What do you think when you think of Lego? Perhaps you associate the popular toy building brick with your childhood, or maybe your children or grandkids.
But these colourful little bricks are no longer confined to playrooms – they are now being used in boardrooms around the world.
Lego is increasingly being utilised in the workplace as a staff development or training tool as part of a method known as Lego Serious Play.
And it’s much more than just snapping bricks, wheels and mini figures in hard hats together.
The Lego Serious Play method is a facilitated meeting, communication and problem solving process in which participants are led through a series of questions which probe deep into the subject at hand.
Each participant builds his or her own 3D Lego model in response to the facilitator’s questions using specially selected Lego elements. These 3D models serve as a basis for group discussion, knowledge sharing, problem solving and decision making.
Typically the workshops focus on challenging issues or developing strategies. From the outside, a workshop may look like adults just playing with Lego, but the structured process elicits deep thinking, powerful storytelling, collaboration and problem solving of complex challenges that many organisations and businesses face.
Over the past two decades I’ve focused on leadership, team development and communication and am an accredited Lego Serious Play facilitator.
My experience has shown that putting a group of people in a room with a huge pile of Lego is a powerful way to enhance creativity while also providing an equal playing field for communication.
There is no hierarchy in the room with Lego.
It is ideal for team building, improving communication and strategic planning. It isn’t about an individual’s building skills, it is about developed storytelling skills. It is also fun!
Lego Serious Play was developed from the following realisation – just as the Lego group had been telling children to “build their dreams” for decades, so perhaps adults could be asked to build their visions for future strategy.
The method can be used to work on complex business issues such as developing strategy plans, resolving conflicts, forming and developing teams and working with turnaround and restructuring.
It can also be used for goal achievement and problem solving.
In team meetings, it’s an unfortunate reality that many people don’t leave with a sense of what the goals, strategy and plans are. Too much energy, ideas and opportunities are lost with the result that people feel less motivated, not involved and not taken seriously.
Lego Serious Play deals with exactly that challenge. It is a language, communication tool, and problem solving methodology based on the belief that everyone can contribute to the discussion, the decisions and the outcome.
While it may be hard to imagine serious business types in sharp suits playing with Lego, the idea is not uncommon.
Lego Serious Play has been used worldwide by major companies including Coca Cola, Daimler Chrysler, Google, Hewlett Packard, KLM, Microsoft and Nokia.
Businesses are increasingly seeking innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to meet the challenges they face, often with hands-on approaches, such as Lego Serious Play.
I have seen participants come away with skills to communicate more effectively, engage their imaginations more readily, and approach their work with increased confidence, commitment and insight.
Lego isn’t just a toy for kids or a relaxing adult weekend hobby. It can be brought into your workplace with rewarding effects.
After all, as Plato once said: “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than you can from a lifetime of conversation.”
Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.
Contact Kellie Mills on firstname.lastname@example.org