Slightly different from “classic” LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology, Dominic Krimmer (Twitter@dkrimmer84) has written an interesting case study about the combination of LEGO and Scrum tools. Here is his blog post “The LEGO Retrospective”
The LEGO® – Retrospective is a quite nice method I tried out with a team in my current company. The reason why this exercise is so exciting is the fact that team members are joining a totally new creative space where they can try out to express their thoughts on an abstract layer. In this post I’d like to share some experiences about this improvised retrospective.
preparation: 10 minutes
retrospective: 60-90 minutes
What you can expect:
The LEGO® – Retrospective helps teams to dive into another kind of space where the rules of ordinary life are temporarily suspended and replaced with the rules of this game. As almost everybody played with LEGO® in his childhood you can expect a high engagement as adults might love to remember the good old creative time :-)
Object of play the LEGO® – Retrospective:
Most of us are familiar with LEGO® – one of the best known brand toys. This game gives team members an opportunity to express their views on an abstract way. It’s valuable because you are able to create the conditions that will allow unexpected and surprising solutions to emerge.
Suburbs of Rome in Italy are on the front line these days. Violence, riots, anti-immigrant protests, racism accusations. Rome’s experiencing what Paris, London and other capitals have already experienced in the past. In this environments youngsters live hardship, considering that most of them, even with a university degree do not find a job. An institution, the Goethe Institut in Rome, two associations, Italienverein in Dortmund and Corda Aurea in Rome and a Theatre in Rome Teatro di Tor Bella Monaca, consider that there’s a lot of potential in these youngsters which can be untapped just providing the right competences.
Together they are testing a project in Tor Bella Monaca where a group of young people (3 girls and 4 men, ranging from 18 to 30 years old) are acquiring entrepreneurial culture in order to build companies rather than wait for a job which might never come true. The project is organized in a series of workshops, ranging from business modeling, to marketing, from logical framework to diversity management. Yesterday the people of the project attended a four hours’ workshop using the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® materials and methodology. This is a brief note on this unique experience.
Before, just few words on the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology. As the official website of LEGO® states “The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology is an innovative process designed to enhance innovation and business performance. Based on research which shows that this kind of hands-on, minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities, the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology deepens the reflection process and supports an effective dialogue — for everyone in the organization”. Started in corporate environments, workshop using the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® materials and methodology has already moved into social environments, in particular in Mexico where is used extensively by communities, local and federal government. Continue reading →
Learning Services at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) consistently strives to implement teaching and learning practices that are innovative, creative and effective in order to better engage with our dynamic population of students. Over the summer, we began developing a means to introduce Lego Serious Play (LSP) into our academic and library support teaching sessions – including facilitation training, purchasing the necessary kit, and working with academics to capitalise on the opportunity.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, LSP was developed by Lego, primarily for use in business settings to explore team building and group dynamics. Recently, the tool has been adapted for use within library and academic settings for similar purposes. However, Learning Services at UCS have decided to move beyond utilisation with staff and have looked toward investigating implications for using the tool directly with students, focusing on the cognitive links associated with exposure to LSP and skills acquisition related to library and academic services. In other words – if LSP positively influenced staff synergy within the global business sector, what was stopping it from providing a useful means of developing library and other learning skills amongst students?
CBi is the latest iteration of an evolving experiment at CERN in Geneva. The CBi acronym stands for “Challenge Based innovation”, and the experiment pulls in students from several countries and multiple disciplines. The Scimpulse Foundation collaborates with CERN since 2013 and in this occasion we facilitate a concept design workshop.
It’s a sunny September morning in Mayrin, the outskirts of Geneva, right on the side of the ATLAS experiment building there is a new shell enclosure where a bunch of students practice and learn about innovation. Dr. Marco Manca is the coach of the team and he wants to make sure that they come out of the experience with a new mindset. That is where we come into play, literally.
The challenge is to design something that may enable blind people to perceive the surrounding environment; maybe some type of augmented sensory device. We use the LEGO Serious Play* method combined with a bit of acted scenario, getting the group into a divergent thinking flow to co-create solutions beyond what the standard game-storming or design thinking methods may produce.
They call themselves the “Heisenberg” team. Entering the room I can feel the expectation from the group, curiously sitting around an improvised set of tables. I skip any introduction and immediately go on guiding them through the first half hour of rigorous LSP language training.
They fly through the training! From building a tower in 20 seconds, to making a story and using metaphors in a matter of minutes; faster than any group I have seen so far.
After announcing that now we were going to get serious, I pose the first question: – I am going to ask you to go beyond the normal concept of blindness, starting from the opposite side … let’s build the model of:
what is Vision?
In a matter of minutes the models start coming up, It turns out that Vision is not only the capability to “See” with our eyes, but also an enabler, some sort of superpower that drives Decision, Choice, Selection, Trust, and Truth.
Our horizon expanded from the simple definition of “Sight”, to the more meaningful and all-inclusive concept of “Vision”.
From here we can start exploring the user point of view and find possible solutions, but that will require a simulation or a prototype, to have a first-hand experience of what the user may feel when is using a machine that helps hims or her in performing a simple task.
Since the beginning of this year we started working with students from the Faculty of Engineering at a Chilean university, the purpose is to develop their entrepreneurial and innovative capacity by connecting them with creativity. An important part of this program is that they experience things from another perspective, to live new situations in changing scenarios; that they can identify opportunities and translate them into concrete actions, working as a team, to think with their hands, and learn of the own discoveries and another’s.
The first step is to accompany them to get out of the comfort zone and to achieve this we design a practical exercise.
EXERCISE “THE ZONE”
Without giving any information, at the beginning of the class we ask them to be organized in groups of 10 students. Each had to wear blindfolds and accompanied by 5 teammates who cared not have accidents, they had to walk from the door of the University to the classroom without looking.
This is a walk they do every day, but this time we forced them to do without the sense of sight, which would generate a series of reactions and emotions in them. Once they got to the classroom, we invite them to sit at the tables where the Lego pieces were and we asked them to build an Individual Model of them Perceptual Experience, then tell the story of that journey.
The exercise was very significant since students sharpen their senses on both the walk and at the time of building. As never, Models were loaded with emotions. Construction was the heart of the experience. Some were scared or frustrated for not remembering the way, others were disoriented.
Empathy was generated from practical experience, allowing them to connect with the responsibility of being part of a community and also with satisfaction that delivers surpass themselves and achieve the goal.
Finally we reflect on the experience and decided to work, using Design Thinking to design positive experiences for students and disabled members of the University. The prototypes will be built with Lego bricks.
Over the last few weeks, I have been partaking in a series of LEGO Serious Play rapid prototyping design challenges at the Research Institute for the Finnish Economy. The focus was to conceptualize, visualize and manipulate a new approach to designing blended asset investment vehicles. The prototyping application is tied to a 2.5 year project on ‘Financial Innovation for Industrial Renewal‘, financed by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes). The project involves partners from industry centers of excellence, economic development groups and equity investors, with an advisory board that includes European Investment Fund (EIF) and P80 (pension fund) Foundation managers. Our rapid prototyping design team was comprised of equity research analysts, investors, economists, management scientists, industry practitioners, and academics in entrepreneurship. The 4-week process design, comprised of individual builds and challenges, and culminating in team builds, was laid out and facilitated by Sven Adriaens, a high school senior from Pinckney, Michigan (US), an intern seeking to advance his educational interests in design sciences.
Industrial renewal has become a widely used concept at the highest levels of economic policy in the US and Europe. It involves the repositioning of industries, by leveraging and realigning value systems, while integrating innovative companies to ‘turn the ship’. Given the requirement for considerable capital infusions, the European Commission is restructuring fiduciary requirements for pension funds to drive engagement in potentially riskier investment vehicles.
The overall core challenge of the project was how to organize, select and visually represent companies that become part of blended asset investment portfolios comprised of: an index (public), a bundled loan product (SMEs), and equity investment (startups and growth companies) placements. How would such a portfolio be structured and administered? When is a company or a portfolio investable? What are the risks? The new portfolio investment vehicles are targeted at institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies, as well as family offices, thus impacting the risk:return profiles of the product. The spirited discussions around this topic exposed the tension between economists, management scientists and investors, and centered on the (types of) data used for decision-making, and the fundamental (theoretical or case-based) underpinnings that guide the investor and company management team.
Visualizing an investment vehicle and business model with LEGO bricks opened up a query that continues to vex entrepreneurs and investors alike: What are key selection metrics for high value investable companies positioned to drive industrial innovation?
If we consider the research in the field, salient ingredients for entrepreneurial success are often distilled down to: indomitable optimism and enthusiasm of the founder, a game-changing product, leveraging mega-trends or policies, mixed in a cocktail of product and/or market pivots. These ‘potentially observable management inputs and management characteristics’ are, however, insufficient to explain why one venture succeeds and the other fails. Potential, because, for example, recent HBR research showed that companies built by serial entrepreneurs aren’t any more likely to succeed – even if investors consider the ability of past experience in their equity-taking decisions. The residual variables of success are not observable: skill, luck and timing.
There is a significant parallel between these uncertainties, and how economists ascribe differences in company productivity to allocation efficiencies of resources such as capital and labor. The difference is that in microeconomics there are elegant theories that explain how inputs (of mature firms) relate to outputs, presuming that allocation is optimal and aimed at profit maximization. Yet, after accounting for all measurable inputs, often more than 90% of company productivity variability between companies is captured in a ‘multi-factor productivity variable’, which cannot be measured. It is often explained as a measure of technological change in the industry that contributes to the allocation efficiency. Because it is not observable, it can’t be explicitly considered. Economic theory is data-driven, yet the magnitude of the unobservable residual is similar to that which explains entrepreneurial success. In entrepreneurship there is no theoretical underpinning for success – rather our knowledge is based on case studies. Since measures of success derived from cases are difficult to abstract and made generalizable, the development of theories is notoriously challenging.
Going back to the Serious LEGO design challenge then, how do we make portfolio resource allocation and investment decisions for individual companies in the face of unobservable factors for success and productivity?
This series of blogs covers the context of the LEGO Serious Play portfolio design aspects, both at the strategic level of industrial renewal and tactical or operational level describing the analytical engines driving the project. The angles on this problem will represent the expertise and background of the participants, and culminate in a description of the final team build product design. The educational aspects will be addressed from two perspectives. From the student-facilitator’s angle: How can LEGO bricks be used to help the uninitiated teach finance and business models? From the professional participants’ angle – How do LEGO bricks help in the design of new investment vehicles and their management structure?
For more details, including a video on the final team build, please contact:
Peter Adriaens, PhD
Finnish Distinguished Professor, Research Institute for the Finnish Economy (2014-2016), Helsinki, Finland.
Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy, The University of Michigan (Ross School of Business – Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies), Ann Arbor, Michigan (US)
Antti Tahvanainen, PhD
Chief Research Scientist, Research Institute for the Finnish Economy, Helsinki, Finland
Aeroflot is Russia’s national carrier and largest Airline. Founded in 1923, it is among the world’s oldest airlines and one of Russia’s most recognised brands. It’s revenue in 2013 exceeds more, than 4 bln. USD. In short: big business with big numbers often loses big picture. Hence we were contacted to assist them via design thinking on – how to get to key questions and name essential problems.
Wonderfull team organized design thinking session for Aeroflot IT program management office (PMO) to help build PMO structure, identify key roles and re-think its connections with business. LEGO Serious Play approach was used at the stage of prototyping. Bricks helped people to think by their hands, freeing heads and eliminating wicked communication dilemmas.
Through the exercise participants had an opportunity to uncover existing relations between Business and IT, uncover barriers and tensions in management structure. Foreign experts from SAP partner side – Dr. Jurgen Ott and Axel Ferste, who have great experience in managing complex transformation programs, shared their knowledge and gave very useful feedback on the LEGO models.
We also used scribing and visual thinking for improving educational experience of all the participants. As always, we learn a lot from our participants, also trying to share knowledge and our experience from other projects.
We wish Aeroflot a high flight with creative power of its big team uncovered! Come and join: LEGO Serious Play in Russia group on Facebook.
SANTIAGO, CHILE–The World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA) kicked off its 15th World HR Congress here, on October 15.
Organized by the Circulo Ejecutivo de Recursos Humanos of Chile, this biannual international event has become a major draw for global HR leaders, including dozens of CEOs of national HR organizations, like the Society for Human Resource Management’s own Hank Jackson.
The HR Congress commenced with a unique workshop, in which the 1,500 conference attendees, at tables of eight to 10 each, broke into bags of Legos and began testing their creativity. The session, “Building an Identity,” was facilitated by Lego Serious Play consultants Robert Rasmussen and Lucio Margulis, who guided participants through several fun challenges.
The problem with meetings, said Rasmussen, is that people tend to be disengaged—“leaning back.” People are distracted; thinking about what to say or glancing at their phones. The result is lack of participation, insight and interest in the decision-making process.
Instead, the goal at meetings should be to get everyone “leaning forward,” 100 percent engaged and committed to the outcome.
At first, conference attendees were absorbed by building their own Lego towers, then they graduated to constructing free-form abstractions representing what companies would look like in the absence of HR. Finally, they were challenged to create a group model incorporating structures that had been built individually, thereby giving 3-D expression to what HR will look like in the future.