“Please don’t start thinking, just build your own tower using those LEGO bricks.”
Yesterday I met Carla Suijkerbuijk in a cafe with the inapplicable name ‘Thinking Cup’ at Boston Common. We talked about the method of LEGO Serious Play to help professionals being fully engaged in change processes. Like every boy I love LEGO, and I was very proud of having build the highest tower in the cafe. But why should adults go back to their childhood and play with bricks again?
What is LEGO Serious Play?
LEGO Serious Play is fun and practical method to facilitate interpersonal processes. This can be conflictmanagment, developing new concepts, etc. The facilitator gives you a lot of LEGO and for instance the assignment “Built a model that expresses an aspect of your business.”. Then you let your fingers do the hard work. You can build singular structures, but it is also possible to combine them with those of your team mates. Talking about what is build (and restructuring where needed) helps with the translation to the daily business.
The main difference with most methods is that the participants all start building together which gives the process in theory a 100% involvement (see video).
What I like about this approach is that…
… there is no manager standing with a marker before a whiteboard (selecting what he likes before writing it down). There is no direct leader, only a facilitator.
… everybody can add bricks in stead of only 20% of the team, what most of the time happens in spoken processes.
… by building the right brain becomes included in the process, which gives way for imagination. Be surprised!
… the tension of ‘being a professoinal’ is overtaken by Playfulness. This provides again room to come up with thoughts that normally wouldn’t be apropriate.
… it builds relations by building together.
… the approach is more basic then with the simular Prototyping of Theory U (my appologies if I offend somebody with making the comparison;)). Their is no meditation before the building process, and we don’t have to reflect on it in the roles of ‘magician’, ‘ king’, etc. This lowers the threshold for the more straight forward persons amung us.
Just do it
That same afternoon I had another meeting with the interesting trainer Beth Shapiro, and I asked her to do the same ‘Build your own tower’. It took us out of the ordinary and gave us new stuf to think about (she might come to the Netherlands to train at de Baak). Personally I think it doesn’t really care what materials you use (coasters, paperclips, barby dolls, etc.). You just have to have the guts to get started, because it doesn’t fit into our usual professional framework.
But ok, it is LEGO, so therefor really cool!:)