Lego Serious Play – Next 10 Years

June 23, 2020 in Serious Play Discussion

Presentation at the LSP Connect event on 23 June 2020 on the future scenario building

Either download the slides directly here (PDF, 5MB). Or view them via Slideshare.net:

SeriousPlayPro Forum and Slack Channel

June 23, 2020 in Serious Play Discussion

If you wish to ask any questions about LEGO Serious Play methodology then the fastest ways are to either register here at the SeriousPlayPro.com/register and post your question in the discussion forum or enter the Slack Group to say hi

Mastering the Lego Serious Play Method - 44 Facilitation Techniques for Trained LEGO Serious Play Facilitators

New Book: Mastering the LEGO Serious Play

March 6, 2020 in Serious Play Library

Sean Blair just published his second book on facilitating with LEGO Serious Play, which is targeted towards somewhat more experienced facilitators. The title of the book is: Mastering the LEGO Serious Play Method: 44 Facilitation Techniques for Trained LEGO Serious Play Facilitators

Sean Blair is one of the most experienced facilitators who also runs his successful facilitator training business Serious Work. We co authored 4 years ago the book Serious Work. How to Facilitate Meetings and Workshops with LEGO Serious Play method.

I have read this book and as Sean kindly asked me to write the foreword then I have also published it here for our community members.

Mastering the LEGO Serious Play Method – the Foreword

About five years ago, via SeriousPlayPro.com, Sean reached out asking for help on a workshop challenge he faced. He was already a very experienced and acclaimed facilitator who had recently added LEGO Serious Play to his toolset.

Sean said in our first Skype conversation: “I have this important workshop coming up with 300 people where I want to use LEGO Serious Play, but I am not sure it would work out, as I only have an hour…”

Sean had completed a full 4-day training on LEGO Serious Play and while he had witnessed a master trainer talking about facilitation, he did not get an opportunity to practice.

We discussed his upcoming workshop, I made some suggestions and I told him to go for it, I knew it would be great! Sean did, and indeed – the event delivered great outcomes.

Since then we became friends and exchanged our professional experience on various LEGO Serious Play projects. About a year later this ping-pong of ideas resulted in a book titled “SERIOUSWORK, How to Facilitate Meetings & Workshops Using the LEGO Serious Play Method.”

I am glad to see that while LEGO Serious Play methodology is already two decades old – to date, the SERIOUSWORK book has remained the only hands-on publication to help the newcomer get started with the LEGO Serious Play method. SERIOUSWORK would not have been possible without Sean’s great ideas, relentless enthusiasm to write handful of pages every day and his good eye for design.

In addition to his daily work as a facilitator and trainer, Sean has constantly been an avid community builder. He was the first person to initiate the LEGO Serious Play MeetUps where he started sharing his experience. I admire his ability to produce case studies of previous workshops in blogs and social media.

It is lovely to see that no more than four years since our first book, he has topped up his energy to summarize a batch of clever lessons to kindly share his wisdom in another volume that you are holding in your hands.

What is Interesting in Mastering LEGO Serious Play?

The first book, SERIOUSWORK, focused on simple LEGO Serious Play workshops. However, the life of a facilitator is never simple. Every facilitation situation is new. Facilitators need to be mindful about updating their skills, about reflecting their personality and about adapting their presence. Therefore, the journey towards facilitation mastery never ends.

Sean has now untangled some of those complexities in the book that you are holding in your hands. There are three things that fascinate me about “Mastering the LEGO Serious Play Method” book.

First, the attention to the consistency of workshop design. In an age where bad meetings are commonplace, it is truly refreshing that Sean emphasizes the need to build strong internal logic and linkages between workshop objectives, build questions, reflection questions and workshop outputs. Tying all four elements closely together is a way of ensuring that meetings will be productive.

Sam Kaner is writing about “Groan Zone” in his book Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision Making

Second, I like the section in this book where he explains LEGO Serious Play Build Level 2: Shared Model building. Working on shared model creation is a messy process. Or as facilitation guru Sam Kaner has called it: facilitating through “the groan zone”. Part of shared model building is where participants attempt to understand each other to find common ground. Part of it is where they generate new ideas.

Given the conflicting goals in this part of the workshop, shared model building is frequently frustrating for the participants and challenging for the facilitator. Sean has suggested several practical ideas on how to make the process more manageable.

Third, facilitators are often recruited for results. This may create a role conflict where they become too forceful to get to results. This is a good reminder for most facilitators – to facilitate people rather than to facilitate the process.

Sean has listed several useful tips on how to take it easy and stay “clean” as a facilitator by acting more like a conductor of the orchestra, who is not attempting to play all the instruments.

I love the passion for facilitation that Sean shows throughout this book. I am certain that by reviewing his tips from time to time, every seasoned LEGO Serious Play professional can remind themselves on how to truly progress towards mastery of their skill.

Mastering the Lego Serious Play Method - 44 Facilitation Techniques for Trained LEGO Serious Play Facilitators

You may buy the book via Amazon

Driving Organizational Readiness for Change through Strategic Workshops

New LSP Research Article by Roos & Nilsson

March 2, 2020 in Serious Play Discussion

Johan Roos and Victor Nilsson have just published a survey based academic article that is probably of interest to many LEGO Serious Play facililitators because they recently got in touch with many of us asking for our permission to run some impartial surveys among the participants that had recently attended our meetings or workshops using LEGO Serious Play method.

The title of the article is “Driving Organizational Readiness for Change through Strategic Workshops” and it is now available via International Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 1-28. https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.71.20-001

The Abstract

Change initiatives in organizations often fail because people are neither committed to nor convinced they can implement the change successfully. The change challenge is a practical problem for most leaders. The vast literature on change management offers insights into obstacles to change and how to overcome them, and the emerging literature on readiness for change offers a plethora of instruments for how to assess it, though primarily in health care settings. However, there is limited advice about how to design workshops around new initiatives in organizations to increase readiness for change. To address this problem, we developed a model of the drivers of change readiness, based on survey data from 374 participants in 69 independently facilitated workshops to test hypotheses. The findings show which constructs have the most predictive power. These results have important implications for how to design and facilitate workshops that increase participants’ readiness for change. The study makes several contributions to the theory and practice of creating shared readiness for change.

Read the full article directly via IJMAR

Lego for University Learning by Chrissi Nerantzi and Alison James

Using LEGO Serious Play at Universities

October 21, 2019 in Serious Play Discussion

Chrissi Nerantzi and Alison James wrote this booklet on “LEGO® for university learning: Inspiring academic practice in higher education”

This booklet is available as an open source guidebook that you can download here for free:

Download Brochure Using LEGO For University Learning (PDF)

Both Alison and Chrissi have been long time users of LEGO Serious Play methodology in academic setting and they also have been prolific writers describing their experience in this field extensively. Let me just point out three interesting sources that I have looked at.

Power of Play in Higher Education

The most interesting has been the book The Power of Play in Higher Education – Creativity in Tertiary Learning, which was a serious endeavour on 359 pages. It had 39 different articles ranging from using tabletop games, playful writing and poetry, theatrical games. There are 3 articles that also focus on the use of LEGO and LEGO Serious Play methodology:

  • Our Learning Journey with LEGO® by James, Alison (et al.) – Pages 239-242
  • Using LEGO® to Explore ‘Professional Love’ as an Element of Youth Work Practice—Opportunities and Obstacles by Purcell, Martin E. – Pages 243-245
  • Creating LEGO® Representations of Theory by Simmons, Nicola – Pages 247-249

which is available via Amazon: The Power of Play in Higher Education: Creativity in Tertiary Learning

Engaging Imagination

Another book that Alison James wrote together with Stephen Brookfield was Engaging Imagination – helping students become creative and reflective thinkers.

Many years ago I wrote this blog post to summarize her earlier work: Lego Serious Play: a Three-Dimensional Approach to Learning Development.

IJMAR issue on LEGO Serious Play

Alison and Chrissi also have published an IJMAR special issue on LEGO Serious Play: https://seriousplaypro.com/2019/01/06/lsp-research-special-issue/ In this release, they have invited a number of scholars to describe their use cases of LEGO Serious Play in research practice.

User Requirements with LEGO

June 26, 2019 in Serious Play Discussion

This very useful material was prepared by Lorenzo Cantoni, Marco Faré and Elisabetta Frick of Università della Svizzera italiana (University of Lugano, Switzerland) in May 2011 and it was uploaded to the webatelier.net website, which sadly no longer functions. Since the document was originally published as Open Source, I have made it freely available here.

URL – User Requirements with LEGO from Marko Rillo

Dan Lyons Critical Speech on LSP at RSA

May 15, 2019 in Serious Play Discussion

Dan Lyons has held a critical speech on LEGO Serious Play methodology at RSA event: “Why Modern Work Makes Us Miserable | Dan Lyons | RSA Replay”. The talk starts at 12:55

LEGO Serious Play workshop

Finding Work as a LEGO Serious Play Facilitator

April 12, 2019 in Serious Play Discussion

How to increase your success in finding new LEGO Serious Play clients? How to improve your chance in winning proposals?

In this blog post you will learn how to spell out your unique sales proposition in just three steps. It is a 10-minute exercise that can help you to get your focus sharper and increase your likelihood of finding work assignments that you love. I will write about the magic 3-letter marketing word “USP” – your Unique Selling Proposition.


One of the most frequent question that people have asked the SeriousPlayPro community members is about finding new sales leads. But how to be successful? Yesterday I got this question:

I’m still a beginner in LSP, and so far I have used LSP mainly in short workshops for problem solving at the place where I work. I love the LSP method and would like to start building this as a business. I find it difficult to start marketing my services. How should I start?

J.D.

Starting with sales and marketing just requires a new set of simple skills and tools. To address those questions I have decided to start with a new series of articles that will focus on:

Lego Serious Play Sales and Marketing Tips

In the first post of the series I suggest a simple first step in increasing your success rate in attracting new clients and nailing winning proposals by formulating your unique sales proposition.

Your Unique Sales Proposition

Most LSP facilitators market themselves as a “Certified facilitator of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method and materials” with proper capitalization and (R)-symbols in correct places. This is just like LEGO Serious Play Trademark Guidelines has asked you to do. Well done – you are following the rules of the LEGO Group.

However, for marketing this is not enough. For any business to catch attention of your client you need to identify two things:

  1. What the client is looking for and
  2. What sets you apart among other facilitators.

The best strategy is the one that combines the two. You need to find the match between the opportunities on the market (what jobs the clients hire) and your own strengths (where you can offer the most value).

Finding your Unique Sales Proposition - Infographic © CreaWity Marko Rillo

Step 1 – Jobs that Clients Need

Your client is looking for “jobs to be done”. Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen suggested in his book Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice: “Customers don’t simply buy products or services; they “hire” them to do a particular job.”

If you want to hang a painting to a wall you might first think that you need a hammer and a nail. But this is tool-based thinking. Maybe you can skip nailing altogether. Perhaps a strong double-sided tape will do. Or a set of special hooks and wires. Or you can delegate this entire task to a maintenance person and not to worry about the tools and technique at all. Any of these options would do the job of hanging the painting for you.

Likewise, your client will not need a LSP facilitator. You as a facilitator are just one potential tools to solve their problem. Therefore – you need to ask the client – what is the problem that client actually has. And this will help you understand – what job does this client would hire you for?

Perhaps it is entertainment – if their employees have had a rough year and would like to use LEGO bricks to have fun together? Maybe they have a tough problem to solve and they have heard that LSP is great for tackling complex issues?

There are many possibilities. Ideally you can ask your clients. If there is nobody to ask then go ahead and check the SeriousPlayPro facilitator marketplace for recent job posts. Some of them might be relevant to you. What would be the jobs for what your customers would engage you? Do they need a new set of goals and values? New strategy? New knowledge? Achieve greater alignment? Resolve conflicts? Choose 1-3 of the jobs that have been the most frequent and write them down.

This short list of customer jobs will serve as your list of main market opportunities.

Step 2 – Your Strongest Capability

How are you different from other facilitators? There are thousands of people who have trained as LSP facilitators. Some of them are really good in solutions focused coaching, others have 10 years of experience as scrum masters. Some have particular industry background – retail, banking, telco. Some have worked in a particular cultural or geographic context.

Write down another short list of qualities that you think make you stand out in the crowd of all LEGO Serious Play facilitators. Try to include in your list some keywords about your 1) knowledge, 2) skills, 3) experiences, and 4) qualities. You may use my list as a source of inspiration.

Capability list example © CreaWity - Marko Rillo

Be honest. Once you have compiled your list then feel free to cross out some items that you think are not so useful for your clients and which do not show your best side. Also – highlight those what seem the most important for the client.

Those final 3-5 items will serve as something that will make you stand out. These are your strengths.

Step 3 – Your Sales Proposition

Put your two lists: market opportunities and your strengths side by side. Draw linkages between the two lists and try to identify what is it that you can promise to your customers.

Ideally the sales proposition is a single sentence and help your client to understand: “When I buy the service from … (your name) – this is the benefit that I will receive to get my job done.” For example, the client might say using my example:

“Marko will help us identify new business models in telco using his ability to look at big picture and engage people.”

My example of Unique Sales Proposition

Now – once you have identified your first rough unique sales proposition idea then feel free to post your draft below this post. It is likely that you need to refine it several times. I would be happy to comment it and help to improve it. If you prefer a private answer then just send me an e-mail to the contacts you can find on my profile page.

Getting your unique sales proposition sentence right is just a first step in your facilitator sales and marketing journey. Stay tuned for the next post.

Using LEGO Serious Play for Software Engineering

March 1, 2019 in Serious Play Discussion

Stan Kurkovski has created a set of different instructions, tools and videos to apply LEGO Serious Play methodology to software engineering. Check out his website here.

The videos of LEGO Serious Play methodology with Software Engineering Students

The first video introduces the students to LEGO Serious Play methodology using the basic LEGO Serious Play skills building tools: technical skills, story telling skills and metaphor skills.

Thereafter the next video explains the students on how to use LEGO Serious Play methodology for requirements engineering for the actors:

The third video focuses on eliciting and analysis of user requirements:

The fourth video explains on creating software architecture using LEGO Serious Play methodology:

The fifth and final video explains the use of LEGO Serious Play for software processes:


LEGO Serious Play Application Techniques for Software Engineering

The website that Stan Kurkovsky has created also features a number of LEGO Serious Play application techniques with detailed roadmaps that include material requirements, process suggestions regarding timing:

Underlying to this approach is Stan’s interesting White Paper on “Teaching Software Engineering with LEGO Serious Play” If you are interested in learning more about his approach then go to the site on LEGO Serious Play for Software Engineering


The Power of Play in Higher Education: Creativity in Tertiary Learning

February 28, 2019 in Serious Play Library

Alison James and Chrissi Nerantzi have combined their efforts to release an interesting new research book which tells the story of using playful tools in higher education.

Their book is a serious endeavour on 359 pages. It has 39 different articles ranging from using tabletop games, playful writing and poetry, theatrical games. There are 3 articles that also focus on the use of LEGO and LEGO Serious Play methodology.

  • Our Learning Journey with LEGO® by James, Alison (et al.) – Pages 239-242
  • Using LEGO® to Explore ‘Professional Love’ as an Element of Youth Work Practice—Opportunities and Obstacles by Purcell, Martin E. – Pages 243-245
  • Creating LEGO® Representations of Theory by Simmons, Nicola – Pages 247-249

Get your copy via Amazon: The Power of Play in Higher Education: Creativity in Tertiary Learning

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