Using LEGO to make teamwork work

January 22, 2019 in Serious Play Discussion

Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living I get nervous. If the truth be told I play with LEGO. I use LEGO to make teamwork work better. I was recently asked about this in a radio interview and I gave more detail. If you are interested in hearing about using LEGO in this way please go to https://soundcloud.com/conbussa/what-can-adults-learn-from-how-our-kids-play-legoplay-in-the-workplace

And if you have specific questions just give me a shout.

I am a LEGO SERIOUS PLAY facilitator and I conduct facilitator training workshops. I believe there is more to using LEGO in this way than just the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology. LEGO plays an important role in engaging the participants emotionally and enhancing their commitment to their decisions or solutions arrived at. I will be writing more about this in my blog on my website http://www.teamgel.co.za. In fact, after using LEGO for over 15 years to make teamwork work I have observed many key success factors and am now ready to share them with you.

For instance, I have devised the formula “SHARED BOND + SHARED POINT OF VIEW = SHARED ACTION” as a result of observing my delegates’ behaviour (forget about Grammerly. This is the absolutely correct spelling). I use LEGO to achieve a Shared Bond, LEGO SERIOUS PLAY to achieve a Shared Point of View, and draw on material about changing habits to strengthen Shared Action decided upon using the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology.

My hope is we can enter into a discussion about topics raised by using LEGO to make teamwork work. Here’s my favourite. For a development and training programme to be effective, it has to be based on correct assumptions about the nature of Human Beings. And what’s one of the most important assumptions about Human Nature that impacts on management and leadership theory? Human beings are future orientated. (I don’t think my late pet dog, Chipper, was.)

Please join me on a journey of using LEGO, including LEGO SERIOUS PLAY, to enhance teamwork. This journey has been 15 years in the making and, hopefully, I’ll soon broaden it to include you. Visit Teamgel’s blog on www.teamgel.co.za and you’ll find my email address on the website.

Involving people in their future using LEGO SERIOUS PLAY

October 31, 2016 in Serious Play Discussion

Bordering Johannesburg North in South Africa is Diepsloot, a shanty town born in the Apartheid era now facing poverty and urban challenges from decades of neglect. The Wot-if? Trust is dedicated to making a positive contribution to uplifting Diepsloot. The South African Social Good Summit was held during UN Week on 19th September, 2016, arranged by the Wot-if? Trust. A LEGO SERIOUS PLAY workshop was held to consider what must be done to make Diepsloot a desirable place to live and work in by the year 2030. Click here to view a video of their LEGO SERIOUS PLAY presentation.

Video – Shared model of how do we understand LEGO SERIOUS PLAY

February 2, 2015 in Serious Play Videos

A shared model of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY presented at facilitator training in Johannesburg, Jan. 2015

Pete Smith of Teamgel facilitated a LEGO SERIOUS PLAY facilitator training workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa in January, 2015. This is a video of the attendees presenting the shared model they built of “What is LEGO SERIOUS PLAY?” Team members: Boyd Mooiman, DJ Grant, Michael Raubenheimer and Monika Adelfang

Lego Serious Play preparation case study – when is enough, enough?

January 6, 2015 in Serious Play Case Studies

The email read: “We currently manage a very evolved graduate programme. This includes some of the brightest and talented graduates from exclusive universities. Our final selection is regarded as the crème de la crème. We offer our graduates three jobs over a period of five years on two continents. We have ten new grads. joining us in February.  Along with our current grads. we would like to have a fun-filled, exciting team building day for them to get to know each other and work together.”

I think: “I’ve got just the answer for you.”, because:

  • LEGO SERIOUS PLAY in itself is team building.
  • LEGO SERIOUS PLAY in itself is fun.
  • The client wants to mix the current grads. with the newbies. I’ll allocate some of each of them in each team.
  • They are supposed to be clever, so the issue for them to consider must be a challenging one.
  • Besides team building of the established and new grads. we are dealing with induction of the new grads. and marketing the company to them.
  • I’ll propose to the prospective client a one day LEGO SERIOUS PLAY workshop centered on the issue: “Build a LEGO model of a successful candidate on Company X’s Graduate Development Programme.”

I think again: “What is the second right answer?”

  • These guys are serious: a programme consisting of three jobs over five years on two continents.
  • Not only are they serious, they are prepared to make a long term investment.
  • The one day team building workshop cannot be a standalone incident unrelated to the overall investment.
  • It must be integrated with the other programmes the grads. will undertake.
  • The power of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY lies in its ability to emotionally involve the delegates in the issue they jointly consider.
  • Beyond factual answers, we are building a sense of belonging and commitment amongst the grads.
  • The issue they tackle must be useful and meaningful to each and every one of them as they embark upon their managerial career.
  • How about them answering the question “What must be done to succeed on the Grad. Development Programme?” They can first build individual models of their own thoughts and then collate them into an agreed answer.
  • Then, as those annoying infomercials say, “Wait, there’s more.” Then they each have to build an individual LEGO model in answer to “What must I do to succeed on the programme.” Each delegate is then required to evolve the 3-D LEGO model into a written action plan that then becomes an integral part of that grads.’ performance appraisal over the next few years.

Hey, this is fun, so I think again:

  • I buy into LEGO SERIOUS PLAY because if addresses joint issues at an emotional level as well as a rational one. I don’t quite understand what’s happening but I firmly believe self-motivation is triggered. After all, decisions aren’t only rational.
  • Maybe there’s more I can do to strengthen the positive emotions and attitudes evoked by LEGO SERIOUS PLAY.
  • How about the framework of Experiential Learning: Doing, Reflecting, Applying. Let the delegates “play” with LEGO. That’s the “Doing”. Then they can reflect upon their behaviour. After all, playing with LEGO is fun and it creates an atmosphere supportive of introspection. So if the LEGO exercises are structured in a way to elicit certain managerial behaviours, afterwards they can be reflected upon. Then a LEGO SERIOUS PLAY session can be structured to work out an answer as to how the delegates can successfully implement those behaviours.

Oops, time to think again.

  • Wait a minute! Who is the client? Let’s get back to what the client wants. What is right for the client?
  • Sure, ask the client, but I have to put a proposal on the table to even stand a chance of getting the business.

What would you do? Please add your comments below …

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY facilitation training in South Africa in 2015

December 18, 2014 in Serious Play Training

Pete Smith of Teamgel will offer LEGO SERIOUS PLAY

facilitator training in Johannesburg on the following dates:

– 26, 27 January
– 11, 12 May
– 3, 4 August
– 16, 17 November

For more information or to book please contact Pete: pete@teamgel.co.za

LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™ Facilitator Training offered in South Africa in 2014

October 7, 2013 in Serious Play Training

Teamgel will conduct LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™ Facilitator Training in Johannesburg on the following dates:

  • 17th and 18th February 2014
  • 12th and 13th May 2014
  • 15th and 16th September 2014
  • 10th and 11th November 2014

For more information contact me on: pete@teamgel.co.za

Is LEGO vital to LEGO SERIOUS PLAY?

October 5, 2013 in Serious Play Discussion

Bricks or No Bricks for Lego Serious Play?

Bricks or No Bricks for Lego Serious Play?

Please, will someone out there clarify this fundamental question for me. Marko has been very helpful in suggesting alternative LEGO kits to use when the officially recommended LEGO kits are out of stock. The implication here is that the officially recommended kits are not the only ones that can be used.

My understanding of what Heracleous and Jacobs are saying in their book Crafting strategy: Embodied Metaphors in Practice is that the “Embodied Metaphors” need not be constructed out of LEGO at all. The criteria they use more generically relate to three dimensional space and the relationships between the tangible entities in that space. I don’t remember even seeing the word “LEGO” in the copy of their thesis, although I hazard a guess the authors would say LEGO is an ideal candidate.

My point is the methodology we fondly refer to as LEGO SERIOUS PLAY does not necessarily have to be carried out using LEGO pieces. Other objects can be used. The most valuable and universally applicable characteristics of the process are inherent in human nature, not LEGO. We think metaphorically and turning this cognition into 3-dimensional models helps us clarify them to ourselves and share them with others. Storytelling is a proven technique that helps human beings communicate clearly. And so on.

If what I have written above is true it has implications for those of us who live in parts of the world where it is difficult to source LEGO pieces, not only because LEGO doesn’t deliver their product to our countries, and we have to pay additional courier charges to source it, but we face further barriers like exchange rates. I’m proposing it’s OK to supplement the LEGO stock with other physical objects (match box, piece of string, acorn, tin can, things that are readily available but cost little). That will make it easier for those of us living in “far away” places like Africa and Asia to have access to the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology.

Video about Lego Serious Play

April 9, 2013 in Serious Play Videos

What happens when I attend a LEGO Serious Play workshop

The Video is a clip that Teamgel team have put together to demonstrate the Lego Serious Play approach unfolding.

And a short story about the background. When I attended Denise Meyerson’s course for LEGO Serious Play facilitators she stressed the importance of the delegates being in a state of FLOW to fully participate in the process. Interestingly, the first time I came across the concept of flow was when I was researching the meaning of “happiness”, but that’s another story. For those of you who need a reminder of what flow constitutes, I refer you to a page on my website – Csíkszentmihályi’s concept of FLOW.

Looking at the steps followed in the LEGO Serious Play methodology it’s the step of letting the delegates have a practice run of the LEGO Serious Play methodology upfront that has as one of its objectives to initiate flow. What we’re wanting is a group state of flow, as much as a state of flow in each and every delegate. If that is correct, and I’m sure some of you might want to say we are only striving for individual states in the individuals, then what we are striving for is something more than the ten characteristics Csíkszentmihályi identifies.

What leads to a group state of flow as opposed to an individual state of flow which, I believe, is also a prerequisite for LEGO Serious Play? I believe (notice, I didn’t say “know”) it’s that shared bond between people and within a team that arises when people have shared an experience in which they are required to work together. Through cooperation a sense of belonging to the team arises. It’s the “When we…” scenario: When we were at school together…”, “When we were in the army together…” And, in Teamgel’s case: “When our LEGO dog called Fluffy beat the heck out of your LEGO dog called Mick Jagger.”

And that’s what LEGO Serious Fun is all about. It’s a process, premised on fun and structured as a team task, designed to achieve a shared bond between people. Something tells me it is the positive, underlying shared emotion that is the foundation of motivation. I prefer to use it as an introduction to using the LEGO Serious Play methodology as it enhances delegate participation in the latter. I also use it as a standalone offering to clients.

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