The other day, I facilitated a group session for a client. Discussions are sometimes tense with this group and it often feels difficult for the participants to share openly. Discussions are guarded and past brainstorming sessions have proven laborious.
Over the Summer, a friend of mine inspired me by sharing an exercise he does with groups during a wilderness camp using pebbles. Each participant chooses pebbles and describes the group with them. He usually does this with small groups and my group was a bit larger than what he described. I felt inspired by the concept but wasn’t prepared to take the plane with a backpack full of pebbles and symbolically, it didn’t seem like something I wanted to do!
In replacement of pebbles, I had the following idea: I bought 255 2×1 Lego bricks in 15 different colours.
I set them out on a little table in the middle and asked the participants to represent the group and their relationship to it. I didn’t do any skills building or mention anything other than giving them that task. All participants were able to respond. One person took a handful of bricks and threw them on the floor and said “chaos”. Another spontaneously started explaining why he used a particular colour. This prompted the next participant to explain why he had connected two bricks.
We had many discussion and lunch before we moved on to the second part of the discussion: aspirations. I asked them to represent themselves with one or multiple bricks and then explain their aspirations for the group.
This time, the models were a little more elaborate and participants spontaneously asked questions about the model.
All in all, I was extremely surprised by the amount of information that was shared using such simple bricks. Initially, I had planned to use 1×1 and that would have been a mistake because I would have limited connection options. I was also surprised to find that despite not having given any process or skills building, a lot of Lego Serious Play concepts spontaneously emerged. Finally, despite the tense atmosphere, all participants seemed to enjoy the exercise and got involved.