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We had originally scheduled a LEGO® Serious Play® (LSP) demo for the Charlottesville Technology group known as the NEON Guild back in January. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and we were hit with the blizzard of 2016 and had to cancel it. There was so much interest that we were asked to reschedule for February. The weather held for us and we were able to have the event as planned.

NEON Guild sessions always start with pizza and beer followed by a group introduction and announcements to get things moving and this one was no different except for the anticipation of playing with LEGOs. Everyone was eager to open their bags and start.

Not knowing how many people would show up I asked fellow facilitators Joan Gammon and Guy Winterbotham to come and help should we get a large crowd. Good plan! We had north of 35 people show up and thanks to Guy (we split an order of 100 exploration kits), I had more than enough LEGO bricks to meet the demand.

Since there were people from many different companies, finding the question we wanted to pose was challenging. With only an hour and a half for the workshop, I’m glad Joan and I worked out our approach in advance. We split them into roughly four equal groups and set them to work. The facilities were challenging due to a wall dividing the groups, but in the end it worked out great with the help of Joan and Guy!

We did the introduction by the book; they built their first tower, and then built their next model from instructions. We had a number of people in the group that had never played with LEGOs before and I can imagine how different their experience would have been if we did not take the time to help them get comfortable. The temptation was to take a short cut in the interest of time but I kept hearing Robert’s voice telling me not to skip the basics and I am a believer!

In the next part we asked them to modify the model to depict the worst qualities of a team member that the group had ever encountered or heard of. Lots of laughing and good-natured fun was followed by a lively session of sharing.

After putting away the exploration kits we then told them to build a model of the best qualities of a team member and had them go shopping in my collection of bricks. It was fun watching them ponder the right set of bricks but it led to a little bit of a time hit.  Joan and Guy solved the problem on their side of the room by dumping three big containers of mixed bricks on the tables and letting them do a free-for-all. That worked out better and will be sure to do that next time.

After building, sharing, and reflecting on some of the interesting metaphors, we had each of the four tables build a shared model of their idea of the ideal team member. Next a few folks told the story of the shared model to their table and then to the group at large.

The timing was challenging to keep things on track, and we found that the different groups were getting out of  synch frequently. All in all they had a great time and got a good taste of the potential for using LSP at their companies.

During the introduction we articulated the goals for the workshop and as the night came to a close we did a group review of them. There was 100% agreement that we exceeded every one of our goals!

The guild’s leadership sent us some of the feedback they received:

“Thank you for organizing last evening’s wonderful session. I enjoyed the Serious LEGO Play so much”

“I enjoyed meeting others and playing with Legos at the LSP activity”

“Best educational workshop I’ve attended so far. And I enjoyed meeting people from the tech world.”

“I had a great time tonight with Serious Lego Play. This is the first event of this type that I’ve attended that felt very relaxed and inviting.”

” I really had a great time tonight.”

We are looking forward to our next scheduled event at the Innovate Richmond Conference in March.

It will be fun!

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