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Virtual LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® – Is Online Shared Model Building possible?

The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® community is blessed with innovators (like the people who created this wonderful method) and hard core traditionalists (the ones who say 'no' quite often). So this blog post asks a contentious question:

Is Online Shared Model Building possible?

The answer is YES, and actually the experience and outcome is better than you might think.

The shared model building process differs in some important ways from face-to-face-in-the-same-room shared model building, and has its challenges as well as surprising opportunities. Yet, if a facilitator has the right mindset, has practiced the new techniques that online shared model building requires, and is well prepared before the workshop, the results can be as good as in the “real” world.


New Mindsets Needed

Some LEGO Serious Play traditionalists have recently written that online LEGO Serious Play cannot be learnt online because it lacks the tactile element. But this challenge can be overcome by new techniques that combine physical use of bricks with clever use of online-collaboration-tools. How do we know new mindsets are needed? Because if you had asked us a month ago, if Online LEGO Serious Play was possible we would have said no. But it turns out we were wrong too.

A group building a shared model online


A shared model built online by the group pictured above


Our business was born by embracing constraints

Can we be honest for a moment?

Four years ago, when we launched our book SERIOUSWORK, we unwittingly upset one of the authors of the other main book about LEGO Serious Play. When we came to develop our own training we knew this would be seen as controversial move in the LEGO Serious Play community.

And like every participant who were trained by the traditional school, we signed an agreement on the first day of our training agreeing not to use others Intellectual Property. We have honoured that agreement, and as it turns out, the limits and constraints of that agreement was one of the greatest gifts of being trained by the original method.



Constraints and limits are rocket fuel for innovation. We turned the 'master / trainee' model on its head three years ago and pioneered practice-based learning in LEGO Serious Play, and today we are embracing the constraints Covid-19 demands to create another innovation in LEGO Serious Play - online facilitation and training.


Masters of change, use change, to create change

Covid-19 has changed traditional ways of working. And for a while, face-to-face meetings are out. But now, more than ever, people working-from-home, need to meet in ways that facilitate human-to-human connection and support people to make sense of this new reality. People need effective ways to imagine what next, to rebuild careers, products and services in the hugely challenging times we are in.


Harness disruption to innovate even better solutions

So when disruption comes along, this can be seen as an opportunity or a threat. History is full of examples of organistions that created change, adapted to change or fell by the way unable to adapt to change.

Uber change the taxi market, AirBnB changed the hotel market, Amazon changed the high street, the list is long.


Online facilitation and training

Just as our second book, MASTERING The LEGO Serious Play Method (ironically launched in March 2020, the same month that Covid-19 put half the world on some form of lockdown), sought to pass on techniques for professional facilitation of LEGO Serious Play in face-to-face settings, our new book How to Facilitate The LEGO Serious Play Method ONLINE and training will seek to pass on all that we know, with the spirit of sharing that is defining our new age.

Sean Blair & Jens Droge

After LEGO Serious Play Faciliation Training - SeriousWork Graduates

We recently asked some of our graduates to tell us what they had done after training, here is what they said... :)


MASTERING THE LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® METHOD 44. Facilitation Techniques for Trained LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitators

We are happy to announce our latest book :)

Mastering the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method is 180 page full colour book and will help LEGO® Serious Play® facilitators plan and deliver professional workshops. It has 44 detailed facilitation techniques from master trainer Sean Blair. The book also outlines 20 graduates stories of what happened after their training, where they now use the method, and their tips lessons learnt.

See or download a 58 page preview of the books contents on the books own webpage.

It is availble in print from Amazon.

Remembering meaning - 5 years later...

The official LEGO website has been going through an update of late, and we noticed last week that they have also updated the LEGO Serious Play section... so it's lovely to see they have used a photo taken by SeriousWork founder Sean Blair.

The image shows a facilitator standing on top of a well designed process (the orange section of the wall), unlocking the wisdom of a group (the Owl on the collective brain Orb), and connecting participants focus towards achieving a shared outcome (the Orb on top of the white pillar) and creating different kinds of value (the treasure chest)

The Red, Orange, Yellow and Green wall was built to reflect the 4 phases of the core ProMeet process, that we use all the time as a framework in designing and faciliating meetings.


You can see the full original un-cropped photo below:

And a wider shot also shows the importance of the preparation phase: The facilitator with an empty and non-judgemental mind seeking to view the intended outcome from a higher view (on top of the ladder), truing to focus the clients attention on their objectives (small yellow eye looking at the red objectives part of the process.

This model was built nearly 5 years ago and I can still remember what it means. It's a bonus the the LEGO Group have chosen to use our photo on the homepage of the official LEGO Serious Play website. :)

5 tools to help you check the alignment of your group

When running a workshop, how do we know we have true agreement on a shared model?

Superficial agreement will kill your session and undermine your objectives and so we suggest you explore questions and concerns instead.

Taking time to explore alignment will help build ownership of the ideas being discussed. The curiosity and honesty that follow provide a boost of energy that often spurs participants towards a meaningful outcome.


After someone has told the story of a shared model, you might ask - "based on the story that has just been told, do you have any questions or concerns about the model?"

This question directs all listeners to one interpretation and is simple to answer.


Here are five tools to get your group to express their thoughts:

1) Scales of agreement
Using the method cards here set out a scale of agreement on a table or the floor. Invite the group to work in silence and ask people to decide where they are in relation the model. Ask each person to write on the gridcard the position they take, along with a question or comment that relates to their level of agreement. When the writing is done, have each person read their card aloud and place it in the relevant place on the scale. The clusters illustrate the collective view of the group whilst the grid cards record each persons true thoughts: this method was adapted from an idea created by facilitation guru and author Sam Kaner.


2) Thumb voting
Ask participants to give a simple thumbs up, thumbs down, or somewhere in between to indicate if they have any questions or concerns. Thumbs up is no concerns, whilst thumbs down is major concerns. The most useful data comes from the people who’s thumbs are somewhere between horizontal and vertical (or 9:00-11:00 on a clock face). In turn, invite people to voice these slight reservations and ask them to identify how they could be addressed. This is a really quick and easy way to understand the alignment within a group.


3) Using 'traffic light' bricks
Get participants to select a red, amber and green brick and then use these like traffic-lights to indicate their level of reservation with what has been said. This simple method of assessing the reservations in your group is quick and leaves a visual record of the questions an individual has: this method was created by Anna-Lyse Raoul during our January 2018 training.


4) Using physical space
It can be interesting to use physical space as a literal expression of alignment around an idea. Use opposite walls to represent differing perspectives - perhaps no reservations vs major reservations. Ask participants to stand in the space which represents their view. This physical clustering helps people identify which colleagues are most closely aligned, and can be a good way of changing the energy if a group is waining: this method was introduced to us by Emma Owen during a July 2018 training.


5) Using bricks as scale
Rather usefully, a 1-10 stud brick can be used as a numeric scale of alignment - simply place a second piece at the point on the 10 stud scale that represents your view (1 being no alignment, 10 being complete alignment). This method has the advantage of creating a lasting record of what was said. Useful for returning to after a break, or capturing in photographs.


Used well, these tools have the power to unlock honest and meaningful dialogue and will result in greater clarity and ownership of the final idea.

We hope you enjoy them - Good luck!

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