October 19 2017

LEGO Serious Play – an AFOL’s perspective.

LEGO Serious Play workshop in the UK

I came across LEGO Serious Play a while back, and it intrigued me. It would do, of course: it involves LEGO! Here is my view of LEGO Serious Play as an Adult Fan of LEGO (AFOL), and business owner.

Luckily for me, Design Network North, a network for creative and industrial designers in the North of England, offered an afternoon session with a LEGO Serious Play facilitator, and I snapped up the chance to go along.

What is LEGO Serious Play?

LEGO Serious Play (LSP) is a tool and process designed by The LEGO Group to increase innovation and business performance. LEGO Serious Play is a series of exercises – some undertaken as individuals, some as groups – designed to help inform and review a particular situation within a business. It provides a democratic experience in which people should feel comfortable to discuss a given situation.

A really important concept behind the democracy of LSP is the way in which building a model creates a focal point to discuss. With LEGO Serious Play, you don’t talk to or about a person; you talk about their model.

The level of complexity in the tasks can be varied hugely, from use as a tool for personal development – what are my “superpowers”, what’s my unused, hidden, “superpower”, and what are the barriers preventing me from using that? – to insight in to how large teams collaborate.

Is LEGO Serious Play for me?

I was shocked by how much I got out of LEGO Serious Play

I have to admit, I was very skeptical about the LEGO Serious Play workshop – I mainly signed up to play with LEGO for the afternoon, if I’m honest. I’ve attended a lot of facilitated events designed to provoke honest discussion about your business, or your personal goals, and, on the whole, they’ve been pretty poor. Many of them have felt like a colossal waste of my time.

I was shocked by how much I got out of LEGO Serious Play in just one afternoon; we did a mixture of both group and singular exercises, and the process our facilitator went through (based around the “superpower” examples above) highlighted some key areas for improvement within my own business. Using my LEGO models built to  represent the constraints and barriers within specific areas of my business opened up some really interesting points from attendees on my table.

A lot of the attendees for the session were small business owners too, and everyone on my table (another 5 people) all felt they’d been able to see a problem in their business in a new light.

So, LEGO Serious Play isn’t just adults in suits playing with LEGO bricks: I can really see its potential as a tool to provoke discussion and improvement within businesses. Highly recommended, even for skeptics!

As a final note, there’s actually quite a bit of the LEGO Serious Play process available “open source” – see the LEGO Serious Play resource here. The facilitator proved very useful in keeping things on time, and nudging attendees in a new direction if thoughts were drying up – a worthwhile investment if you’re going to commit to the process, I would imagine.