ON FACILITATING LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
LEGO Serious Play Blog
Ausbildung zum LEGO SERIOUS PLAY Facilitator von SERIOUSWORK

BUILDING BETTERFACILITATORS

All children are born artists by Sirte Pihlaja

We need a more experimental, startup mentality to disrupt our old ways of thinking and doing in today’s business world. The best way to achieve this is to inspire creativity and build a sense of empowerment in our co-workers by bringing more PLAY into our organisations.

We are all born creative. We don’t grow into creativity, but instead, end up growing out of it. During all of our education, schools teach us convergent thinking, which drains divergent thinking - CREATIVITY - out of us.

“Children have an extraordinary capacity in creativity. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They are not frightened to be wrong. That’s not to say being wrong is creativity in itself. But if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you have no capacity to come up with anything original”, as Sir Ken Robinson warns us.

Most adults fear being wrong and making mistakes. Similarly, most companies want to play it safe, or rather they don’t want to play at all. Unfortunately, that’s not enough anymore. We need to re-think our purpose, and whether that purpose is even relevant anymore to our customers and employees.


“All children are born artists.

The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.”

- Pablo Picasso


The future seems more uncertain than ever, so we all need to seek out that creative five-year-old within us to see positive effects play out. We need PLAY in business to do just that. We need to start looking at things through a playful lens, that lets us think out of the box and gives our brain a hand.


Happy people think about others

Play helps us connect with the people around us, and can bring about a new wave of valuing other people, relationships, and supporting each other in business. It leads to lower levels of stress and healthier and more engaged employees. These are all signs of a forward-looking company.

Play is often associated with happiness, joy and having fun. In a business that has instilled play, people are allowed to experiment, find their “flow” effortlessly, and take creative risks. When it is ok to fail, the whole organisation learns and succeeds faster, propelling business growth, profits, and success.

People need to be HAPPY, so they care about delivering happiness to others. Without happy employees, you cannot have great customer experiences. In a company culture that advocates for play, people feel refreshed and energised, and learning and creativity get a boost. A playful organisation has motivated and committed employees, who are inspired, have fun together and perform better as a team.

Play has an essential role in business, as it puts us in the right mindset and allows us space to think differently - to be CREATIVE. As the need to introduce more creativity in an organisation is vital to its well-being, it’s time to PLAY. Seriously.


Ingrain play into your working habits


Play is not about external facilities like building a “creative environment” for your employees. Especially now, since almost everything happens online, it should be about the ways of working. So, the only investment you need to make might very well be between your ears.

Enter LEGO® Serious Play® (LSP), a creative methodology, initially created by the LEGO® Group for themselves, and later on open-sourced and applied to many different domains and disciplines. We’ve designed our application (http://www.cxplay.fi) to help understand change and ease transformation in the realm of People Experiences. LSP has also been translated to the online so that attendees can join the sessions from all over the world.

Using LSP, you can imagine a new story for your organisation, brick by brick. Through building your individual models and constructing shared ones, you may start by re-defining your purpose or create the strategy you need to reach that purpose. You can re-imagine new audiences and their customer journeys with your company, as well as do market research studies with existing ones. Just pick your bricks and tell your story.

You can also depict the various agents that affect the future of your organisation. But it doesn’t stop there. You can, together with your team, ideate and evaluate all the different scenarios that your people working in customer-facing roles might encounter. That allows you to create simple guiding principles, which empower everyone to do the right thing. Always.


Become the story you are building

There are numerous ways in which you can benefit in practice from a creative methodology, such as LEGO® Serious Play®. Most importantly, LSP skyrockets the capacity of your organisation to plan and prepare for the future by fast-tracking the discussions you need to have to make these scenarios and decisions possible. It lets you literally play all of them out before they happen.

The playful atmosphere in LSP workshops creates a sense of safety - an environment where everyone feels comfortable to share their experiences and innermost thoughts. It also provides an energising context for you to co-create and bring to life People Experiences, together with your colleagues and customers.

And just like kids become part of their story, instead of just telling that story to you, your co-creators internalise the shared ideas when they play. They learn and remember better, and implementing these experiences becomes much simpler and quicker as everyone has already invested themselves in the concepts discussed.

LSP is a serious tool for facilitating change. It reignites our innate creativity and directs the artist within us to create wonderful, new masterpieces to ensure our sustainable business growth also in the future. So...are you ready to find that five-year-old within yourself? Get ready, get serious, PLAY!

- - -

This blog post is republished with permission from Shirute Ltd. It has been originally posted at https://www.shirute.fi/en/blogs/all-children-are-born-artists.

Sirte Pihlaja (Certified Customer Experience Professional, LEGO® Serious Play® Trained Facilitator) is the CEO of Shirute, the first customer experience agency in Finland. She heads the activities of the global Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) in Finland. An internationally known CX/EX expert, coach, designer and strategist, she has over 25 years of experience in advising large international corporations and brands in different industries. Sirte is known for translating customer understanding to concrete actions and results in a fast and cost-efficient way. She is especially fond of creative methodologies and regularly plays with LEGO bricks together with her clients.

Sirte recently wrote about LEGO® Serious Play® in her globally best-selling book Customer Experience 2, co-authored by 24 highly experienced international CX professionals (http://bit.ly/cx2book).

Learning to facilitate LEGO Serious Play Online - By Dr Rebekah Wilson

The blog post below was written by SeriousWork graduate Dr Rebekah Wilson who works at Exeter University. Rebekah first published this post on the Exeter University Incubator website and we are grateful for her permission to re-post it here.

The Education Incubator Serious Fun, Serious Play, Serious Skills project awarded six bursaries to support Lego Serious Play Facilitation Training across the University of Exeter. In this blog, one of the bursary recipients, Dr Rebekah Welton shares her journey.


I am a Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religion. As a relative newcomer to the world of teaching and lecturing, I am particularly keen to try new and exciting ways of delivering content and assessments for my students. So when I heard about the opportunity to apply for a bursary to train as a Lego Serious Play facilitator, I was immediately intrigued. However, I did not have much time to put together the application video as I was about to go on annual leave for a week camping in Wales! I decided to make the most of the gorgeous landscapes and recorded my application video in various locations from Great Orme’s Head to Llanberis! Fortunately, the sight of me in walking gear did not put the panel off, and I was selected to receive the bursary for Lego Serious Play facilitation training. I was delighted!


In normal circumstances, Lego Serious Play takes place face-to-face, with all participants handling shared piles of Lego, but this was, of course not taking place under normal circumstances. So instead, each of us received an array of Lego in the post to use in our own homes via Zoom.


Our brilliant trainer, Sean, taught us to use the bricks as metaphors, building models to express our ideas and anxieties about any topic imaginable. We had to learn to listen carefully to the stories that each participant told about the models, and in asking further probing questions about why they chose a red brick instead of yellow, we were led to unexpected but insightful conversations about each model and what they represented.


Image
Once we got the knack of facilitating the building of individual models online and using them for reflection, we then learnt to amalgamate the individual models into a one large shared model. I think we were all surprised by just how effective this was for drawing together a variety of ideas into one narrative, mediated by the Lego bricks.


On the second day of training we got into the nitty-gritty work of planning Lego Serious Play sessions for the particular needs of a specific group; a seminar on a particular module, a department of academic colleagues, or an executive group, for example. This is where we realised that the efficacy of Lego Serious Play sessions relies on the planning and the thoughtful implementation of clear, accurate directions for model building, and the subsequent reflection.

It is not simply a case of asking participants to play with bricks. The task must be framed carefully to yield the best results. Nevertheless, the capacity and flexibility that this playful pedagogy provides for enhancing learning and communication are immense, and I am eagerly anticipating delivering my first Lego session to my students in a couple of weeks. When face to face, hands-on Lego sessions become safe to carry out, Sean will be visiting us on campus to teach us how to run even bigger Lego Serious Play sessions and build ‘system models’.
I feel so inspired by the training I received. The ways in which this method of learning and creating shared visions can be used appears to be multifarious. I am fully behind the aims of Education Incubator to integrate Lego Serious Play into the University’s toolkit of common practices in teaching and academic development. If you have the opportunity to attend a session, or to also receive facilitation training at a later date, I wouldn’t hesitate to take part!


NOTE: Thanks for letting us share your write up Rebekah. We should also note that without the pioneering work being done by Dr Holly Henderson at Exeter University expanding the use of LEGO Serious Play at Exeter University would not be happening!

My first Online LEGO Serious Play Workshop. Shared Model Building with 78 Senior Academics and Executives. What could possibly go wrong?

Guest Post by Dr Holly Henderson Senior Lecturer

Department of Science, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship, University of Exeter Business School

For some time, I've been really keen to get the LEGO Serious Play Method into our University research bids.

I managed to achieve my goal, by integrating LEGO Serious Play within an EPSRC bid for the New UKRI National Circular Economy Hub. This bid was won by Professors Fiona Charnley and Peter Hopkinson at the Centre for Circular Economy, University of Exeter Business School.

In our bid we had originally planned a LEGO Serious Play workshop to be part of a two day National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Hub Conference and Workshop in a Hotel in Derbyshire on the 28-29 April 2020.

Then... GLOBAL LOCKDOWN! Could face-to-face translate to Online?

Covid-19 hit and the world was thrown upside down. Thanks to Sean Blair and Jen Droege’s enthusiasm and drive to achieve what some deemed the impossible, the creation of LEGO Serious Play Online transpired. I booked on the online course as soon as I could and was awarded Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor funding.

Before training Online, I confess I was getting nervous about whether it was going to be possible online to achieve group builds.

After completing the course I totally believed in the methods and principles, albeit I was anxious.

In the days that followed the course, myself and my colleagues at the University worked hard, unbelievably hard to get the preparation right from the workshop dry runs, to working around issues with the online whiteboard Mural and policies surrounding the University and new tech providers.

The workshop….What did we want to achieve?

The objective of the workshop was: To help develop a common language and understanding of the circular economy, which creates the foundations of an interdisciplinary circular economy community.

What did we do?

The week before the workshop we sent LEGO Serious Play Windows kits to delegates. We had 78 Senior Academics and Executives who were then mixed into 8 Zoom break out groups. On the day of the conference we met for a pre-conference session at 10:00 to complete the Skills Build which acted a lovely ice breaker for all.

The Conference kicked off at 13:30 and the LEGO Serious Play Session went on for the rest of the afternoon.

The workshop plan highlights:

1. An individual identity build,

2. An individual circular economy build,

3. Then a group circular economy build.


The result?

The end result when we all reconvened in the main Zoom plenary session, 8 fabulous group builds to share. The sessions were both recorded and documented by a second facilitator.

The results were simply fantastic and you would not have guessed they had been built online. Furthermore, the amount of data collated for research purposes from the steps used laid the foundations for the next day of the conference.

So what did we learn as we went along the journey?

Don’t underestimate the preparation involved in delivering online. Dry runs of the workshop are critical to sort snags out. When sending out delegate packs include the A4 back drop template for participants. Dependent on what the requirements are for reporting, have a secondary set of hands capturing images and narrative of the session.

Feedback

"Fun to be involved in the UKRI – National Interdisciplinary CE-HUB Lego Build.” Circular Economy Club Manchester;

“Really well run (and fun) session today using @LEGOSERIOUSPLAY to visualise the #circulareconomy. Great work!” Amrit Agar;

“Enjoying creative collaborations with Lego on a #circulareconomy, thanks to @hehenderson and great folks.” Professor Raidmund Bleischwitz.


Big thank you...

To Sean and Jens for pushing so hard to achieve this and of course Prof(s) Fiona Charney, Peter Hopkinson, Ken Webster and Team for believing it possible and taking the risk. Photo credits: Zoom shot, David Greenfield; Laptop, Raimund Bleischwitz; and Group Build, Debra Liley

Note from Sean

Thanks so much for sharing your story Holly :)

Holly is one of our most active graduates, she has run 54 workshops face to face and now online, Holly has bought LEGO Serious Play to the Business School, Medical School and School of Engineering at Exeter University. I cannot commend Holly highly enough, especially for her work in academia. Contact Holly at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hollyhendersonphd/

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.

Observations. A Graduate's perspective on a live workshop

SeriousWork training graduate Rebecca Godfrey shares her observations from a live workshop


I had the great pleasure of joining Sean for a full day event bringing together a large team (approximately 45 people) to look at their vision for the future. I was invited to observe and to serve as general helper for the day. This was a great opportunity as I was a helper before I had held any workshops myself; it was a fantastic to stand back and watch him in action as when I was training I was very much focusing on learning the process myself so watching on this day I spotted things that I would like to bring into my own practice and would like to share with the rest of the community here so that we can fulfil Sean's dream of us being the best LSP facilitators in the business.

My six key observations :

1. Pace
Pace would be my first observation - through the use of timers and the music Sean keeps a great pace throughout the day, not only ensuring all of the objectives are met but also building and maintaining a really positive energy to the whole day. See below about planning as planning is key to keep this pace.

2. Facilitate not participate
Watching Sean it was great to see how he could support and provide direction to the process when needed without interfering with the discussions. The gentleness and subtlety of Sean's interventions allowed for the teams to really own the day and the solutions that they came up with.

3. Use of the storyboard
Sean clearly knows what he is doing and how the whole day works but still he ensures that the whole day is mapped out - no winging it here. Seeing the amount of preparation go into the facilitation notes beforehand and how helpful this is during the day to keep the day on track or adjust as and when needed was really helpful. I know that Sean advises in the training to use facilitation notes but it wasn't until I watched this session I realised how vital this approach is. I always use facilitation notes myself and it really helps to ensure that there is a nice relaxed environment but at the same time allows me to keep an eye on the time and where are and when we need to gently move on to the next activity to ensure the event's objectives are met.

4. Having something in your back pocket

During the day we ran slightly earlier than expected, Sean had in his back pocket an extra activity which was great as it gave extra value to the team.

5. Don't be afraid of the sceptics - trust the process
What was most interesting to me about this group is that many of the team had been in post for many many years - some 30 years + but had never before had an offsite. Some of the team seemed a little hesitant at the beginning and there was one table in particular that seemed to have a bumpy start as they not only got use to the tool but also there appeared to be some conflict with this team. My key take away is to trust the process, as we went through the day everyone got on board in their own time, the team that had a degree of conflict slowly but surely warmed up and by the end were laughing and collaborating together seamlessly. I remember this each time I have a session where there are sceptics and in fact I often find by the end of the day those most committed to the process and its outcomes are often those that started the day sceptical of the whole Lego involvement

6. How to involve the leader
This event was at a time of much change for the team as they had recently had a new leader take over the group. Sean had incorporated into the agenda some time for the new leader to speak to outline her hopes and wishes for the day and for the journey ahead for this new team but then allowed her to join the tables ensuring no hierarchy and a real level playing field.

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