LEGO Serious Play methodology has received a critical look by New York Times bestselling author Dan Lyons. He has titled his new book “Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us“. The opening sequence of this book provides a story of his encounter with one of LEGO Serious Play facilitators and his puzzle with the “duck” exercise. 

Dan Lyons argues that “pseudo happiness” generated by LEGO Serious Play practitioners alongside with Agile practitioners has been one of the main reasons why startup community and industry at large is actually ending up more miserable. 

In his opening chapter he describes how he met a LEGO Serious Play facilitator who goes by a pseudonym “Julia” who was combining the methodology with agile, NLP, New Age psychotherapy and hypnosis. 

As a result of the encounter and the duck exercise, Dan Lyons is left puzzled and bewildered. He suggests that LEGO workshops are just one example of “nonsense that is creeping into the workplace” whereby the offices look more and more like “Montessori preschools” rather than serious places for business. He concludes that in a chaotic age many managers are simply scared and therefore looking for unconventional ways for moving ahead.

In his analysis he assumes that LEGO Serious Play is just a fad that generates profits both for LEGO, for LEGO Serious Play trainers and facilitators, but for real business the workshops are largely pointless.

However, he also suggests that those types of Lego exercises might be silly and stressful to some. When some people feel that they are unable to contribute in a playful way, the playfulness might become counter-productive. Some participants of LEGO Serious Play workshops might just feel that structured play resembles them a “cult of happiness” rather than something that would provide real and tangible value to be better at work.

Find this book via Amazon: “Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us“.

In the following brief video Dan Lyons provides a brief take on LEGO Serious Play. Comment what do you think of his book and his analysis? 

1 Comment
  1. Marcin Sanecki 5 years ago

    The positiv think of this could be that some of viewers of the vlog check what the LSP really is and understand what is it for. I personally do not call LSP as one of agile methods for two reasons. The first one is the LSP is a independe t of any agile stuff. The second one is simply because the the term “agile” is missused and now many modern methods are called “agile” by default.

    I can imagine that there are plenty of so called agile coaches/transformation coaches who use Lego not for Serious Play but for fun, modeling the problems or teaching for example scrum what is very popular in organisations that develop products.

    Fact is that many organisations looks for new work aproaches and many implement playful technics to work better.Why is it possilble? Here is the answer: – Stuart Brown: Play is more than fun.

    Of coures there is lots of areas where, as the Dan Lyon says, people should just get the workd done and creative methods are not needed. If you are a project lead and need to create a project plan, risk analysis or manage you stakeholders, there is plenty of PM methods to do it. Solutions are obvious.
    But there are also challenges where the solutions are not so obvious and for such types of challenges using LSP makes sens.

    For those who did not read the Dan’s book here is a good spoiler:

    And here is a good look at the state of agile in software industry – it has become a big business.

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