Marko has just published with Sean Blair and 9 leading international facilitators a new book on LEGO® Serious Play® method. Serious Work. How to Facilitate Meetings & Workshops Using the LEGO® Serious Play® method.
The book is a summary of 12 years of practical experience and real life testing. It introduces five most used application techniques: goal setting, team building, idea generation, values & behaviours and shared vision. provides hands-on practical road-maps on learning about LEGO® Serious Play® method and applying it to your own practice.
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is a methodology to structure discussions. People engage in group discussions that are assisted with LEGO® bricks.
People build and discuss various metaphors that describe nature of a problem and its potential future state. In case of more complex problems or issues they will be appended by a complete set of various stakeholders - the clients, the vendors, the competitors, the collaborators. After all the different agents would be mapped onto a holistic landscape the participants agree upon a set of common rules of behavior to tackle various eventualities and emergent scenarios. They agree upon norms of action in case of dealing with unexpected and derive their principles of action (simple rules) to execute their future strategy and determine their plan of action.
Marko talking about LEGO Serious Play methodology
Individual model building
Simple applications that include fun ice-breakers, setting goals, offering feedback, one-to-one mentoring or coaching, idea development, exploring behaviors and values, individual learning.
Shared model building
Creating common understanding on shared issues, e.g. shared vision, values, mission, processes. New products, services and business models. Agreeing upon goals, objectives, action plans.
Modeling systems - complex organizations and systems with multiple stakeholders, strategies, scenarios, emergencies. Model, analyze and redesign processes and systems
Strategy Discussion in a Firm
Real Time Strategy for the Enterprise
Creation of a Business Model for a Firm
Real Time Stratey for Business Model Canvas
Strategy Discussion in a Team
Real Time Strategy for the Team
Resolving Complex Problems
Real Time Strategy for the "Beast"
Formulation of a New Business IDea
Real Time Ideastorming
Formulation of Company Values
Real Time Identity for the Enterprise
Formulation of Team Values
Real Time Identity for Team
Formulation of Individual Values or Plans
Real Time Identity for You
Using LEGO Bricks at a Meeting
Real Time Discussion
Serious Play, gr. spoudaious paidzein) origins from Plato's "Politeia", where it has been described as a pleasant activity aiming to educate oneself. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is rooted in theory, published in top journals and includes numerous references to advantages to other similar types of tools and methods.
For example, at an energy firm, many groups were focusing on building comprehensive energy networks while a group only decided to build a resource mine where coal and oil shale for electricity generation were mined from. This kind of diverging view about the present created an in depth discussion about how various managers in this firm see the company present and the future.
Participating in LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® session puts your group members in a state of flow. They are engaged, happy and productive. External facilitator is trained and skilled in observing all the participants in your meeting. The facilitator makes sure that none of the participants at your session would be left behind and that all would dedicate throughout the session.
Regular discussions rely on verbal intelligence, which means that only a part of brain is active. According to popular description, in case of rational discussions, factual issues the left hemisphere takes the prevalent role. In case of creative or holistic tasks, right hemisphere takes the lead. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® also activates visual-spatial and kinesthetic learning based intelligence. As the hands link to the limbic functions of the brain as well as 90 per cent of the cortex of the brain. As a result, the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® activity is a whole-brain task. People start using more actively their subconscious and as a result, the hands start operating as if the search engines of the brain that connect the elements of the brain and create novel combinations to initiate innovative ideas or creative solutions to existing problems.
While at usual strategy discussions the strategy tools determine the direction of the discussion, e.g. SWOT analysis, 5F analysis, Balanced Scorecard, Business Model Canvas or Boston Consulting Group matrix serve as useful frameworks to guide thinking during strategy sessions, they still serve as thought frames and limit thinking of the participants. However, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® creative toolkit allows to unleash radically new aspects for understanding the present situation of the company and coming up with unconventional solutions for your existing problems. Compared to regular verbal brainstorming techniques, the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® leads to many more ideas.
During building with LEGO bricks, the important part of the task is creation of metaphors and listening to the stories of the other group members. Descriptive and illustrative language helps to remember the details much more easily than bureaucratic formulation of objectives. Theory of constructionism explains that learning occurs through building external objects. While we build the models, we also create the models in our minds.
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® equalizes discussion. While introverts normally stay in background and extroverts tend to dominate, the tactile exploration tends to be more equal. An experienced facilitator is able to share discussion between participants more equally to make sure that most people get an equal chance to participate and nobody's opinion suffers.
Strategy discussions frequently entail allocation of limited resources or clashes between strong personalities or their ideas. This could result in destructive tensions between the participatns of the discussions. Playful co-creation helps to lower the degree of those conflicts.
Furthermore, strategy discussions need to be public and honest. To address sometimes serious problems within the organization, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® simplifies addressing emotionally charged topics by dressing them in playful context. This is less frightening for the participants and helps to open them up more easily.
In the first phase, the participants practice their building skills and ability to recognize and create metaphors and stories
Thereafter your LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator gives your group a building task. E.g.: "Describe your problem today!"
All participants engage in building to respond to the task individually
Participants explain their story to the others, if necessary the others reflect on what they heard
The story will be refined, mostly with the help of additional tasks. E.g. "What are the most difficult aspects of your problem"
Participants engage in building a holistic model of their problem with all related stakeholders. They add a set of agents - e.g. clients, vendors, partners
The agents are connected to the original problem and participants analyze the linkages between the parts of the model to seek the roots of the problem
Using the model, the participants play through various future scenarios to understand how to best deal with the problem
As a result of discussions, the participants generalize their principles of action for the future to tackle the original problem
I started experimenting with LEGO® bricks in 2005 after participating in a conference where Johan Roos told about the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method. I self-educated by reading the working papers, articles and books of Imagination Lab on LEGO® - related facilitation techniques and used it at University as experiential learning tool and worked with some companies, too. In 2009 I completed full certification as a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator, delivered by Per Kristiansen and Jacqueline Lloyd Smith.
People apply LEGO Serious Play methodology at different places. Do you want to use LSP for coaching, team building, strategy work and find out how Marko's training helps you.
This website is not approved, authorised or endorsed by the LEGO Group. LEGO®, is a trademark of the LEGO Group. We respect and align with the LEGO® Serious Play® trademark guidelines. We use the LEGO® Serious Play® method described in the LEGO Group Open Source Guide made available by LEGO under a Creative Commons license ‘Attribution Share Alike’.