LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® – How playing at work gives everyone a voice – by Mary Eden
I was recently lucky enough to sit in on a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) workshop with our Managing Director, Mat East – a certified Lego Serious Play facilitator.
Eight people sat around the table, each with a pile of plastic bricks. This immediately took me back to my childhood and hours spent building imaginary worlds. But I was intrigued how this could be used in a serious way to aid business development.
Mat had customised the workshop around the company’s specific needs. Based on this he posed a few carefully-chosen questions to the participants.
He then asked each person to use their hands and build their own model in response to the questions. The Lego brick becomes the metaphor, it becomes the language. Every single LEGO piece has a meaning to the model builder, enabling them to symbolise their thoughts and opinions in a safe environment.
Each person was then asked to share their creation with the rest of the group – and this is when the magic happened…
The model builder had to explain every element of their model. There is no worry about not knowing what to say or forgetting details – as all the info is there in front of their eyes. The other members of the group seemed to quickly grasp the model builder’s intent by watching, listening and then questioning.
As the focus is on the bricks not on the person, people were able to freely communicate their ideas and express their views. It was as though the use of their childhood toys had enabled them to step out of their ‘professional’ demeanour and use their imaginations to think creatively.
In a traditional brainstorming session there are usually a few people who are naturally very outspoken, while others will sit back and say nothing. Maybe due to a fear they cannot articulate their thoughts, or simply that they haven’t had enough time to process the questions thoroughly and come up with an adequate response.
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® completely overcomes this – everyone builds, everyone talks, everyone shares and more importantly everyone is heard.
This particular group consisted of many different levels including an intern and the CEO! Yet everyone participated equally. Title or position had absolutely no bearing on how seriously their point of view was perceived.
Each person became a part of the decision making process.
At the end of the session the team had gained a clearer understanding from an organisational point of view of what the issues were and what steps needed to be taken next.
On an individual level the participants were visibly energised – they had been given a chance to be involved with a scenario, their opinions had been heard and they had contributed towards the outcome.
Mary Eden is the Marketing Communications & Events Director for Sparks International Training.