What happened after training in London? By Philipp Rosenthal
Phillipp works at a large consulting firm in Abu Dhabi. He flew to London in October 2018. A week after completing his training and certification Phillipp ran his first workshop. His objective was "to understand different meanings of 'identity' and create a common, group understanding".
I’m Philipp Rosenthal, a Sustainability Consultant that supports clients in the development of Sustainability Strategies, the implementation of associated programs and the reporting of non-financial disclosures. As a Clean-Tech engineer by background, I understand the importance of clear definitions so that everybody is on the same page. For years, however, I have struggled as many times clients have different levels of understanding of “Sustainability”. It could simply mean too many things. The term is too large, too all-encompassing. With LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, I want to tackle the problem that there is a lack of mutual understanding.
In my work helping develop of sustainability strategies, we ask our clients and thier stakeholders to prioritise which sustainability topics are the most important. It is here that the differences of understanding of a sustainability topic creates suboptimal outcomes.
In my view, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is especially powerful in this context as companies face a wide range of requirements and expectations that are sometimes hard to clearly define. Creating small 3D models can bring the topic to life, bond participants to a shared understanding and help bringing this important topic to the top of a company’s agenda.
Facilitating these workshops is an art that I was happy to be introduced to by Sean and Caroline from SERIOUSWORK. But similarly to other skills, facilitation is a muscle that needs constant training.
As suggested by Sean, I chose to conduct my first group session in a low-risk environment. My wife and son, who I have tested the methodology with before, are already adamant believers in this powerful approach to communication and they did not want to miss the opportunity to join in as well.
My first workshop: Exploring meaning and identity
I started with the usual Skills Build 1 & 2 and then chose to ask the participants to build a model about themselves, disclosing something that the others 'don’t know about you'. The group consisted of two pairs from different friend circles. They had met before only once but generally do not know each other well. I chose a more personal question for the Skills Build 3 so that it gets a little bit more personal before we dived into the main topic. After everybody built and shared, I encouraged curiosity by asking a few questions.
We then moved on into the main topic. I posed the build question: “Build a model of what “identity” means to you.” and gave 5 minutes building time. I was then very surprised by the some of the sophisticated answers that were shared.
We reflected briefly on some of the common themes before I asked the group to build a shared model of the group’s mutual understanding of the term. It is here, where things really kicked-off. I could see the “analytical” personalities opening up, everybody leaning in and they jointly created an impressive model of what “identity” means to them.
At the end, I asked the group for some feedback and was stunned. “This is an amazing approach to bring every view into a discussion.” This was mentioned by a usually more quite, analytical character. “I loved to see the different representations of the other participants and by building a shared model and co-creating, I have learned not only about “identity” but also got to know new people.”
Below timelapse shows a social gathering with the objective to create a shared understanding of what "identity" means to the group.
This was, of course, only the beginning. I have created the Facebook Group (“Abu Dhabi LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®”), a focused Instagram account (@Philipp_plays), am sharing content on LinkedIn and am currently setting up the Abu Dhabi Meetup. Then, I am creating Go-2-Market materials to bring this to my clients but before that, I will run a session for my team to update our team’s vision. There is lot’s to do.
Thanks, Sean and Caroline. It is not only this innovative methodology but also your mastery in teaching – from curating a group of excellent individuals to executing a thoughtful training experience – that has made this an exceptional first step in a journey.
Note from Trainer Sean Blair: Well done Phillip - It's great to see you helping groups exploring meaning. This really is one of the power features of LEGO Serious Play. It's never the words that matter (written or verbal) but always the meaning. An inspiring story, thanks for sharing.
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