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.
Vitamins Design Studio has produced a fabulous wall calendar with the help of LEGO Bricks.
They have written on their website: The Lego calendar is a wall mounted time planner that we invented for our studio. It’s made entirely of Lego, but if you take a photo of it with a smartphone all of the events and timings will be magically synchronised to an online, digital calendar. It makes the most of the tangibility of physical objects, and the ubiquity of digital platforms, and it’s also puts a smile on our faces when we use it!
In exploring what we could do, we were tempted by all sorts of interactive tech-centered solutions – but the more we put technology at the forefront, the more restrictive the system became. We needed something that anyone could use, in any way they felt, and we had read about other companies who had used LEGO to visualise complex logistics systems in a simple and tangible way. We loved LEGO could be used to make complex information tangible, and after much experimenting we created a calendar on our wall which is made entirely out of Lego bricks.
Here’s how it works:
Every row represents a month – we have three months on our wall
Every column represents a day of the week
Every project has its own colour, and we keep a little index hidden away to remember which colour represents which project.
Each brick represents a half day spent on that particular project.
We’ve placed this on the wall in full view of the studio, because it means we can instantly look up and get a really quick overview of what we’re working on and what’s coming up.
Wharton professor David Robertson with Bill Breen have written an engaging book, which contains a real case study on innovation management. It follows the footsteps of the history of LEGO Corporation, which was innovating heavily, but was still at the brink of collapse in 2003. Very similar to Apple corporation at the verge of bankruptcy before the second coming of Steve Jobs, LEGO had essentially over-innovated. They had too many products, their production was too scattered and they had lost the understanding on what was the core what they were good at.
At the same time, they had fought a strong fight with electronic tools and computer games that had become much more interesting for children around the world. Children thought that LEGO was primarily thing of the past. They did not consider it cool to play. They also had to fight with a number of cheap copycats from developing world who were able to eat their market share.
The book focuses on what happened next. How a traditional family firm that was until that moment been managed solely by the family members brought in a young outsider – Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, a former McKinsey consultant who had previously received PhD from Aarhus University. Knudstorp started leading LEGO strategy department and was ultimately appointed as a CEO. Knudstorp reviewed the strategy, made a series of difficult decisions to cut back in costs to stop the company bleeding cash and thereafter managed to revamp the innovation activities to make sure that it would become the first choice of toys for parents and children around the world again.
While the other two global toy players on the market – Mattel and Hasbro have been virtually at a standstill over past 5 years, LEGO has managed growing its revenues 22 per cent and its profitability even 38 per cent. An interesting case study to read for everybody to think about innovation from a different angle.
There is an interesting video about Lego Serious Play at one of the Google Zeitgeist Conferences presented by Lewis Pinault (Past Director of Lego Serious Play) and Mark William Hansen (Past Director of Lego Digital Play).
Network of Professional Lego Serious Play Facilitators