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

BUILDING BETTERFACILITATORS

What to expect from SeriousWork in the year ahead

As we say goodbye (and I’m sure for some of us ‘good riddance’!) to 2020, I thought I’d take a moment to share a few of our plans for the year ahead.

Education is a big focus for 2021

In the year ahead we will continue to bring LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to further and higher education, we plan to share more examples and frameworks showing how it is being used, especially during COVID-19, to improve the learners experience and learning outcomes, across a wide range of faculties including business, medical and engineering schools. #EducationInnovation. Expect us to announce out first sector specialist training associate in this area and the development of an education focused community of practice / knowledge exchange.

Systems and strategy 

In the year ahead we will illuminate the problem of ‘silo-strategy’ (strategy created by a single entity in pursuit of singular aims) and illustrate the opportunities and benefits of systems thinking driven strategy. We think this work will offer leaders working at the higher strategic ‘Build-level 3: System Models’ a fundamental reframe on what LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is and does. We hope to show that this approach is timely and valid for the system level challenges organisations and society faces. From the research and development work undertaken so far, we think this will be our most important work to date.

New materials

We will be publishing a range of material showing LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in combination with other methods and techniques, for instance how LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® works with growth mindset frameworks, positive psychology or to enhance learning with the scrum framework.

More translation of our books

Our three books will become available in more languages. ONLINE will be available in German, Spanish and Italian, MASTERING will be available in German, and our first book SERIOUSWORK will be published in Chinese/Mandarin Q2 2021 and with luck other languages to be announced!

We will bring LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to the attention of new audiences to show how the method is used to support organisational development, leadership development and organisational development. Maybe more HR professionals will consider LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® a valuable tool amongst many other excellent HR tools and methods?

Advanced training

We are working on further advanced training options and advanced application development that we will teach in new advanced training classes, and we are developing a launchpad programme to help already trained facilitators, who have lost their mojo a route to rebuild confidence, sharpen skills and get into orbit!

In pursuit of gold standard

And of course we will continue to strive to offer the best LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® training in the world. We will always deliver practice-based-learning to develop learners facilitation skills and confidence in applying the method in the environment our clients ask us to work in, online and face-to-face.

Thank you

Finally HUGE gratitude to all who have shared the journey with us this year, too numerous to mention, but you know who you are and I hope you can feel the warmth of my appreciation for the trust, creativity and fun you have bought to my year.

Happy New Year - Sean 

How COVID-19 created our new book ONLINE

Here's the back story to our new book.

March 2020 was set to be a busy month for me, my schedule included system model workshop, a trip to France and two trips to the USA.

On Wednesday March 11th, I caught the early morning Eurostar train from London to Paris. The COVID-19 crisis was escalating but the attitude to the virus in the UK in early March was still relaxed. I got back from Paris late afternoon. The next day the US Government announced a travel ban from the EU to the USA, except UK and Ireland...

Let's wind the clock back a few months. In December 2019, I had been invited to pitch to train a very senior group of men and women in a leadership academy in a branch of the US Military. Accordingly I had spent a good chunk of the previous three months in the most complex contracting I had ever been involved with (how does a document running to 55 pages and 37000 words sound?).

Having finally agreed a contract, on March 2nd, that day I booked to fly to Washington DC for a 4 day training week commencing March 16th. At the time of booking, the decision to travel to the USA felt safe.

Fast forwards, and pick up the story. So the day after I got back from Paris, the US Government had issued a travel ban from the EU, but excluding the UK and Ireland. The ban came into force at midnight on March 14th, six hours after I was supposed to land.

I began regretting my trip to France. Legally, I knew I was OK to fly, (virus free?), but was worried my client might cancel the training, because I'd been in Paris. We had a phone call, discussed the situation and decided it was OK. I'd travel the very next day.

Landing in Washington DC on the afternoon of Friday March 13th, I cleared customs, hired a car and drove several hours to the client base. The next day, just after Saturday lunchtime, the US Government extended the travel ban to include the UK, effective Sunday 15th March. Great.

After a call with my family I packed my bags, turned around to travel home, to try and fly six days later could be tricky. So I drove to the airport and caught a flight back to London 24 hours after landing (and as it turned out, my flight home was cancelled).

In the UK, the week that followed saw schools shut. Then on March 2Oth a UK wide lock-down began. My world (along with the millions of others who were ahead of 'the curve'), went crazy.

Sitting here in London, in October 2020 the world has changed. Face-to-face meetings are mostly out, right now the COVID-19 curves are going up again and the economy is not wearing a happy face.

In late March, it took me about a week to understand that things would not return to the 'normal' we had known only days before.

I could either sit at home and wait for normal to return, or I could accept the reality of the situation and embrace change. An insight given to me twenty years ago, helped me resolve what to do next.

'Masters of change, use change to create change'

As a much younger man, I had been fortunate to be taken 'under the wing' of an elder, Michael Frye a lovely and wonderful man. One day, over lunch, he asked me for my definition of 'mastery of change'. Michael was like that, he would ask questions that I'd never even thought about. He then said, 'Masters of change, use change to create change.'

I had never been sure what to do with this insight until March 2020, having been like many in the LEGO® Serious Play® community, sure that online LEGO Serious Play was not possible. I resolved to set my biases to one side and learn from my own experience what was, or was not possible.

With the encouragement of my friend and training associate Jens, and with help from our wonderful graduate community, MeetUp groups and enthusiasts from LinkedIn, we began a series of experiments to learn about the possibilities and limits for online LEGO Serious Play mediated and via online platforms, mostly Zoom and Mural.

The results of these trials surprised me. It turns out there are things that are better when bringing digital tools to LEGO Serious Play facilitation. In the six months since March we have created new techniques to make the LEGO Serious Play Method work extremely well online.

Is it possible? The answer is a resounding yes.

We remain aligned with the core principles of the method and continue to use the ideas that we have written about in our previous two books, SERIOUSWORK and MASTERING.

There are additional techniques and requirements that ONLINE demands. The preparation phase is more complex, for both participants and facilitators. and online requires new skills. Foundation LEGO Serious Play components, like the three stage skills build requires a fourth skills build to be included.

The role the facilitator takes, especially during online shared model building is both different and at its core similar to what happens in the real world.

Our innovation to split the shared model building into new stages, disaggregate, rebuild, 'Magic-hands©" and 'Build-along©' still results in a shared model that people are proud of and feel ownership over.

There have been (and may still be), voices in our community saying online LEGO Serious Play is not possible. They are wrong. It is. And the approaches to online LEGO Serious Play will help cut carbon emissions long after the dark days of COVID-19.

This book has taken six months to write and we've shared drafts with our customers and students whose imagination and unlimited outlook inspires us everytime we pick up bricks. This book is a true act of co-creation, I just asked the question 'what's possible?', and made time to write up our learning.

Sean Blair, London UK, October 2020


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!

Tosin Interviews Sean - A Podcast on LEGO Serious Play, including some of the secrets of #OnlineLSP

Tosin Adebisi is, accodoring to his mum, "a specialist in human-centered stakeholder engagement, an intrapreneur, educator, coach and facilitator"

Actually I made up the part about his mum, but that's what his LinkedIn proflie says.

Tosin, pictured above (no, that's not Sean next to him), is also a Certified LEGO® Serious Play® facilitator and PodCaster.

He recently interviewed SeriousWork founder Sean Blair. In this 56 minute interview Tosin asks Sean many questions including...

  • You've been busy during the lockdown. As a trainer and facilitator, how have you found it? Tell us what you have been up too...
  • What is LEGO® Serious Play® and why do you think it works?
  • "Making a 3D print of your own thoughts", what does that mean?
  • How did a toy become such a popular tool for businesses?
  • Is Online Shared Model Building possible? Tell us about your new online facilitation course...
  • Traditionalists say online LEGO Serious Play facilitation lacks tactile element. How did you go about recreating a similar experience?
  • LEGO for Lockdown challenge - instructions for people to participate on Padlet

If you have an hour spare, or want to have a bit of background talk as you work-from-home, you can listen to the musings and ponderings of Sean and Tosin here:

The interview starts after the 5 mins, click just below the << if you want to skip the preamble...


Or listen on Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker or Pocket Casts

Thanks so much to Tosin, for his hard work preparing, recording and producing this PodCast. You can contact Tosin via LinkedIn here.

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/

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