August 3, 2018 in About Lego Serious Play
There has been some confusion on who owned the original copyrights of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® application techniques and 4 Core Steps process. One of the LSP practitioners suggested recently “These elements are NOT – and have never been – the IP of the LEGO Group.” in a discussion taking place on one of the social media platforms. The person suggested that the IP of both of these fundamental LSP tools are his.
This claim is not true. In the post below I will explain that the both concepts were originally IP of the LEGO Group and based on the Open Source model, the both concepts are currently available for everybody to use without any restrictions.
Edited (8 August 2018) and added disclaimer. I have taken the photos of the excerpts of the respective materials here for informative purposes to demonstrate that LEGO has IP for the respective materials. The copyright of those materials belong to the LEGO Group. The information is hereby presented according to the LEGO generic trademark principles of “Fair Play“
What is the “LSP core process” and what are “7 LSP Application Techniques”?
Lets start with definitions. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Core Process consists of 4 steps:
- Facilitator Poses the Questions
- Individuals Build a Model
- Individuals Tell Their Story
- Questions and Reflections
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Seven Application Techniques are:
- Building Individual Models
- Building Shared Models
- Creating a Landscape
- Making Connections
- Building a System
- Playing Emergence
- Extracting Simple Guiding Principles (SGP)
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Imaginopedia for Core Process
When you buy a LSP Starter Kit you will find in your package a small leaflet titled “Imaginopedia(TM) for Core Process”. When you open this material on the 2nd page you can see the 4-step core process consisting of those stages listed. Looking at the back side of this material you may find the text: “(C)2009 The LEGO Group.” It should be evident that the LEGO Group claims the copyright of the core process.
LEGO Group’s Lego Serious Play White Facilitator’s Manual
Lets also look at some historic materials because the person has suggested that many years ago those materials were not the IP of LEGO group.
During early LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® training sessions the participants received several sets of materials from LEGO Systems Inc. (a subsidiary of LEGO Group).
One of the training handouts was a prominent white folder with insert papers carrying a generic title “Facilitator’s Manual”. On the cover of this folder it carried words: “LSP Core Process. Building Individual Models and Stories. Building Shared Models and Stories. Designing LSP Workshops.”
This handout was of a mixed text with sections filled with loose leafs. Intro to methodology. Detailed overview of training days. Facilitating the LSP process. Designing the LSP process. Science behind the LSP. Appendices. The only consistent feature of this handout was that at the bottom of EVERY page it made adamantly clear that the intellectual property of this material was held by LEGO.
Looking closely, LEGO Group has stated that the handouts are a Copyright of the LEGO Group (C) 2007 and that they have “All rights reserved worldwide”. Check the images of the respective tables of contents below.
On page “1-6” of the facilitator manual it displays the 7 Application Modules for LEGO SERIOUS PLAY (C) 2006 The LEGO Group, plus you can find that in the footer the material repeats again the statement “All rights reserved worldwide”. Look at the image below.
Likewise, on pages “2-2” and “2-3” the LEGO Group facilitator manual describes Four Core Steps in the LSP Process, at the footer of the page there is the statement (C) 2007 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WORLDWIDE. Look at the image below
LEGO Group’s Lego Serious Play Black Facilitator’s Manual
The second source prepared in 2005 which demonstrates 7 LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Application techniques is so called “Black Facilitator’s Manual”, which is a somewhat more thorough material. When one reviews the black facilitator manual – LEGO has written that they own copyright for those materials since 2005.
It consists of a number of sections: Principles of LSP, Getting Started with Workshops, Skills Building, Real Time Strategy for the Enterprise, Real Time Strategy for the Beast, Real Time Strategy for the Team, Real Time Strategy for You, Window Process Technique and a number of annexes – materials for photocopying, handling practicalities, tips for selling LSP to executive audiences and summary flowcharts describing each of the applications in detail.
Starting to browse the material it is possible to observe the section on “Real Time Strategy”, which includes one after another all those 7 steps described above:
LEGO Group’s Imaginopedia for Applications from 2004
Finally, also “The Imaginopedia(TM) for LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Applications”, published in 2004 by The LEGO Group is straightforward in its copyright (see the back cover). Looking at its pages below it is again possible to find all 7 steps for the Application Techniques. See the photos of this material below.
So Who owns the IP for the LSP Core Process and Application Techniques?
LEGO Trademark Guidelines p. 1 the provides a full list of items LEGO has explicitly claimed under their own IP. The list includes both Imaginopedia(TM) brochures as well as Facilitator Manuals, i.e. the both materials that have included the 4-Step Core Process as well as 7 Application Techniques.
Read yourself and check whether the evidence presented above from the LEGO Group materials could be grounds to claim: “These elements are NOT – and have never been – the IP of the LEGO Group.”
What does this mean in practice?
Just to make things clear, yes, my view is that these materials are IP of the LEGO Group.
However, then again – in 2010 LEGO Group decided that the principles of methodology would be open source, i.e. anybody can use the method freely, develop it further and pass it on as long as they respect LEGO’s trademarks. This means that the methodology that was produced up to this given moment is no longer protected by the LEGO IP. The basic principles, the philosophy, and the materials can be used by anybody according to the Creative Commons “Attribution Share Alike” licence.
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 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/“.
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.“
How do you give credit to LEGO Corporation?
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 and how do you give credit to others?
What is said above does not mean that anybody can do anything they want. When you start developing your own LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® stuff – it is really important to make a distinction to what are indeed proprietary materials.
In some instances some people have created their own particular LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® roadmaps of different workshops that make use of the principles, the philosophy and the materials. Somebody has used it for agile retrospectives. Somebody for job interviews, consumer mapping, user experience, business modelling etc.
Likewise – if you have attended somebody’s training or a conference presentation on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® you are not allowed to use their training materials without permission.
So please make sure that you understand if somebody has created an application of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology toolset where they have weaved in their original ideas. If you are in doubt then get in touch with the authors, ask their permission and make sure that you will not violate their rights nor trust.
July 4, 2018 in Serious Play Library
Stephen Dann published in Australasian Marketing Journal a paper documenting his experience, reflection and results on using LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology for co-creation at universities. The abstract of this paper is below:
Lego Serious Play was founded within the Lego Corporation in the mid-90s as a response to an unusual problem why a company that sold creativity by the kilo was struggling for market share, profit and new thinking. Built from the ground up as a make-or-break proposition, the LSP process is an industry strength business solution designed to create conducive conditions for problem recognition, knowledge creation, and shared understanding. Based on these condition, and the 2010 open source licence of the protocol, this paper outlines the Lego Serious Play process, the history and origin of the method, and the seven principles underpinning its operation. The paper then outlines the adaptation of the LSP method from industry to academy, to showcase how to bring the technique into the classroom. Educators can use the step by step guide to construct a classroom activity that draws on Lego Serious Play to further promote key graduate outcomes of communication, creativity and shared understanding.
You may access the full text (PDF) via Australasian Marketing Journal Elsevier website:
Dann, Stephen (2018) Facilitating co-creation experience in the classroom with Lego Serious Play. Australasian Marketing Journal. Volume 26, Issue 2, May 2018, Pages 121-131.
See the media from this article below
May 22, 2018 in Serious Play Discussion
Creativity doesn’t always rule the corner office. In the territory of heavy desks and understated colors, executives can seem to favor decisions that match the décor. They might explain that they’re playing it safe or playing the long game. But perhaps they should be playing—period.
Some time ago we wrote in SeriousPlayPro how Harvard Business School introduced LEGO Serious Play to their curriculum. This post elaborates on the creativity and innovation
“Think about it: If a company wants to grow, there are really only three ways. The first is to buy other companies. The second is to try to squeeze more out of your existing products. And the third is through new products, services, business models, and ways to reach customers,”
says Stefan Thomke, William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, making a case for the necessity of innovation.
When Thomke teaches innovation, he plays hard. One might expect raised eyebrows when the faculty chair of the HBS Executive Education Leading Product Innovation program breaks out LEGO® bricks during one of his signature programs. Yet students will soon discover a professor who brings toys into his classroom as a means of illuminating and restructuring business inventiveness brick by brick.
“When I conducted research for a LEGO Case Study, I learned about a methodology called LEGO Serious Play (LSP). In LSP, specially designed LEGO kits are used to facilitate strategy building, vision setting, and problem-solving sessions for business executives,” Thomke says.
Mastering this kind of play took work. Thomke spent months earning two LSP certifications and adapting the knowledge to his curriculum, all after extended case study research that brought him all the way back to the remote Danish wood shop where LEGO began a century ago. Appropriately enough, the recent LEGO turnaround that Thomke studied only came about after a young CEO dismantled its sagging corporate structure and married the company’s imaginative roots with sustainable, user-centric product development processes.
LEGO bricks aren’t the only unexpected place from which Thomke draws innovation inspiration: “Several years ago, I came upon the realization that magicians can be some of the best innovators,” Thomke says. “Night after night, they have to come up with new tricks in order to entertain and wow their audience. I had the great fortune to run into Jason Randal… and over the course of many months, we developed a common set of principles that work well for innovation and are inspired by what magicians like Jason do.”
Some may still scoff at toys and tricks in the business classroom. Perhaps they forget that the best, most constructive learning is inherently fun. The lucky among us can remember youthful joys of solving the world’s mysteries. Even luckier are those who still play this pioneering game. The truly fortunate are playing at work.
This article was produced on behalf of Harvard Business School by the Quartz marketing team and not by the Quartz editorial staff. LEGO is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies, which do not endorse Harvard Business School Executive Education.
May 22, 2018 in Serious Play Discussion
Today I discovered that City of Cape Town in South Africa has announced a public tender. They are recruiting a LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology trainer to deliver a 2-day training event for their 35 staff members. They have prepared a bureaucratic document of more than 30 pages (pdf): South Africa Cape Town LEGO SERIOUS PLAY training tender documents
An interesting part of this bureaucratic masterpiece was the section on evaluation criteria (pp. 23-24):
- More than 10 LEGO SERIOUS PLAY training sessions completed – max 20 points
- More than 8 years of experience in facilitating with LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology – max 15 points
- The facilitation approach include methods to enhance the ability of the participant to understand and apply the Lego Serious Play innovation skill – max 20 points
- Proposed materials or content to be used and applied in the facilitation process meets the criteria or requirements of the specification – max 30 points
- An appropriately experienced facilitator with more than 8 years of relevant experience in facilitation of Lego Serious Play training sessions – max 15 points.
In practice, this means that a couple of dozen individuals around the world should be able to fulfill all the requirements fully. I am just wondering how many would bother to fill in 30 pages of forms just to deliver a 2-day training. :-)
Anyway, if you are interested in bidding you need to hurry. The deadline for submission of bids is 25 May 2018 at 2:00 PM Cape Town time. Check this site for more details: https://www.sa-tenders.co.za/content/lego-serious-play-training
May 19, 2018 in Serious Play Discussion
There was a time when Lego was simply considered an effective mental development tool, focused solely on children. With years of research and development, companies are now recognising how Lego or to put it right ‘LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY ®’ can help enhance customer experience and kindle the potential of their employees. In today’s highly competitive business environment, companies are seeking newer ways to harness and explore the talent and expertise of their existing workforce. Enterprises are striving to create a work culture which is more productive and more importantly unobstructed that can serve the end customer better.
Well, surprising as it may seem, playing with Lego bricks can help organisations overcome these business concerns by tapping into their existing resource pool, facilitating open communications, initiating changes, and even introducing radically new propositions.
ACE – Transcending Experience and Empowering Businesses
The Academy of Customer Experience, popularly known as ACE, is an organization that solves problems, transcends experiences and empowers businesses through LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. With the framework of “Play | Think | Transform®”, ACE has several reputed industry leaders from Financial, Telekome, Insurance, IT/ITES, Retail, Logistics industries to name a few like Reliance Jio, Nokia NSN, L&T Infotech , Robert Bosch, E-Zest etc as its clients. The company is an Asian partner of the BG Group, which has its presence in over 1,00 countries across the globe.
Play is not frivolous. It is not luxury. It is not something to fit in after completing all the important stuff. Play is the important stuff. Play is a drive, a need, a brain-building must-do. – Jeff Johnson & Denita Dinger.
ACE’s flagship product “Playshop®” uses LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for frameworks (Areas of Customer Experience Management, Design Thinking, Service Design & Innovation) to unleash the power of inspiration, thinking and imagination in corporate setups. It utilises Lego bricks to demonstrate the value of a hands-on, collaborative, iterative problem solving process that involves each and every team member in overcoming unique challenges. By engaging professionals in solving everyday problems, Playshop® provides deep insights into how these individuals would function together as a team in real-time situations.
Participants engage in a world of “play and storytelling” where the common language used is the Lego bricks; this ensures every participant is at the same pedestal and his/her opinions and perspective are heard and allocated equal weightage. The Lego bricks become the only means of communication and help professionals connect and exchange their ideas and thoughts more easily and effectively. This form of communication eliminates the hurdles associated with the traditional means of communication, which may, at times, be very restrictive. Team leads and managers can identify the strengths of individuals within their teams, and even gauge how effective their personal instructions as a leader are.
“In our sessions we have had amazing experiences, colleagues discovered that they knew so less about each other inspite of being together for years, artists and musicians were discovered, managers understood their members and concerns better, and there were also extremes when people broke down in few sessions after understanding how some problems were playing on their unconscious mind which they were ignoring”, recalls Laxman, Founder-Academy of Customer Experience.
Playshop® helps organisations discover new frontiers to improve enterprise-wide communication and open the gates for honest thought exchanges. It fosters three-dimensional thinking by creating and constructing metaphors that represent the real challenges faced in organisations. The Lego bricks engage not just the minds but also the hands, as a result of which, thoughts and ideas from the mind take shape and are expressed in greater details through the Lego bricks. Playshop brings deep, valuable subconscious thoughts to the surface. Though this approach is unconventional, it enables visual interactive thinking, kindles creative pursuit, and offers new dimensions to solving day-to-day business challenges.
ACE’s Playshop® instils leadership development, strategic and creative thinking, ideation, agile mindset development, and collaboration. It also facilitates constructive dialogs and provides individual mentoring and executive development. With the help of a hands-on, minds-on approach, Playshop® has, till date, helped several companies improve their corporate team building strategies, which has not only assisted employees but also organisations in serving their clients better through the power of collaborative thinking. ACE’s objective is to help enterprises activate and unify their human capital to reach a common goal together.
ACE’s new offerings based on the Play |Think |Transform® framework – Flashcards and Design Thinking are the addition to the innovative way ACE helps in transforming the way organizations look at their business problems and goals. While Flashcards enable members to think and visualize/simulate the unforeseen challenges, the Design Thinking play makes them look at a business scenario in a whole new perspective and helps them innovate ideas to delight customers as part of their daily operations.
Read more about ACE’s Playshops that solve business problems, transcend experiences and empower businesses.
May 16, 2018 in Pro Community
After the successful internship of 3 young people at SeriousPlayPro Tallinn office last year we are again announcing summer internship called SeriousPlayPro Academy for a group of young people who are interested in spending a month of their summer playing with LEGO bricks, learning a lot about the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology and contributing to the community. Last year three students were working with us: Karen Künnapas , Merilyn Ohtla and Yumiko Kijima and you can read about their adventures from their blog
They were supported with the following faculty members with whom they carried out web interviews and learned about LEGO SERIOUS PLAY: Joyce Miller, Eli De Friend, Sebastian Simand, Stephen Dann, Sean Blair, Scott Decker and Marko Rillo
If you are interested in becoming one of the interns or serving as a faculty then read more here: http://seriousplaypro.com/academy
May 9, 2018 in Serious Play Library
In the forthcoming Special Issue we will explore the use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and further LEGO® related innovative applications for learning and teaching as well as supporting students’ and staff’s learning and development in the context of Higher Education.
The use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®has been spreading in the last few years in Higher Education institutions in the United Kingdom and beyond. More and more academics and other professionals who teach or support learning in these settings are often intrigued to find out more about it, train to become accredited LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitators, participate in staff development workshops and implementing related activities in their practice to spice up their teaching and create stimulating learning experiences.
Currently, an openly licensed book is in preparation by the Co-Editors of this Special Issue, which captures among other things a selection of mini LEGO® stories (Nerantzi and James, forthcoming). Also, James (2015) published a report about the use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® specifically in the Creative Arts & Design.
This Special Issue aims to go wider and deeper in exploring the potential of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®for teaching and learning in the context of higher education and showcase the emerging work and research in this area from around the world.
We welcome articles from new and more experienced academic writers, practitioners and researchers who have been using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® across the disciplines and professional areas as well as students, who are using it for their learning at undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral level, from around the world and would like to share their work with a wider audience through an open access issue and help us all gain new insights and deepen our understandings in this area further.
We will consider the following types of contributions:
- Reflective articles (1000-3000 words)
- Research papers (3000-5000 words)
- Viewpoints (2000-3000 words)
The deadline to submit your article is 1 November 2018. This Special Issue will be published in December 2018.
Guidelines for Authors
Papers must be original work not published elsewhere. The Journal has a preferred publication style (follow the link for more details on Authors Guidelines). Please submit your paper as an email attachment to email@example.com. Early submissions are encouraged.
All papers will go through the double blind review process.
Submission deadline – 1 November 2018 (OPEN)
Dr Chrissi Nerantzi (@chrissinerantzi) is a Principal Lecturer within the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at ManchesterMetropolitanUniversity in the United Kingdom. She is passionate about creativity, play, learning through making and openness and has initiated a wide range of professional development opportunities that bring these three elements together in her practice and research. Chrissi is a certified LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator with experience using the method and variations of it in a wide range of higher education context. Chrissi is a Principal Fellow of the HigherEducationAcademy, a Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association, a National Teaching Fellow and the Learning Technologist of the Year 2017 and won the GO-GN Best Open Research Practice Award in 2018.
Alison James (@alisonrjames)is a Professor of Learning and Teaching at the University of Winchester, a National Teaching Fellow and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK. She is co-author, with Stephen D Brookfield, of Engaging Imagination: helping students become creative and reflective thinkers, published by Jossey Bass in 2014. Her longstanding interests in higher education are the use and development of creative and alternative approaches to tertiary learning. In particular she has explored this in relation to personal development planning, reflective practice and identity and self-construction within the disciplines. Alison is an accredited LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator.
April 27, 2018 in Serious Play Discussion
Dieter Reuther from Cast Collective shared a recent podcast by Belinda Doveston from Building Teams, who is an innovative educator from South Africa. The podcast segment was covering Cast Collective’s case study LEGO SERIOUS PLAY for UX Research – with a kind reference to a recent article written by Dieter Reuther here on our community group in the episode Bridging the Social Divide. Listen to the short segment of the podcast on Cast Collective here: http://www.castcollective.com/index.php/podcast-lsp-ux-research/
It was lovely to hear that Belinda expanded her podcast further to include words about the works on play by Brian Sutton-Smith. I loved to listen to the Belinda’s other podcasts that covered the concepts of “one brick at a time”, Otto Scharmer’s work on theory U, on finding happiness at work, about storytelling at work. Lots of interesting stuff.
Check out the entire series of Belinda Doveston’s podcast here: https://buildingteams.co.za/podcasts/
April 26, 2018 in Serious Play Library
David Gauntlett who is an avid LEGO player and fan has just issued his second edition of the classic Making is Connecting 1st Edition book. In his book he talks about the value of crafting stuff with your hands and with your mind.
It was one of the first books that I read when I got into the world of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology. What David did so beautifully in this book was arguing about how creativity and craft go hand in hand. He also suggests that re-emergence of do-it-yourself movement all around the world as a counter act to mere consumption helps to shape people who are happier, better connected to their communities, and better able to initiate change in themselves and in others. All of this thinking comes with rich illustrations using LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology and underlying philosophy.
I haven’t had the chance to open the new edition of this book yet, but the Amazon preview reveals that the 2nd edition replaces chapters on Web 2.0 and adds stuff on creative process, on making music and on creating creative platforms. Sounds cool to me!
See David’s video introduction of the second edition of the book below and pre-order the book itself via Amazon: Making is Connecting 2nd Edition.
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.