Lego Serious Play or "managers play in the model"

    Lego Serious Play or, in short, LSP is an unusual and yet not very common method of game modeling (or - facilitation ). Not confused started? Then we continue and, we promise, there is nothing complicated in this.

    To begin with, we will understand what “facilitation” is.
    In simple and understandable language, “facilitation” is the organization and conduct of effective meetings, where the effectiveness criterion is to achieve the set goal of the meeting within the time frame determined for this meeting. For example, if we organize two-hour iteration planning, the facilitator ensures that the team is not distracted by related topics and does not go too deep into detail, so that in 2 hours we have a ready-made and high-quality plan. Moreover, the quality of the plan implies the involvement of all participants in the meeting in the process.

    Now let's get back to where we started - Lego Serious Play.

    The main goal of this method is to stimulate the adoption of non-standard decisions, visualize them using Lego constructor parts during sessions of various durations, the duration of which depends on the complexity of the scale of the meeting topic and the depth of its elaboration.

    In ScrumTrek, this method was recently tested, including for developing a business strategy for the next calendar year (a serious thing), so we will literally tell firsthand what this beast is and how it looks.

    But first, a little history: Johan Rus and Bart Victor (at the time the method was created, both were professors at the Swiss “International Institute for Management Development” - IMD) came up with the concept of a “serious game in Lego” in the mid-90s with one main goal - to stimulate the manager staff to describe, create and implement their own views on the style and strategy of doing business.

    The first experience in applying and testing the concept was carried out by the creators (already mentioned by Rus and Victor) with management teams in companies such as Tetra Pak, Hydro Aluminum and TFL, in addition - at IMD University (for three hundred employees of Lego itself). Three scientific publications were published: in 1998, the first article “Finding Original Strategies: How about a Serious Game?” Was published in the scientific journal of IMD University, and in 1999, “Moving to Models for Creating a Strategy Based on a Serious Game,” published in the European Journal Management ”and, finally, the industry magazine Long-Range Planning published the most popular article by Matt Statler“ Serious Games with Strategy ”.

    Fun fact - Kjeld Kirk Christiansen, creator of the constructor and original owner of Lego, was initially skeptical of this idea, but since Rus and Victor were quick to prove the applicability of the model in practice, Mr. Kristiansen was the first to insist on applying Serious Play methods to Lego (in the company itself, yes).

    Today, after enough years, Lego Serious Play is a licensed business consultation methodology used not only by Lego itself, Daimler Chrysler, SABMiller, Orange, Nokia are officially recognized as its effectiveness, finally, government organizations also take LSP into service (for example, Main Patent Office of Denmark). Not so long ago, Lego realized that the development of the method in a closed community is extremely slow and licensed the method under Creative Commons, so now we can safely say that LSP belongs to everyone.

    Let's finish with the story and tell in more detail about the method itself, which consists of three cornerstone concepts:

    The game

    A “game” is a process limited by rules and voluntary participation, involving the participant’s imagination. The game is also governed by agreements between its participants.


    Ideas based on the work of Seymour Papert, who claimed that people learn best in the process of involvement in the game in the process of creating a product that is “external” to themselves: a sand castle, a car or a computer program.


    Throughout the history of mankind, the term “imagination” has been given many interpretations and explanations, the interpretations of which were closely related to the language in which “the speech was spoken”. In the LSP, “imagination” is assigned the following role: to describe something, to create, to motivate to create.

    So, we summarize the most important components of the Lego Serious Play.

    The method helps to structure: thinking, dialogue and joint decision-making.

    3-D models from Lego constructor elements are the basis for: group discussion, exchange of knowledge and experience, decision making.

    The main features of the method:

    1. Full engagement (each builds models);
    2. Self-expression (everyone speaks out);
    3. Inability to not participate (which is very important - “merging” will not work).

    Within the framework of the LSP technique, two types of sessions are possible: short and long.

    Short sessions (3-8 hours) are used primarily for team building, solving a specific problem, creating a common vision and revealing creative thinking.

    Long or “complex” sessions (8-40 hours) are held in the same format divided into parts and serve, first of all, to solve problems of strategic and organizational development, forecasting the future, developing new products, discussing / implementing changes and identifying team values or company.

    Lego Serious Play declares the following presuppositions: each participant is an expert, everyone should speak out and give feedback to another participant, no one can criticize or try to evaluate models. This is the most natural dialogue that promotes non-standard thinking, where, as fixing objects, models from the designer are assembled by each participant individually during the “serious game”.

    Our trainer - Denis Tuchin , answered several questions regarding the use of Lego Serious Play.

    - Denis, what is LSP?

    Lego Serious Play, by and large, is a facilitation method with a couple of cool moments:
    1. Absolute involvement of all participants in the meeting;
    2. Since the work is tactile (with hands), the fantasy works to the fullest with the help of those parts of our brain that are not involved only in the course of verbal speech.

    - Can you tell us a little more about this?

    Firstly, you can’t conduct an LSP “as you like” and “anyone” cannot play a serious game. A person must well understand what purpose he pursues in each particular game.

    It all starts with an exercise called “to develop a skill” - it is not tied to any specific task, it only demonstrates the operation of the method (example below).

    The construction of a model is the construction of a metaphor, in no case, a complete copy. Firstly, because different people can have very different copies, so we immediately explain that we don’t need to strive for the identity of the real world - just an understandable image.

    We give a simple example - “Duck”. Does everyone know what a duck looks like? Which bird. Probably yes. Now imagine that you have a Lego constructor.

    1. Build a Duck from 10 Parts
    2. Explain to other participants why your model is a duck.
    3. Now remove 5 parts so that the model remains a duck.

    Suddenly, right?

    Now let's look at the basic principles that guide the participants in this duck example (as well as during the construction of other models):
    • If you can’t find the part you need, imagine that you have one
    • Do not hold a meeting (including with yourself), DO!
    • Your model is your judgment and only you know what it means (duck and judgment about it)
    • Listen with your eyes - watch
    • Enjoy

    - And how are real, applied, problems solved in LSP?

    There are 4 easy steps:
    1. The task of collecting the model from the trainer
    2. Model assembly (individually or in a group)
    3. Model explanation
    4. Questions

    At the moment when other participants ask questions for each individual model, in fact, the most interesting thing happens: “Why does the director have a wizard hat?”, “Why does this figure hold a sword when communicating with representatives of other departments?” etc.

    Since it is given limited time to create models and think over a model, and then build it is impossible, you need to do it right away. The participant first builds, and at the time of explanation, he realizes and interprets what his right hemisphere had in mind. Here the greatest number of insights is born.

    However, Lego Serious Play immediately says that it is better to build than to reason. That is, you do not need to think about what details you need to build the model - you need to take existing ones and build.

    When building personal models, a huge number of moments from the field of “psychotherapy” pop up, which we must not forget when playing, for example, with colleagues.

    - What was your game with your colleagues dedicated to?

    We built a model of the company in the next, 2016, year.
    It all started with a model of oneself: “Portray yourself and your path to the company.”
    After that, it was necessary to depict the company itself “as I see it today”.
    Finally, the third model - the group one, set the goal as the second one - “the company at the moment”, but the metaphor itself was built collectively, simultaneously by two teams (all employees found a place in them).
    The fourth model is the “company in 2016”, built individually again. And the fifth is the same, but in a group.

    I think you can imagine how much different information we have learned from this. First of all, the difference between “today” and “at the end of next year” carries the entire amount of data that you need to plan work and motivate employees.

    We also built models of “obstacles” that could prevent us from being where we want at the end of next year - this is also insanely interesting. One group built “obstacles” on the current model, that is, these are current tasks / problems and difficulties, and the other group is separate from the model, that is, these are some global tasks and difficulties that need to be addressed.

    We also built a model of what is needed to overcome these obstacles (yes, the game is complex), and here an interesting thing happened: the teams that built the models “in” or “separately” from the tasks of the company, built the solution methods in the opposite way - that is, the solution models “ Separated ”problems looked like a part of the company, and models for solving“ connected ”(with the company's activities) problems looked like independent solutions.

    Thus, we got first, first steps on what we can begin to do to improve the company's condition in 2016. We must not forget that specific models created during the game should be recorded (photo, video, text description). LSP facilitator community gurus say it’s best to take a photo of the model and sign directly on it, which means this or that part of the model.

    The ScrumTrek team is very grateful to Nikolai Borisov for his contribution to the preparation and conduct of this session.

    Also popular now: