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

BUILDING BETTERFACILITATORS

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.

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.

Thank you!


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.


My first workshop: 3 days after training. By Jesse Lui

Jesse works at Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong and flew to London in October 2018 with his colleague Christina. A couple of days after completing his training and certification (and flying back to Hong Kong!) Jesse ran his first workshop.

Jesse has kindly allowed us to share the email he wrote to the other graduates of his class, reporting on his first workshop.

___________________

Email From: Jesse Lui
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 12:14 PM
To: Graduates of SERIOUSWORK London Training 25-26 October.

Hi all

Hope you had a good weekend and got some rest. Christina went on to a holiday and I traveled back just in time to return to work on Monday :)

I had my pilot workshop with my team here, which went great!

We ran the skills build exercises:

After all the skills builds, participants worked on individual model of our greatest customer experiences.

Then participants worked on a shared model of our greatest customer experiences.


What was encouraging were their reflections. I came away from the training fully believing in the method. The spontaneous responses of my team gave me a boost of confidence. If you’re interested, take a look at the last page of the deck I built to capture yesterday’s workshop (below).

Keep in touch, everyone! Look forward to hearing your stories on what you are learning from applying LSP!

Miss you guys already!

Jesse


Note from Trainer Sean Blair:

Well done Jesse - That's a record!

Just 3 days (over a weekend and an international flight!!) before facilitating your first workshop, that's getting into practice right away, the very best way to embed the skills leant on your training. Thanks for sharing!

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