Master Thesis: Let It Click with the Brick

December 30, 2017 in Serious Play Library

Julia Trebbin has defended her master thesis at Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht Berlin on “Let It Click with the Brick – Gaining Insights Through LEGO SERIOUS PLAY as a Brand Research Tool”

The abstract of the thesis is: The thesis at hand has the aim to find out if the management method LEGO SERIOUS PLAY (LSP) is applicable for brand research. Secondary literature is reviewed to detect current applications of the method in marketing and branding. Additionally, LSP facilitators are interviewed as experts to investigate the potential of the method for application in marketing and brand research, as well as identifying success factors of the method. Moreover, workshops are performed examining two variations of LSP using different bricks, as well as the comparison method Free Expression Drawing (FED) to find out if brand associations can be created to determine the brand image of a company. The thesis starts with defining the terms brand research, brand research tools, and LSP and continues with a description of the methodology and course of investigation. The results of the literature review and the expert interviews are illustrated showing current applications of LSP in marketing and brand research. Furthermore, a scoring model is introduced to evaluate the suitability of LSP for brand research combining the key findings of the workshops and additional factors. In the discussion the results are interpreted, limitations of the conducted research are illustrated and implications for further research are given. The conclusion of the conducted research is that LSP is suitable to investigate the brand image of a company but the drawbacks of the method need to be considered.

You may download the full text of her dissertation either via the university library homepage or by clicking here: Trebbin,Julia_MA_2016

SeriousPlayPro Academy – Summary of the 1st Day

July 10, 2017 in SeriousPlayPro Academy

Today we started with the first SeriousPlayPro Academy in Tallinn, Estonia. The Academy is targeted towards university students. It will last for 1 month and will consist of:

  • In-depth training on LEGO Serious Play methodology and materials
  • Discussion with some community members – classes and interviews
  • Crafting new ideas on how to improve SeriousPlayPro community and updated value proposition of the community
  • Focusing on the “Next Generation”. Making LEGO Serious Play methodology easily accessible to younger people.

The first day started with basic LEGO Serious Play methodology skills building. Two participants – Merilyn Ohtla and Karen Künnapas did some traditional practice of LEGO Serious Play methodology training. This included technical building skills, ability to use colourful metaphors while representing the models and finally telling comprehensive stories with the help of just few bricks.

Once the skills building was done and over with, the participants also practiced the skills to facilitate the exercises of others. They built the future of education. They decided to discuss the opportunities how to improve teaching methodologies.

In the content side of LEGO Serious Play training, they decided to focus on building individual models and thereafter a shared model about the current situation of a secondary school. Finally, they built the shared model and Vision 2020 of the future of education. Before the wrap-up of the day, Merilyn and Karen concluded by also adding various stakeholders of the school to the landscape.

The thoughts of the participants from the first day of Academy:

“I remember mostly three things. First of all it was like jumping into the water at a location we did not know. Second was seriousness of this whole day – we did some serious in-depth work. And ultimately, we had fun and we laughed, too. It was certainly going out of the comfort zone, except for taking a critical look at how to improve our school. “
– Merilyn Ohtla

“I started experiencing and understanding how thinking works differently when you use your hands. It was fun that while we might be different, we still managed to discuss about our school in a similar manner. During building our shared model we had similar ideas where we complemented each other. It felt as if we managed to solve the problems of our school in just 2 minutes that the others have not managed to do within 20 years. It was also a stretch task to tell our stories to video.”
– Karen Künnapas

See below the videos and the photo gallery. During the next days we will keep a blog of SeriousPlayPro Academy.

Video of the landscape of School Vision

Video of the stakeholders

Photo gallery

Inside The LEGO House

June 5, 2017 in About Lego

LEGO is about to complete a their new unique, creative and imaginative LEGO House in Billund, Denmark. Read more about the background of the building, its philosophy here from the dedicated site of the LEGO House. On the website of the LEGO House you can find information about the architecture, progress of its building, interviews with LEGO people who tell you the story behind the scenes.

I found that Beyond the Brick today published a walkthrough video. Below you can also find a photo gallery of this amazing building. Enjoy.

This article was published in Brickset by Huw Millington. It presented the first impressions of the newly built LEGO House in Billund.

Last week’s LEGO Fan Media days in Billund were held in the LEGO House in the centre of Billund. Apparently, it was the first such use of the building, coming just two weeks after it ceased to be a ‘building site’ requiring hard hats and protective gear to access it.

After a presentation by Jesper Vilstrup, General Manager of the LEGO House and Stuart Harris, Senior Experience Designer, in which details of the flagship models were revealed for the first time, we were taken on a guided tour to see progress for ourselves.

Many of the installations are taking shape so we were able to get a good impression of what the interior will be like once it’s completed. It’s still very unfinished, though, and there appears to be a lot of work to do before it officially opens at the end of September. However, Jesper assured me that a lot of people are working on it and it would be completed on time.

View pictures of historical display in the basement, the tree in the staircase and the World Explorer display, and find out what the showcase models in the masterpiece gallery will be, after the break…

The LEGO House, designed by Bjarke Ingels, was unveiled in 2013. It was originally set to open in 2016 but the technical challenges of the pillar-less design have resulted in a year’s delay and three times the amount of steel used in the framework.

The building itself is now largely complete although its surroundings are still a very much a building site which is causing much disruption to the centre of Billund.

This model, one of many at different scales that were in the atrium, shows what it’ll look like when finished. If I had positioned my camera on the the front left corner of the table it would have been at the corresponding position to when I took the one above.

During the tour we ascended to the top, up the side of the orange ‘stairs’ shown in this picture of another model of the building.

The top has eight ‘studs’ each with a glass pane. Here Ambrush from Bricks StackExchange, Stuart and Jesper test the strength of one while James from Jedi News looks on.

The atrium

The reason for the construction delay was to enable the ground floor to be pillar-less, and the result is a huge atrium area which is light and airy. The camera does not do it justice. The floor is constructed from solid wood blocks. Our meeting room was just about the only part of the building that was complete.

The basement

The basement houses a museum that tells the story of the company and its products. It was largely complete and we got a good impression of what it’ll be like, although not enough time to examine it all closely. Here are some of the earliest pieces on display.

Items from the 1970s… …and the 2000s. Someone noted on Twitter where I first posted these photos that the masks on the blue and green Bionicle figures were not right! The displays are arranged around the sides of a square area. In the middle there’s an inner room, still under construction, that will showcase hundreds of iconic sets, built and displayed with their boxes.

The tree

The centrepiece of the house, and the largest model in it with some 6.3 million pieces, is a tree that rises from the ground floor to the very top. It might sound slightly boring from that description but it’s a stunning piece of work full of detail as you will see below. The trunk has LEGO icons and graffiti such as Kjeld ‘carved; into it. As you descend the stairs and look down you see that on top of many of the branches there are dioramas depicting LEGO’s classic themes: City… Friends… Space… Apparently LEGO had to resort to buying some of the sets on the secondary market! Looking down you can see the exquisite detail of the leaves. The top of the tree is finished off with a crane and construction site, signifying that the LEGO story is not over, that the company is still growing and there is more to come. It’s a stunning model but a devil to keep clean I suspect, and I wonder what effect the UV from the windows above will have on it all…

Brick waterfall

This picture shows how many of the fixtures and fittings are designed to look like they are built out of giant LEGO pieces.

World Explorer

What could an AFOL build if they had an unlimited number of bricks and time? This huge World Explorer display, apparently!

This minifig scale model is in three clusters, a city and seaport… …a mountainous area complete with castle and snow peaks, and a island with beach and funfair, which you’ll see below. The models will eventually have Perspex panels around them to protect them from little fingers. Virtually every model is illuminated and I suspect it looks stunning in the dark. There’s motion, too, but that was not functioning. The castle on the hill… Cafe Corner takes centre place in the city cluster, one of several ‘off the shelf’ models in the displays. Caves in the mountainside… Dock building… Here’s part of the third cluster depicting a beach and Fabuland funfair. Note the Ferris Wheel which has only been slightly adapted from the original set. Why is the right side constructed from Duplo? Because walking that way takes you to the Duplo area of the building… You’ll find more photos, taken by Andres, at Zusammengebaut.


How Lego clicked: the super brand that reinvented itself

June 4, 2017 in About Lego

This article appeared earlier today in the Observer section of the Guardian.

From its founding in 1932 until 1998, Lego had never posted a loss. By 2003 it was in big trouble. Sales were down 30% year-on-year and it was $800m in debt. An internal report revealed it hadn’t added anything of value to its portfolio for a decade.

Consultants hurried to Lego’s Danish HQ. They advised diversification. The brick had been around since the 1950s, they said, it was obsolete. Lego should look to Mattel, home to Fisher-Price, Barbie, Hot Wheels and Matchbox toys, a company whose portfolio was broad and varied. Lego took their advice: in doing so it almost went bust. It introduced jewellery for girls. There were Lego clothes. It opened theme parks that cost £125m to build and lost £25m in their first year. It built its own video games company from scratch, the largest installation of Silicon Graphics supercomputers in northern Europe, despite having no experience in the field. Lego’s toys still sold, particularly tie-ins, like their Star Wars and Harry Potter-themed kits. But only if there was a movie out that year. Otherwise they sat on shelves.

“We are on a burning platform,” Lego’s CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp told colleagues. “We’re running out of cash… [and] likely won’t survive”

In 2015, the still privately owned, family controlled Lego Group overtook Ferrari to become the world’s most powerful brand. It announced profits of £660m, making it the number one toy company in Europe and Asia, and number three in North America, where sales topped $1bn for the first time. From 2008 to 2010 its profits quadrupled, outstripping Apple’s. Indeed, it has been called the Apple of toys: a profit-generating, design-driven miracle built around premium, intuitive, covetable hardware that fans can’t get enough of. Last year Lego sold 75bn bricks. Lego people – “Minifigures” – the 4cm-tall yellow characters with dotty eyes, permanent grins, hooks for hands and pegs for legs – outnumber humans. The British Toy Retailers Association voted Lego the toy of the century.

Brick by brick: inside the Lego offices in Billund, Denmark. Photograph: Redux/Eyevine

When The Lego Movie came out in 2014 the film snob website Rotten Tomatoes awarded it a 96% approval rating: only Oscar nominees 12 Years a Slave and Gravity matched it. This year’s follow-up, The Lego Batman Movie, outperformed the last “proper” Batman movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, to such a degree that DC Comics now faces a genuine problem: audiences overwhelmingly prefer the Dark Knight in his pompous and plastic version voiced by Will Arnett, rather than Ben Affleck’s portrayal.

Lego’s revival has been called the greatest turnaround in corporate history. A book devoted to the subject, David Robertson’s Brick by Brick: How Lego Rewrote the Rules of Innovation, has become a set business text. Sony, Adidas and Boeing are said to refer to it. Google now uses Lego bricks to help its employees innovate.

Lego’s saviour is the aforementioned Vig Knudstorp – a father of four, perhaps not uncoincidentally – who arrived from management consultants McKinsey & Company in 2001 and was promoted to boss within three years, aged 36. “In some ways, I think he’s a better model for innovation than Steve Jobs,” Robertson has said.

A model of the new Lego House in red, yellow, green and blue

Last month I flew to Billund, a small town in the Jutland peninsula where Lego was founded. The landscape was flat and grey, but as I drove from the airport a large primary coloured arm or head would occasionally appear though the pine trees: the Lego Group owns several buildings here and has decorated the landscape accordingly. I was immediately in a good mood.

Boys are more about good versus evil, but girls really see them-selves through the Mini-doll

“Billund was built to function, not to please,” explained Roar Trangbaek, Lego’s cheerful, bearded publicist. “There’s not a lot of fun here.” He meant there wasn’t a lot to do there – it’s hard to imagine the nightlife is up to much – but given that 120m Lego bricks are manufactured here every day, fun was very much the point of the place. As if to prove it, Trangbaek handed me his business card. It was a Minifigure of himself.

The following morning the Lego Group was due to announce its latest annual results. Today was an opportunity to meet some of its key employees, tour the factory and be among the first to step inside Lego House – a 130,000sq ft marvel that will open in September, and is expected to draw 250,000 visitors a year. It has been designed by Bjarke Ingels, the hottest name in architecture right now, whose commissions include Google’s HQ, the new World Trade Center and last year’s Serpentine Pavilion. Ingels certainly seems to have enjoyed himself: Lego House resembles 21 giant Lego bricks stacked into a 30m tower. Visitors can climb up to the rooftop garden and down the other side, pausing to take in attractions, restaurants, play zones and a gallery dedicated to fan-made Lego extravaganzas. Life-sized Lego sculptures had been placed around the interior – a cop, a firefighter – while real-life construction workers in hi-vis tabards beavered away around them, a surreal sight.

Toy story: CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp’s Minifigure. Photograph: Camera Press

Lego had compensated for the disruption to the town’s shops by allowing them to exclusively sell Lego kits of the Lego House, the only place in the world they’ll be available. (For Lego’s numerous cult fans, this is a massive deal.)

Vig Knudstorp rescued Lego by methodically rebuilding it, brick by brick. He dumped things it had no expertise in – the Legoland parks are now owned by the British company Merlin Entertainments, for example. He slashed the inventory, halving the number of individual pieces Lego produces from 13,000 to 6,500. (Brick colours had somehow expanded from the original bright yellow, red and blue, sourced from Piet Mondrian, to more than 50.) He also encouraged interaction with Lego’s fans, something previously considered verboten. Far from killing off Lego, the internet has played a vital role in allowing fans to share their creations and promote events like Brickworld, adult Lego fan conventions. A year before James Surowiecki’s landmark book The Wisdom of Crowds was published, Lego launched its own crowdsourcing competition: originators of winning ideas get 1% of their product’s net sales, designs that so far include the Back to the Future DeLorean time machine, the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and a set of female Nasa scientists.

“Lego has this incredible ability to engage with people and that has single-handedly enabled it to weather very, very difficult seas,” says Simon Cotterrell, from brand analytics firm Interbrand. “What’s made them successful over the past 10 years is their ability to create new entities, movies, TV shows, by partnering with brilliant people. They’ve said: ‘We might not make as much money if we outsource it, but the product will be better.’ That mentality is very Danish. It comes from saying: ‘We’re engineers. We know what we’re good at. Let’s stick to our knitting.’ That’s a very brave thing to do and it’s where a lot of companies go wrong. They don’t understand that sometimes it’s better to let go than to hang on.”

It also started making hit toys again. As well as putting a focus back on classic Lego lines like City and Space, it has launched the ninja-themed Ninjago line, Mindstorms, kits that allow you to build programmable Lego robots, aimed at teens. And for grown-up kids, Lego Architecture, replicas of the Guggenheim, Burj Khalifa and Robie House, that last one not for the feint-hearted or time-poor – it contains 2,276 bricks. Most impressively for a company with a customer base that in 2011 was 90% boys, it finally cracked the girls’ market. Lego Friends features a reconfigured “Mini-doll” and centres on five characters in the fictional Heartlake City. None of this has happened by chance. Lego is said to conduct the largest ethnographic study of children in the world.

Go figure: Batman, from the Lego film. Photograph: Warner Bros. Pictures/AP

“We call it ‘camping with consumers’,” says Anne Flemmert Jensen, senior director of its Global Insights group. “My team spends all our time travelling around the world, talking to kids and their families and participating in their daily lives.” This includes watching how kids play on their own and with friends, how siblings interact and why some toys remain perennial favourites while others are relegated to the toy box. Children are fickle – as the makers of forgotten “must-have” Christmas toys, like Pogs and Furby, will concede.

Ninjago was crowdsourced: its first iteration featured skeletons as enemies because tests proved they were the most popular baddies among six-year-old boys, globally. “Ninjas crystallised themselves because we were, like: ‘What’s the greatest hero entry point?’” says Cerim Manovi, senior design manager and creative lead on the line. “We showed them superheroes, everything – but ninjas just grabbed kids right there.”

Lego Friends took four years of research (plus a $40m global marketing push) to get right.

“One of the main things was they couldn’t really relate to the Minifigure,” says Mauricio Affonso, Friends’ model designer. “It’s too blocky. Boys tend to be a lot more about good versus evil, whereas girls really see themselves through the Mini-doll. They wanted a greater level of detail, proportions and realism.”

Lego Friends sets (bakery, amusement park, riding camp, etc) tend to feature something else missing from boys’ sets: a loo. The boys don’t care, the girls’ pragmatism demanded it.

Girl guides: designing the Lego Friends dolls. Photograph: Niels Aage Skovbo

Roar Trangbaek shows me the original Lego house, where the company’s founder Ole Kirk Christiansen lived. It’s now a private museum that tells the Lego chronology through artefacts, packaging and toys. More than one adult visitor has been known to burst into tears when confronted by a key line from their childhood: in my case the Space Lego of the mid-1970s. (Lego gets inundated with requests for re-releases, but they won’t do it. Their focus is the kids of now and tomorrow, not yesterday.) Christiansen was an expert carpenter when the Great Depression hit. He figured the one thing people would always find money for was toys for their children. His company motto is carved into a plaque here – “det bedste er ikke for godt” (Only the best is good enough) – something borne out when Christiansen’s son Godtfred returned home one day to proudly inform dad he’d saved them some cash by only applying two of the usual three coats of varnish to a wooden duck. He got a tongue- lashing for his trouble.

“It is a good story, but it’s also a true story,” says Trangbaek.

Lego Life is a social network for kids too young for Instagram to share their creations, gaining ‘likes’

In 1946, against everyone’s advice, the family invested in a newfangled plastic-injection moulding machine. Later they adapted Croydon-based inventor Hilary Fisher Page’s self-locking bricks (billed his “sensible toy”) – plastic cubes with two rows of four studs to enable stacking. The final part of Lego’s success clicked into place in 1958 when it created its “system”. Where previously they’d made toys of all shapes and sizes now every brick fitted with every other: everything was backwards compatible. “We’ve got the bricks, you’ve got the ideas,” advised a 1992 Lego catalogue. A mathematician recently deduced that just six eight-stud bricks of the same colour could be combined 915,103,765 ways.

During the factory tour we saw some of those bricks being created. Here, 768 moulding machines work 24/7, 361 days of the year. There was a constant hiss: the sound of raw granulate being fed into the vast machines. Then something akin to Wonka magic, brightly coloured pieces of joy materialising at the other end. Lego’s quality control and precision is rigorous. As any parent who’s trodden on a piece knows, Lego is hard. The bricks have to be strong enough to hold together, but not so strong they can’t easily be pulled apart by a child. They call it “clutch power”. It is a huge industrial process, with similar plants in Hungary, China and Mexico. “Our idea is to have factories located close to key markets,” Trangbaek explained. Most companies make product where it’s cheapest then ship it. Not Lego. “It’s much more costly for us to lose a sale,” he said. “If you go to a toy store and you don’t find the product there on the shelf, you will be disappointed. But you will also not leave the shop without another toy.”

Teen dream: the Mindstorm robot.

Lego is increasingly concentrating on bridging the physical and the virtual. This year it rolled out Lego Life, a social network for kids too young for Instagram to share their creations, gaining “likes” from peers and Lego characters alike. “Lego Batman can comment in character. ‘That’s awesome – would have been better in black and yellow,’” says Dieter Carstensen, head of digital child safety and the Lego Life team.“That kind of stuff.” There’s also Nexo Knights, a video game where powers are unlocked by scanning Lego pieces. They’re researching VR and AR. “Some of the things we’re looking at are very near to being feasible now,” says William Thorogood, an irrepressibly bouncy Brit, and the senior innovation director with Lego’s creative play lab. “Other things are very exciting, but probably not feasible for 10 years, depending on how mature the tech becomes.” Later this year we can look forward to The Lego Ninjago Movie, whose tone looks every bit as irreverently daft as its predecessors.

The next morning in Billund, Lego announced the highest revenues in its 85-year-history. Since December the company has been run by another Brit, Bali Padda, the first non-Dane in charge, after Vig Knudstorp moved into a new role to expand the brand globally. Asia, with its booming middle class, is a focus.

Block party: Lego’s production plant in Billund. It makes 120m bricks a day. Photograph: Redux/Eyevine

“The reality is that the last few years the growth has been supernatural,” Julia Goldin, Lego’s chief marketing officer, tells me. “When you look at the proportion of revenue that’s coming out of the mature markets it becomes more and more challenging with the level of penetration. But we look at every year starting at zero because you have to recruit every child again and make the brand exciting for them. That becomes a good challenge, of course.”
Earlier I had met Bo Stjerne Thomsen, the director of research and learning with the Lego Foundation, an independent body that owns 25% of the Lego Group and studies early childhood development through play. (It has partnered with Unicef in South Africa, and funded the world’s first professor of play, at Cambridge University)

Thomsen produced two plastic bags containing a few red and yellow bricks, part of a basic kit they use to engage learning.

“Quickly build a duck,” he instructed me. “Everybody can usually do it in 40 seconds.”

We set to work. Thomsen’s duck had two outstretched wings. Mine had a red bill, a red slab for feet and a yellow block for a tail.

“Oh, that’s fun!” he said. “I like that.”

There was no wrong or right duck, of course. That was the point. “It’s about the process of making and investigating and learning,” Thomsen said.

“How fast do you think anyone can do a duck?” Thomsen asked.

I’m not sure, I said. Ten seconds?

“Ten seconds? OK, let me count.”

Then he slammed another set of pieces straight down on to the table.

“That’s my duck!” he beamed. “I just sliced it up so it’s ready for the oven. Ha ha!”

Lego is a serious business. It just happens to be in the business of fun.

Interview: LEGO Group CEO Bali Padda on where the toymaker is going next

June 2, 2017 in About Lego

LEGO Group’s new CEO, Bali Padda, talks challenges, opportunities and where he plans to take the toymaker next – article by Robert Anderson from Gulf Business.

You took the LEGO reins at the start of the year, did you enter the role with some specific goals in mind?

“There is no doubt in my mind that the strategy is the right strategy for the group. So I have no intention of changing that. We want to inspire and develop children – we want to do that by bringing creative experiences to all children all over the world. This ambition resonates so much with me, because I fully believe in the strength of our products and brand.

“What I plan to bring to the table as CEO is a focus on how we – in order to deliver on the strategy – ensure that our organisation is agile and that we can act with a higher speed than today.”

Is it difficult to follow in the footsteps of Jorgen Vig Knudstorp after a 12-year period in which he turned around the company’s fortunes, and do you expect to continue with the strategy that brought him success?

“As mentioned, the strategy remains unchanged, and personally the role of CEO is still something that I am settling into. I love the brand and the purpose we serve, and it is a deep passion of mine to continue to reach even more children with experiences. On my own merits, I have been part of this company for 14 years, and during that time I have been in close contact with all aspects of the company because our operational capabilities work closely together with the creative teams in product development. So I have a broad experience and insights in all corners of the company.”

The company reported record revenue in 2016 but you noted sales growth was slowing, particularly in the second half. Is this a sign that the recent boom years are coming to an end?

“For the past many years we have seen supernatural growth. It has been exciting but also unsustainable in the long term. What we are seeing now is a return to more sustainable growth rates and that is also what we expect in future.”

You recently opened a factory in China. How important do you consider the country and the wider Asia and Middle East for your future growth?

“Asia is very important to the group – in particular China has a huge potential, and we continue to see strong growth. The factory in China, which was officially opened in November 2016, will enable us to bring products to even more children across Asia in future. It is however equally important for us to continue working to further build our presence in older core market regions such as Europe and the US.”

How do you expect the opening of LEGOLAND Dubai to affect your sales and awareness in the Middle East region?

“We don’t know at this stage. The LEGOLAND parks are owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments – not the LEGO Group. As such the success criteria for me is first and foremost that that visitors leave the LEGOLAND parks and truly feel they have had a great day with a lot of fun and excitement.”

You recently announced plans to expand your London office, do you also plan to expand your presence in the Middle East in the coming years?

“We are continually adjusting our organisation to meet the demand we see globally. At this stage we have no plans to share for investments in the Middle East.”

Partnerships with popular film franchises have led to some of LEGO’s most popular sets and products, are you looking to expand any of these relationships into new areas in the years to come?

“We aim to have a healthy balance between our own homegrown product lines and products based on other licenses. If you look at the best-selling themes in 2016, out of the top five only one theme was based on a franchise – LEGO Star Wars. The others were LEGO City, LEGO Friends, LEGO NINJAGO and LEGO DUPLO.

“We are very mindful to collaborate with select partners and choose the stories that translate into inspiring and fun experiences. As an example, we have a longstanding collaboration with Disney on very popular themes such as Disney Princess as well as LEGO Star Wars.

“In terms of movies, we have a great partnership with Warner, which has made the LEGO Movie as well as the recently launched THE LEGO Batman Movie. We are excited about the reception of the latter across the world, and looking forward to the release the LEGO NINJAGO Movie later this year – as well as the release of the LEGO Movie 2 next year.

In 2015 LEGO was subject to controversy when Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was refused bricks for an artwork on political dissidents. How did the incident impact your policies and is it difficult to manage the brand’s image in a world now connected via instant messaging and social networks?

“As one of the most reputable brands in the world and an iconic global brand it is only natural that many stakeholders have an opinion on what we do and how we act as a company. That is part of operating a global company which is very visible.”

What are some of the new products you expect to drive sales this year?

“We have several hundred new products on the market each year, and all of them have been developed by dedicated designers working to deliver a truly exciting and fun experience – so we hope all of them will be popular. We have a great line-up in LEGO CITY, we continue to build the story and products of LEGO NINJAGO theme. And our LEGO Friends theme is entering its sixth year on the market and we have hopes for that as well. Ultimately the children all over the world will decide what experience they find most fun and relevant.”

Given how children are increasingly using tablets, smartphones and computers to play, how are you making sure the company stays relevant?

“While we firmly believe that the physical brick and hands-on building experience will remain relevant to children in future, we are actively seeking to explore how digitisation can enhance the physical experience of play. Allow me to name a few examples.

“In 2016 we launched LEGO NEXO Knights, where children as a part of the play experience can scan brick shields – that are part of the physical set – with the camera of their smart device in order to gain powers in a digital game where children play the characters of the NEXO Knights story. This is an example of how we work to create a seamless play experience for children – allowing them to build and play in the physical world as well as digitally.

“Another example is the Life app that was recently launched in several countries. It is a social media platform where children from all over the world can share their passion for LEGO play in a safe digital environment. This is an example of how we can create a fully digital experience that complements the physical experience and allows children to engage with other children – across cultures and borders.

“A third example would be LEGO Boost, which we are launching later this year. Thist allows children of a young age to physically build robots that they can easily programme afterwards. This is an example of how we can embed digital experiences in the physical product – while enabling children to learn more about coding in a really fun way.”

Do you have a favourite LEGO set or product?

“My personal favourite theme is the Technic series, but I am also very fond of the new Brickheadz that was release recently – I really like the building experience.”

LEGO® Professor of Play in Education, Development and Learning announced

May 27, 2017 in About Lego

LEGO Foundation website has just announced the following news

The University of Cambridge has appointed a world-leading researcher as the first LEGO Professor of Play in Education, Development and Learning.

The Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) was established in 2015 with a £4 million grant from the LEGO Foundation which also funded the leadership role which will be taken up by Professor Paul Ramchandani.

Having spent the past 15 years pursuing research focussed on child development Ramchandani, who currently leads the Child and Adolescent Mental Research Unit at Imperial College, London, will take up his role at PEDAL in January next year.

Geoff Hayward, Head of the Faculty of Education said: “Professor Ramchandani has an outstanding research record of international stature. He has the vision, leadership, experience and enthusiasm that PEDAL needs, and we are delighted that he is joining us. This is an exciting area of research which we feel will throw new light on the importance of play in early education.”

PEDAL is examining the importance of play in education globally with an aim to produce research which supports excellence in education so that children are equipped with 21st Century skills like problem solving, team work and self-control.

The work of the centre, based at the University’s Faculty of Education, is currently focused on three strands of research:

Establishing a long term study of the features of home and school which promote children’s playfulness, and the outcomes of early play experience for learning and emotional well-being
Developing an understanding of the underlying brain processes involved in play, and how to measure playfulness
Devising and evaluating play-based teaching approaches

Part of the Professor’s role heading up the centre will involve translating the research into hard evidence for international and national bodies as they produce policy around children’s right to play.

Professor Ramchandani said: “I am delighted to be taking up this role at Cambridge, and working with those at PEDAL on the challenge of finding the best evidence on where play fits in children’s development and education and how that can be used to give children the best start in life.

“Everyone has an opinion about what role play should have in early education and there is some wonderful research, but there are also big gaps in our knowledge. We need the best evidence possible in order to inform the vital decisions that are made about children’s education and development and I look forward to taking that work forward together with colleagues at Cambridge.”

Professor Anna Vignoles, acting head of PEDAL until Ramchandani takes up the new post, said: “The value of play is relatively under-researched. You have people who are claiming that it enhances learning, that it’s important, that it’s good for children’s wellbeing. All of that might be true, but actually there’s remarkably little evidence for that. The aim of the PEDAL centre is to conduct rigorous research into the importance of play and how playful learning can be used to improve students’ outcomes.”

Bo Stjerne Thomsen, Global Head of Research, the LEGO Foundation said: “There is a great need for establishing play as a central arena for learning and development in the minds and actions of those influencing children’s lives. PEDAL’s research is hugely important in that regard, and we’re excited that Professor Ramchandani will be taking the helm and join the efforts to underscore the importance of children’s learning through play.”

For more information contact:

Paul Holland, communications manager, University of Cambridge. Telephone +44 (0)1223 332300. Email:

Christina Witcomb, communication manager, LEGO Foundation. Telephone +45 79507442, +45 20308496. Email:

For images and background information go to:


Biography of Professor Paul Ramchandani:

Professor Paul Ramchandani is currently Professor of Child and Adolescent Mental Health at Imperial College. He also works as a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in the NHS with CNWL NHS Foundation Trust. He undertook his medical studies in Southampton before obtaining a degree in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He then completed training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and obtained a DPhil from Oxford University in 2005.Ramchandani’s research is focussed on early child development and particularly on the prevention of emotional and behavioural problems in the early years of life.

About PEDAL:

The guiding focus of the centre’s work is to develop substantial and compelling research concerned with the role of play and playfulness in young children’s learning and development, and the potential of play-based approaches within educational contexts. The kinds of skills and accomplishments that are widely recognised as being vital components of 21st century educational provision, including critical thinking, problem-solving, interpersonal abilities, emotional resilience and creativity, have all been linked theoretically and empirically to playfulness and playful learning.

PEDAL’s programme of research is well under way, including:

innovative use of GPS technology to track and observe social interactions in playgrounds;
working with teachers to develop and evaluate playful approaches to early science education;
investigating how ‘playfulness’ can be measured in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

About the LEGO Foundation:

The LEGO Foundation shares the mission of the LEGO Group: to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. The Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play: Join us on Twitter and Facebook.

About the University of Cambridge:

The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. Cambridge launched a £2 billion fundraising campaign in 2015. To date more than £860 million has been raised towards that total. The Dear World… Yours, Cambridge philanthropic campaign for the University and Colleges of Cambridge focuses on the University’s impact on the world. Through it, Cambridge is working with philanthropists to address major global problems. For more information about the campaign go to:

Lego Event Aids Hospice

May 26, 2017 in Serious Play Discussion

LEGO Serious Play is used for charitable causes to raise funds for children’s playroom in Ontario, Canada.

Play 4 Prosperity is bringing a team of Lego Serious Play leaders to Northgate Shopping Centre this weekend for Bricks4Hospice.

Children are invited to play for free from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days while donations are received for the children’s playroom at Nipissing Serenity Hospice. The play schedule is 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1-2:30 p.m. and 3-4:30 p.m. (with local celebrities) both days. Reserve your child’s spot at

The Escape Movement and Carte Blanche, both of North Bay, will be on hand selling limited-edition T-shirts they have created for the campaign. Shirts will be selling for $20 each with all proceeds going toward the hospice.

“When my team and I were brainstorming ways to support the local fundraiser while also supporting local business, it quickly became obvious for us to create some locally branded apparel,” said Michael Campigotto, CEO and founder of Play 4 Prosperity, the organization leading the charge on the campaign to help Nipissing Serenity Hospice to raise funds for its children’s playroom.

“The Escape Movement’s Andrew Morrison and Carte Blanche’s David Lamothe began to play off each other’s ideas,” Campigotto said. “One company, known for its contemporary and cutting-edge fashion, working with a leading local business in logo design and printing, working together to create something bigger. It’s a refreshing example of two top-tier businesses putting their skills together in a symbiotic and shining example of what living in North Bay is really about: Building local businesses to support local causes.”

Facilitator Training in LEGO Serious Play Methodology and Materials

May 26, 2017 in Serious Play Training

Get the experience with Facilitator Training in the LEGO® Serious Play® methodology with Marko Rillo, the Founder of community.

What sets this LEGO® Serious Play® training apart from others?

  1. Practice facilitating real business goals of the training participants!
  2. Learn LEGO Serious Play Methodology in a small group that has been carefully pre-selected!
  3. Training that is not overly complex. Just high quality and hands-on training in the LEGO® Serious Play® methodology on Level 1 (Individual Building) and on Level 2 (Shared Building).
  4. Learn complex Level 3 (Systems Building, Complex Problem Solving, Strategy) at live projects or during advanced training.
  5. Pathway to competency-based certificate in LEGO Serious Play® methods and materials.
  6. The right to use my training materials to train the others!
  7. Doing it all in 3 days.

What will you receive during LEGO® Serious Play® training?

The course fee covers training days, a course manual and a copy of our Serious Work book. Tea, coffee, snacks and working lunch throughout the training days. On-line coaching for preparing for your first self-designed workshop. Access to the on-line community network with other facilitators using the LEGO® Serious Play® methodology via

Training dates 2017

  • 28-30 August 2017 in Helsinki, Finland
  • 6-8 September 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia
  • 17-19 October 2017 in Helsinki, Finland

For more information click here to find out about LEGO® Serious Play® training or get in touch with Marko:


Effectiveness of Learning Through Experience and Reflection in a Project Management Simulation

May 17, 2017 in Serious Play Library

Today we take the opportunity of promoting another research paper “Effectiveness of Learning Through Experience and Reflection in a Project Management Simulation” that appeared in NASAGA journal Simulation & Gaming by Silke Geithner and Daniela Menzel. This article features LEGO Serious Play at university classroom setting. The authors report on how they used different tools to teach project management in simulation settings.

They conducted several simulations and in one of the sessions, they facilitated the students with LEGO Serious Play methodology to describe their personal strengths, create shared understandings of tasks and their simulation stakeholders. All those elements were laid out as a model of a landscape. The researchers finally asked the students in the group using LEGO Serious Play and in a control group to report their experience and results. The LSP group reported higher shared understanding and collaboration, but lower task efficiency, as LEGO Serious Play methodology took more time.

The abstract of the article is below. You need to get the full-text (PDF) directly from the journal website: If you are interested in related studies then a few days ago we posted a reference to a recent study of one of the co-authors of this paper Schultz & Greithner (2015) where they explained the use of LEGO Serious Play methodology as a creative tool in the book “Learning and Collective Creativity”.


Aim. In close cooperation with an international automotive supplier we developed the “C2” business simulation game in order to meet real work practice needs. Based on the example of a site-location decision and the setup of a new factory in China, the participants of the game experienced the challenges of an interdisciplinary project team as well as project management in complex and rapidly changing situations. During the game we used the creative learning method LEGO® Serious Play®,1 which helps to express different understandings through hands-on modelling. The aim of the game is to acquire and improve both technical project management knowledge and soft skills of the participants.

Method. In total, 47 students participated in one of six two-day game sessions. They reported self-perceptions about their skill level through pre- and post-game questionnaires. Further data were collected during the simulation game based on observations, lessons learned reflections of the participants and evaluation questionnaires.

Results. Results from our pre- and post-game self-assessment questionnaires show that the “C2” business simulation game improves not only conceptual knowledge about project management but also team working and the participants’ other soft skills. Results indicate that the students’ reactions to the simulation game were positive, and students felt that the LEGO Serious Play method helped them to better cope with challenges of teamwork, influences of stakeholders, risk factors and unpredictable project situations.

Conclusion. These results suggest that our business simulation game has the potential to be an effective learning and training tool to provide students with relevant skills necessary for project managers. By giving students the opportunity to act in an authentic scenario based on a real project case, we can support their action-oriented as well as their trial-and-error learning, or in short their learning through experience.

Get the full text of the paper here:

LEGO Serious Play – Feel Free to Use, Develop and Pass it on!

May 13, 2017 in About Lego Serious Play

Who and how is entitled to use, train, develop with LEGO® Serious Play® methodology? Very simple! Anybody is entitled to – provided that they follow the LEGO Serious Play Open-source guideline.

LEGO Serious Play Open-source document p. 4 states: “LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® has been made available by the LEGO Group under a Creative Commons licence ‘Attribution Share Alike’: see“.

This license means that you are free to:

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
  • The licensor (LEGO) cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

You need to do this under the following terms:

  • Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  • ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.
  • No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

It is as simple as: “1) You use, 2) you develop, 3) you pass it on to anybody else to use under the same terms.“

Anybody can do what they like with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® as long as they refer to original LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Open-source document and give exactly the same credit for the next developers. If you are in doubt how to best formulate it, you may just use the sentence:

“This approach/application/technique/model/roadmap/case builds on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Open-source guideline made available by the LEGO® Group under a Creative Commons licence. Feel free to share and use under the same licence and enjoy playing seriously with bricks!” :-)

When you do that it is important to make a distinction to what is in the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Open Source Guide and what are proprietary materials. E.g. if somebody has created something, which has their original ideas and that they do not allow others to use. If you are in doubt then get in touch with the authors and make sure that you will not violate their rights nor trust.


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©2009-2018 links professional facilitators using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology. It is not affiliated with LEGO. Check LEGO SERIOUS PLAY open source for details or get in touch with us.

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