distributed by the LEGO Group through a non-exclusive general partner model. Only partners with a distribution contract could purchase the special LEGO SERIOUS PLAY products. From 2008 – 2010 the LEGO Group explored several initiatives incl. establishing a training board with a select group of official trainers and a lead partner model. None of these initiatives were formalized and ultimately dropped entirely, when the LEGO Group in 2010 decided to use a Community Distribution Model and make the below mentioned intellectual property available under a Creative Commons license;

  1. The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® basic principles and philosophy, upon which everything else is built;
  2. The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® materials – sets of specially selected LEGO bricks and pieces;
  3. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® ‘applications’ – detailed roadmaps of different workshops which make use of the principles and philosophy, and the materials.

The Creative Commons License includes the following intellectual property:

Re. 1. This refers to the use of building metaphors with LEGO bricks and the beliefs underpinning LEGO SERIOUS PLAY, and three basic phases of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® process, which are described as;
Phase 1: The Challenge: The facilitator poses the building challenge to the participants.
Phase 2: Building: The participants build a LEGO model representing their reflections on the building challenge.
Phase 3: Sharing: The participants share the meaning and the story that they have assigned to their own models.

Re.2. The products available via www.lego.com/shop

Re.3. The detailed roadmaps for: Real Time Strategy for the Enterprise, Real Time Strategy for the Team, Real Time Identity for You

What does this mean for today’s situation regarding the issues A and listed above?

When you are looking for a facilitator-training program the fact today is:

  • there are no LEGO Group officially appointed LEGO SERIOUS PLAY master trainers or trainer of facilitators
  • there are no LEGO SERIOUS PLAY Training Board or Advisory Boards
  • there are no LEGO SERIOUS PLAY partners with a formal or special status or relationship with the LEGO Group

The reality is that anyone can “claim” they are qualified to deliver facilitator training in the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY method as long as the content they deliver is included in the LEGO Group’s Creative Commons License as described above.

Those of you who know LEGO SERIOUS PLAY already or have read our book, will immediately notice that two essential methodology concepts – the 4 steps Core Process and the 7 Application Techniques – are NOT included the LEGO Group’s Creative Commons License. The reason is that Robert developed those concepts after he left the LEGO Group and they are therefore his copyright. These two concepts were then included and defined further in our facilitator manuals and subsequently in our book. Further to this, the rights have later been signed over to the Association of Master Trainers.

The consequence is that facilitator-training programs that offer these two concepts as part of their facilitator training programs are violating a copyright unless the training is offered by a member of the Association of Master Trainers. We refer to ourselves as master trainers in the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY method, not because we have been appointed by the LEGO Group, but because we historically developed the training programs and for a period of 10 years until 2010 ran all the facilitator training programs on behalf of the LEGO Group. The other trainer of facilitators currently belonging to the Association of Master Trainers are Lucio Margulis, Jean Semo, Marie Dupont.

Per Kristiansen and Robert Rasmussen

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