Ever sat in meetings where only 20% of participants are involved and 80% have switched off?
Do you have employees sitting back and probably thinking about their kid’s birthday party plans?
Colleagues checking their phones instead of actively working together on solving the complex problems facing your business right now?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Often teams become bogged down in the detail, slowed down by too many recurring ineffective meetings and unable to think creatively anymore. That then impacts their ability to come up with creative and innovative products and services that drive your company’s sales and growth.
If you are struggling to get your employees to collaborate and engage, then you may need to switch up your approach and bring in a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) facilitator.
Read more to find out what LSP is, how it works and how you could benefit from thinking through play.
What is LEGO Serious Play (LSP)?
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® “enables abstract thinking and advocates an open mind for unconventional solutions,” acting as a driver for business innovation.
The LSP methodology is about engaging ALL of your team, empowering them to share their views openly in a safe space and encouraging them to think innovatively.
And it’s all done by building things out of LEGO.
Participants use LEGO bricks to externalise their hidden insights about a given challenge and any feelings they have about work or the company. But it’s done without fear of criticism because people talk about LEGO and not about themselves.
LSP also works on a team level as people are encouraged to conceptualize problems and work out solutions creatively together. This LSP framework avoids group thinking and instead draws out unconscious insights. An LSP session can transform the way your teams cross-collaborate by fostering empathy and understanding across groups.
What’s Behind LEGO® Serious Play®?
It’s more than just fun and games.
Well-renowned business management academics Johan Roos and Bart Victor came up with Serious Play in the 90s as a method for developing business strategy.
The pair worked with a team of researchers at the Swiss think tank Imagination Lab Foundation to test their Serious Play methodology. Their astonishing results led them to write 3 books, 74 research papers, and 12 short articles, publishing positive results across numerous journals.
One of Roos and Victor’s hypotheses was that if you changed the constraints of the medium in which you strategized, then you would produce new ways of thinking.
LSP harnesses the principles of Flow Theory to create an optimal zone of learning that is challenging but not intimidating. It involves taking people out of their comfort zones and stretching what they think they can do while remaining in a psychologically secure environment. Across all LSP sessions “What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas!” applies.
Participants can think freely and clearly, imaginatively and with focus. However, they’re getting to this stage of deep insights by DOING not by THINKING or TALKING.
How does LEGO Serious Play activate insight and creativity?
All of those facts in your head, all the knowledge you can verbalize amounts to only 5-10% of your overall knowledge.
A stunning 90-95% of your inherent knowledge are emotions, feelings and intangible subconscious insights. To access this subconscious wealth of information inherent in any given team – you need to get away from strategizing only in traditional 2D formats and actively use your hands: aka by getting “hands-on bricks”.
A workshop with a LEGO Serious Play facilitator helps you to access all of those subconscious insights, and apply them to your work context and challenges.
The bricks not only help participants to conceptualise problems in a tangible 3D format, but they go beyond thinking and draw out unconscious insights by simply doing. Using bricks as metaphors also helps to externalise any feelings or insights about work or the company that could otherwise not be voiced. Coupled with the workshop’s focus on the LEGO models and not on ‘who said what,’means that people are more willing to express themselves without fear of criticism.
What does a LEGO Serious Play Facilitator do?
An LSP facilitator encourages creative thinking and cross-team collaboration by leading the group through a structured workshop, where each activity always follows the same 4 part format that quickly becomes natural to the group:
- Question – A challenge is posed to the group, framed in open questions.
- Construction – Individuals respond by building LEGO models that represent their solutions to the challenge.
- Sharing – Each participant explains their model back to the group.
- Reflection – The group reflects together. Everyone is involved and all ideas are laid bare on the table!
One of the challenges that the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator may pose is for the team to build a model of their organization together.
For example, how do the sales, marketing, communication, product and devs team believe their individual departments are connected up and function together?
Spoiler alert: not everyone will see it the same way! The results can be very revealing of where you need to improve cross-team communication and work processes. The model you build together and the discussions it sparks will help you to get everyone on the same page about what your organization actually does and how it functions internally.
Is LEGO Serious Play beneficial for large organisations?
Yes. Especially where you may have siloed thinking or people whose voices are not being heard.
Serious play offers multiple benefits to your organisation including:
- Getting to the crucial bits of information with speed & depth
- Encouraging 100-100 meetings with every participant involved
- Improving communication between different departments
- Refining your company strategy or building guiding principles
- Re-energising your workforce or leadership team
- Increasing cross-team collaboration
- Improving creativity and innovation
- Revealing subconscious in-house insights
LSP methodology can also help you work on strategy, or even develop principles for your leadership team so they can be better prepared for this VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) and lead from their collective principles that outlast any change or deviation from strategy.
Will LEGO Serious Play work for start-ups?
A LEGO Serious Play facilitator can help startups get a grip on their strategy. Sessions can help by conceptualising their organisation in a tangible model and discussing the challenges it faces in an inclusive, safe and playful setting.
It’s also great for engaging employees around the company vision or solidifying team identities. Maybe you’ve grown really quickly and haven’t had time to consolidate your teams or work on cross-collaboration.
A LEGO Serious Play session could help.
So if you want to shake things up by making work fun again, and jumpstart your team’s collaborative and innovative thinking, then try LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. Make sure you select a certified LEGO Serious Play facilitator who can guide you through the process and help you make the most of the session.
As a UX strategy consultant and LEGO Serious Play facilitator, I offer LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® sessions across Germany (primarily covering the North).
About UX, my dear
At UX, my dear, we apply a human-centred approach to everything that we do – from cross-team collaboration to intuitive design. If you are looking for wider strategy support, UX consultation, or workshop design, then book a free 30-minute consultation with me here.