Exploring Millennials and Babyboomers with LSP

February 23, 2017 in Serious Play Case Studies

This post first appeared in blog here.

Millennials are a cool topic. Marketing and research companies are trying to figure out who are these Millennials and how will they affect and influence the world and the practices we apply today.

As a GenX, everything I read made sense to me and did not fully grasp the real differences between Millennials and BabyBoomers until I had the opportunity to directly compare the ways of thinking, the value systems, attitudes, and mental models, of Millennials and Baby Boomers.

The opportunity came when I facilitated few workshops to explore how customers feel about brands and their experience as consumers and shoppers.

I decided to run the workshop using Lego Serious Play, a facilitation method that asks participants to build metaphorical models with Lego bricks to answer specific challenges and questions.

The method is based on narratives and storytelling, and participants are the only one who hold the interpretative keys to decode the metaphors and stories locked in their model. After building their model, participants share their stories and models with everyone, explaining the meaning of their models and sharing their views and perspectives on the issues I was investigating.

The groups I facilitated were quite polarised: one was heavily dominated by BabyBoomers, the other was composed mostly by Millennials.

All conditions for the workshops were equal: the script, the wording, the challenges, the questions, the facilitator, and the room. Yet, something was extremely different and it did not take long to understand how the different value system of these two generations was influencing the narratives.

The very first thing that emerged is that Millennials are unable to relate to commercial brands. I read about it. But hearing it, made the point clearer:

Candidly one participant said: “Maybe few years ago I could be able to mention brands I admired and appreciated, but today… there is no brand I respect or that embodies the values I stand for”.

Millennials were not into naming any particular commercial brand, they were beyond: they looked at values that matter to them, like life, earth, equality, and a collective sense of belonging. They name organisations, but these are organisations that portray and embody the values Millennials stand for, like WWF.

On the other hand, BabyBoomers had no issue in mentioning commercial brands and they were heavily focused on companies that make their life easier through reducing hassle and offering easy way to carry out tasks they have to.

BabyBoomers have clear ideas: they value convenience and comfort above anything else.

While Babyboomers focus on themselves, Millennials focus on the bigger picture and how they can support the system. Millennials think as a collective unity looking forward the future, whereas Babyboomers seem imbued with their personal and individual present time.

Things become more evident when I asked participants to build a model of their current experience with a specific service: Babyboomers focused on something I would have never thought about: queues!

The workshop was exploring services that are delivered both digitally and physically, online and in store: Babyboomers neglected all aspects related to digital and focused on the discomfort they experience when queueing up before being served in store.

The queue theme, which emerged spontaneously and independently in several models build by different participants, was a constant element that represented a core element of the Babyboomer’s narrative relate to the service. The other element that emerged to be key for BabyBoomers was the social aspects and the importance to have people in the store : they were candid in admitting that they expect people and they expect to be served by a person and fast. Babyboomers are spolied and expect everything to be designed around their convenience. It seems a pretty key concept when talking about CX, but this should not be a generalisation.

In fact Millennials had no issue with queues or the physical experience. Their problem was ethics in a broader and more value oriented framework.

Most Millennials build models and used narratives that highlighted ethical and social issues, like poverty or inequality, that can emerge as a consequence of the service.

Millennials did not question or mention comfort or convenience, they were genuinely concerned about the potential impact of the service on the global collectivity they are part of. They started with very radical positions and moved from a critical to a constructive vision of the future, imagining the service and opportunities opened by a new socially sustainable approaches. The conversation turned highly philosophical and intriguing and most of the participants provided great insights on an ethical future.

BabyBoomers’ conversations did not evolve much: they kept being focused on the queues and their need to get more attention and being served better. They started complaining and ended, more or less, complaining.

BabyBoomers proved to be mostly individualistic and inward looking, focusing mostly on their own comfort and condition. But on the other hand, Millennials proved to have overcome the paradigm of individuality to embrace the best of globalisation, in the sense of a global ethical consciousness and the shared consciousness of being responsible for our present and future.

What does this mean for brands?

It means that the current paradigm we are building the whole Customer Experience theories and practices needs to be flexible and fluid to embrace the emerging value based paradigm that Millennials are bringing on the table.

These two generations are coexisting in today’s world, and so do their different value systems. For CX professionals the challenge is to combine ethical values into an individualistic experience, starting a shift towards a more holistic view to embrace the Millennials’ perspective while continue spoiling BabyBoomers.

The Mission and visions that worked as principles until today, will become obsolete fast if they do not acknowledge and adapt to the new framework that is emerging with GenY.

The rules of CX are going to change and will change fast.

Patrizia Bertini Shows LEGO SERIOUS PLAY and Creative Tools for Experience Design

May 17, 2015 in Serious Play Videos

As designers take on more complex challenges of creating digital experiences spanning multiple touchpoints, from smartwatches to TVs, Patrizia Bertini (@Legoviews) asks how the structure and methods of design teams must evolve. This hour long session sees Patrizia simultaneously conduct a Lego Serious Play workshop while explaining how its techniques could help design teams better understand user behaviour and translate that knowledge into more effective digital experiences.

Recorded at MEX, March 2015 (pmn.co.uk/mex/)

Experiencing LSP: the point of view of a participant

June 12, 2014 in About Lego Serious Play

strategy_b4bricksI recently had the pleasure of facilitating a LEGO SeriousPlay workshop at Hot Source. One of the participant, Marek Pawlowski, shared his experience.

As a facilitator, used to describe the method, it was refreshing and an immense pleasure to know that he experienced exactly what I always described when I talk about the power and benefits of LSP. Thank you @Marek for such an amazing post!

Improvement requires change, whether that happens gradually through iteration or in big leaps through sudden sparks of creativity. This is true of improving anything, from companies to individual products. It’s something I think about a lot in the context of the MEX initiative, which is, at its heart, about helping people to improve digital experiences. We are always looking for new ways to equip people to make good changes to the user experience of the products they’re designing.

The difficult part is that ‘improvement’ is very subjective. Realistically, you can only ever hope the changes you make will ‘improve’ things for most of your users. There simply is no such thing as an improvement which is objectively better for everyone.

However, the application of objective processes to achieve a creative result can help increase the chance your subjective improvements will be applicable to the largest possible number of users. This is why we try different techniques at MEX events, from physical exercises – like thinking about how the movements most natural to your body might transpose into digital interfaces – to low-fi, fast-paced model making.

While I’ve organised many of these different facilitations over the years, I was intrigued by the opportunity to be participant for a change, and in an exercise I’d never tried before, using Lego for serious play, facilitated by Patrizia Bertini (@legoviews). It was hosted by UX agency Foolproof (@foolproof_ux) and organised by Hot Source(@hsnorwich), a networking group in Norwich, UK (for our international readers: a small city in the East of the country – the significance of which will become apparent later). Read the rest of this entry →

LEGO Serious Play & Co-creation

May 19, 2014 in Serious Play Discussion

Ramaswamy Gouillart (2010) The Power of Co-Creation

Ramaswamy Gouillart (2010) The Power of Co-Creation

Lego Serious Play is a facilitation method that was designed in ways to enhance business performance by bringing around the table key stakeholders and by facilitating the discussion and meaning sharing activities through the use of LEGO bricks, metaphors and storytelling.

LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is a method that allows participants to negotiate decisions and strategic and operative plans and to co-create ideas creatively, socially and interactively. Thanks to the peculiar collaborative and social dynamics enacted by the method, all participants in an LSP workshop contribute to the discussion and to the decisions. The LEGO bricks act as co-creation tool and as a communication mediator: bricks are both a media to build and express complex ideas through storytelling and metaphors, and bricks act as a mediator between participants, allowing people to overcome hierarchies and power games that often affect workshop like activities and co-creation initiatives.

LSP stems from constructionist theories developed in the ’70s by Seymour Papert, who was among the first ones to adopt LEGO bricks as a learning tool in education, capitalising on the strict relationship between hands and the brain: it is well-know that hands are connected to between 70-80% of our brain cells, which means that through the exploitation of this neural connection people can learn and think more and in more creative ways by connecting their hands with their brain and by constructing something material.

These principles have been then elaborated further in the ‘90s by two professors at the IMD in Geneve (Switzerland), prof. J. Roos and prof. B. Viktor and formalised in its current form by Robert Rasmussen, at that time the director of product development for the educational market at LEGO and ever since has been adopted in various organisational contexts.

LSP in generally used within organisational contexts to improve collaboration, brainstorm on new concepts, analyse the context, building a metaphorical model of the organisation or the problem the organisation is facing, analysing how department are connected and tests scenarios. But LSP can be effectively used also to develop new ideas and concepts where different perspectives and different needs and approaches can meet and merge, bringing to light new insights and where participants can collaboratively work together to find a win-win solution that can lead innovation.

LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® enacts a collaborative and creative process, encouraging creative thinking and sharing of values and meanings. This allows a constructive discussion where participants negotiate and share ideas and literally build new ideas together by building individual and shared LEGO models.

In a word, LSP naturally enhances co-creation.

Co-creation is a buzz word in today’s business literature and different people means different things by the same word. There are several definitions out there and it’s not the scope of this article to dig into the definitions. For the purpose of this article, let’s take Francis Gouillart’s definition that says that “The idea of co-creation is to unleash the creative energy of many people, such that it transforms both their individual experience and the economics of the organization that enabled it.” (Francis Gouillart, 2010).
Read the rest of this entry →

LegoView interviewing technique

June 21, 2013 in Serious Play Case Studies

I have improved again the LegoView interviewing technique, with few tricks, and this is what I got an amazing and thought-provoking lego interview!

Harkness Table and LSP: Differences and similarities

February 11, 2013 in Serious Play Discussion

Harkness Table

The Harkness Table

I was reflecting on my experience with architecture students at University of Ferrara and LEGO SERIOUS PLAY. [See the video]

I find amazing how students who did not have any clue about the content and the goals of the workshop engaged in the discussion and raised a number of enlightening ideas about Heritage. They were not asked, neither provided, any books or papers to read, the idea was to understand how a bunch of students in their early-twenties could theorise and think about Heritage independently, critically andcollectively.

So, in my research about educative approaches that capitalise on collaboration and collaborative meaning-making, I’ve found about the Harkness Table. For those who are not familiar with it, this is an educative approach introduced in 1931 when Edward Harkness, a philanthropist, challenged Exeter University asking them to innovate education and provided them with an oval table. The idea behind the table, which was meant to allow 12/15 students to sit around together with their teacher, was to create a different approach to education where students were seen as a team and could be encouraged to take part to a discussion, interact and learn about collaborative practices, by reducing the influence of the teacher.

The idea of a class as a team  that capitalises on teamwork and encourages interaction among students in a free environment sounded a pretty close approach to that I adopted. The Harkness Table focuses a lot on these concepts, and I’ve found it thrilling. Though the more I read about it, the more the differences emerged.

Read the rest of this entry →

An LSP workshop with Architects-to-be

December 31, 2012 in Serious Play Videos

Architects and Heritage: a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Workshop

The Video is a clip taken from one of the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY workshop I run at the University of Ferrara, Faculty of Architecture in November 2012.

Students taking part to the workshop are currently working on a course project on Heritage; their main focus is Ahmedabad Heritage Walk (India). The aim of the workshop was to create a team out of the group of individuals working together and to lay the foundations for their collective work. To achieve this students engaged in a classic LSP workshop: they were first asked to define what Heritage is by building an individual LEGO model of their personal concept. Each student built their own vision and shared it with others. Sharing individual models and ideas let differences emerge: it came out that though they were all working and researching around the same topic, their individual perceptions, their focus, their ideas were very different: some students focused on the time dimension, others have seen heritage as coming from a relationship between present and past, others have highlighted the confusion and chaotic dimension related to the idea of Heritage, and others focused on the subjects who perceive, define and socially construct the concept of Heritage.

A number of bright ideas had been discussed by the students in the three hours length workshop and at the end they were asked to build a shared model: after each of them presented their personal idea, after discussing and investigating the individual models, the group was asked to become a team by building a single shared model.

Students have taken their individual models, have negotiated their visions, their ideas, their concepts and they come out with a new model. The new model is simply a shared knowledge literally constructed and agreed by all participants and that final model represents the new roadmap of their project.

A big thank you to the Faculty of Architecture at University of Ferrara, to the professors and students who allowed this experience and who engaged in this experience.

[Source: www.legoviews.com]

Architects’ challenge: Building ideas with LEGO bricks!

December 19, 2012 in Serious Play Case Studies

Ville Savoy (Le Corbusier) realised with LEGO Architecture

Ville Savoy (Le Corbusier) realised with LEGO Architecture

LEGO bricks to discover more about architecture and about architects’ mind and perception of reality. [from: Paesaggio Urbano 5-6/2012]

The relation between LEGO and Architecture is a longstanding one: as a response to the increasing attention to modern architecture in early 1960s, LEGO developed Scale LEGO with the ambition that architects and engineers would attempt scaling their models using LEGO.

But the relationship between Architecture and LEGO can go far beyond this historical link created by LEGO itself and it comes from a creative approach based on constructionist theories which have been developed in the 60s by Seymur Papert. Papert was among the first ones to adopt LEGO bricks as a learning tool in education and he capitalised on the strict relationship between hands and brain: it is well-know that hands are connected to between 70-80% of our brain cells, which means that through the exploitation of this neural connection people can learn and think more and in more creative ways by connecting their hands with their brain and by constructing something material. This is the assumption which lead in late ‘90s to the development of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY [LSP] a method used in organisations to help people to think, share ideas and creating teams, solve problems and define organisational strategies.

Read the rest of this entry →

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