We were really grateful to join the workshop hosted at Clore to explore both our own leadership techniques and learn some broad structures of futures thinking and projecting. Lego Serious Play is based on three premises: play, constructionism and imagination.
Through a series of both individual and group exercises (all involving various lego people, bricks, animals, weapons), we imagined dictators, our future selves, external driving forces, and even what the future for social entrepreneurship would look like with “Openness to financial innovations and unlimited length of time horizon.” (see below!)
One of the things I found most fascinating was that although at the beginning of an exercise you may have no idea how to answer the question (“You have 10 minutes to illustrate where you want to be in 2020.” Ten Minutes!), through the process of starting to build and use the Lego, it became easier to articulate and develop meanings and symbolism. A tiny addition to your Lego board could mean something huge to you- and it was the other participants’ role to unpick and ask questions behind the meaning of what you illustrated. Continue reading →
LEGO Serious Play is a way of using LEGO bricks to express feelings and ideas. It is used by adults (mostly), to collaborate and discuss relationships and concepts. The building is done in metaphors – which might sound odd at first, but our research shows that almost anyone can pick it up. The process offers a unique and powerful way for people to exchange ideas.
I have a long-standing interest in the idea that, if you give people the opportunity to be creative and make things, they can often communicate more fully and more thoughtfully than they might do just through talking. For this reason I worked with the LEGO Group on LEGO Serious Play from 2005, and ended up co-writing the ‘open source’ release of LEGO Serious Play, launched in 2010. I’ve used it for a few things over the years. My book Creative Explorations (2007) explains its use as a social-science research method. I’m interested in it as a ‘tool for thinking’ (see, for instance, this blog post). And recently I developed a workshop for PhD students which supports participants to both share feelings and develop ideas about the PhD process.
One of the key clever things about LEGO Serious Play is that through externalising feelings and knowledge – by building them in LEGO – then everyone in a group gets a voice, because everybody builds and everybody talks about what they have built; and then also you get the opportunity – because you can literally see it, touch it and change it – to review everyone’s perceptions, and collaborate to make them fit together in a coherent and meaningful way.
So, apparently Lego Serious Play (LSP) is an actual thing. I signed up to this workshop mainly because it had lego in the title, and then I was quite surprised with my experience.
LSP was developed by the Lego company as a way to create a new market for lego. It is a process that was designed for the corporate and business environment to “enhance innovation and business performance.” But the principles can be applied to wide range of situations. This workshop being an example. Usually when you play with lego, its very literal, you build a house, a car etc. So the first step was to change the way we play, moving from literal construction to metaphorical construction. So we started out with a few warm-up exercises to get us used to playing with our pile of lego in a more abstract, less literal way.
The point of this workshop was to understand ‘stuckness’. Being stuck is something that designers, creatives, and pretty much all people experience at some point, and there are a whole range of reasons people can get stuck: stress, fear, lack of knowledge, and each person has their own personal reasons, to do with how we each work and learn.
The next exercise was to build a model which describes us as creatives, our process, our positives and our negatives: the reasons we get stuck. After a short while we went round the room and each person described their model. It was incredible, when building these models, you invest meaning into each block, and in putting them together, you construct a complete image of yourself, out of lego.. (I know, sounds crazy right). Continue reading →
A Central Otago waste manger is proving lego isn’t just for children. Glenys Byrne, general manager of Central Otago WasteBusters, held a Lego Serious Play (LSP) workshop earlier this month with a group of people from WasteBusters and the Central Otago District Council, including councillor Clair Higginson and Bernie Scurr from health and safety.
Byrne said she was one of only a few facilitators nationwide trained to hold the LSP workshop, which was designed to enhance business performance through building with lego bricks. LSP had been used by organisations such as Nasa and Coca-Cola, she said.
“The bricks allow people to think freely, and express themselves as they create, the process is not reliant on the typical verbal jousting that goes on in meetings, or filling up a blank page, instead, participants use a carefully chosen selection of bricks and a unique process where people ‘think through their fingers’ – unleashing insight, inspiration and imagination.”
There was a bit of head-scratching around the table when the group was asked to create something out of lego bricks to reflect a sustainable future in Central Otago. However, with only five minutes to complete the task, the participants quickly starting building wind turbines, vegetable gardens, electric cars, solar-powered homes and wind operated irrigation systems.
Higginson said the workshop was insightful and challenged them to use their own creativity, work in pairs and then share their visions as a group: “I found the hands-on part of it helped get over anxieties we may have had in speaking up in the group.” Scurr said the exercise reinforced how different everyone was and how differently everyone thought.
ASU undergraduates have the opportunity to enroll in a challenging course this fall, designed to re-introduce the act of play as a problem-solving technique. The course is offered as part of the larger project, Cross-disciplinary Education in Social and Ethical Aspects of Nanotechnology, which received nearly $200,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Nano Undergraduate Education program.
Engineering professor Candace Chan, a nanoscientist, checks in with undergraduate students Ruben Hernandez (aeronautics major) and Dylan Baker (mechanical engineering major) as they work on their LEGO models during a Feb. 24 pilot workshop.
The project is the brainchild of Camilla Nørgaard Jensen, a doctoral scholar in the ASU Herberger Institute’s design, environment and the arts doctoral program. Participants will use an approach called LEGO Serious Play to solve what Jensen calls “nano-conundrums” – ethical dilemmas arising in the field of nanotechnology.
SAP is one of the world-leading corporations in system integration. But the one distinctive feature makes it a real leader in its field. For more than 30 years they promote and use design thinking as an approach to innovation development. Creative intelligence and design thinking are already parts of SAP innovation culture in many countries where it operates.
For the SAP CEP education initiative for Russia and CIS biggest clients, SAP approached Wonderfull lab to make experimental exercises with Lego Serious Play methodology.
Members of the North America Strategicplay® Group were on-site in New York City for the United Nations Leadership Summit. You may have already heard that LEGO® presented the United Nations with a large LEGO® UN Model to thank the UN Secretary-General for his work in the area of education for children. It was wonderful to see Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, representing the LEGO® Group, present the model to Ban Ki-moon, who placed the final brick with the UN flag onto the model. Huge excitement surrounded this moment!
It was a big honour to attend and to have the opportunity to facilitate using LEGO®’s methodology and materials. Four members of our team joined the LEGO® Foundation Team to facilitate at the education fair. The discussion revolved around the serious issues of Human Rights, Education for Children, and Caring for the Environment. Global leaders who attended built their ideas and added them to a large shared model of these United Nations focus topics.
Hasn’t everyone played with Legos at some point? Well, the answer to that is no … of course. But it surprises me when I pull out lego bricks in my classroom and boys say they haven’t. I know, that’s sexist, but it still surprises me. I also am pleasantly surprised when girls say things like, “I LOVE Legos!” I know that’s sexist, but I do hope the fact I am using them with both genders will help kids not do as I do when they get older.
About 10 years ago, I was trained as a Lego Serious Play facilitator. What that means is I got to play with Lego figures and bricks as an expert led a bunch of us through some play work that really heightened our own sense of what it is we were thinking and feeling, and we discovered many things about ourselves, our teams, our beliefs and our questions. It’s an amazing process, and one I use periodically in my classroom. It’s one of those tools that just scaffolds some kids to talk and share things they otherwise might not have…but the fact that they are talking through metaphors or some model, or something they build, they more openly share their thinking. They are thinking while building, and sometimes their hands take over the thinking–and build a connection that might not have been conscious at the time of building.
So, as part of the application to become certified as a National Board Certified teacher, I used that technique when I was videotaping myself. I was targeting one child for my analysis, but the other one garnered my attention when something she said went against everything I thought I knew about this kid! Turns out there is a side of this incredibly confident, happy-go-lucky, talented, smart kid that is not so confident or happy-go-lucky. I had no clue, and would probably never have found out had I not used a non-traditional tool/task with her. Now, I’m trying to figure out how to help others see what I know, so we can provide the support this kid needs to flourish and grow.
BUT, one of the cool parts of being videotaped, is that right after the lesson, I sat down with the person running the camera and asked for feedback, what I could have done differently, how she saw the lesson and responses, and I got immediate questions to reflect upon, comments to think about and some criticism and kudos to consider. Good teachers seek that feedback…and know it needs to be specific to be helpful. Lego Serious Play provides that feedback immediately and it also opens up whole other avenues of thinking to go down. Every teacher needs to experience it–and use it.
Network of Professional Lego Serious Play Facilitators