We humans like to use our hands to express ourselves and find solutions. In fact, there are many cultures that are known for the way they can communicate with gestures.
LEGO gets that. You might think they're just for kids, but if you set out a few blocks at your next meeting I guarantee they will be touched and assembled. The LEGO SERIOUS PLAY (LSP) initiative was started in 2004 and continues today as a way to use play with purpose, as shown by several case studies. There are 377 members in the Serious Play professional community made up of facilitators who can help you organize a better meeting or work session.
Turning Toys into Tools
According to Kamal Hassan, CEO of the Innovation 360 Institute, this LEGO methodology can facilitate many areas of innovation, including culture creation and strategy design, scenario planning, idea generation, innovative problem solving, commercialization strategy and team building. And Innovation's ranks of satisfied customers include banks, government agencies and startups.
"When combined with a comprehensive framework for innovation, LSP can open the doors to innovative new products, services and business models,” Hassan writes in InnovationExcellence.com.
A Startup's Story
In fact, one of best posts I read about using LEGO to encourage more innovative thinking came from Scurri, a parcel delivery service in Ireland that combined the concepts described in Eric Ries' book Lean Startup, along with LEGO Serious Play. The author, Rory O'Connor, explains the main points of why and how they used it in his post The LEGO Lean Startup. He had his team use the bricks to build a three-dimensional representation of the company's business model, to make sure all employees were on the same page in understanding how different parts of the company fit together and what their priorities should be. Using LEGOs also helped employees who don't normally speak up in groups become more active, feel included and support the output of the meeting.
Keep Their Hands Busy
To illustrate how simple toys can change the dynamics of a meeting, last summer I brought along big sheets of poster board, crayons and some Play-Doh to a marketing workshop that I organized. The items were placed at each table. Of the 50 people who attended, I spotted only one or two who did not pick something up. Most everyone had something in his or her hands the entire two-hour workshop. It seemed that people couldn’t articulate ideas without forming the Play-Doh into a shape as they spoke.
Talking while gesturing does not mean that you are more creative or able to articulate things better. The extrovert may dominate a meeting, but this structured innovation method from LEGO can help introverts and extroverts share ideas. If you’ve been trying different ways to encourage innovation within your small business, the Serious Play methodology might open a new door to creativity, new products/services and new profits.
What methods do you use to foster collaboration and innovation in the workplace?
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