Lego is a serious business. It is also helping professional services firms with their business and client development. Claire Rason explains.
A quick Google search and you will find that LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is a facilitated thinking, communication and problem-solving technique. It is grounded in some serious fields of science, and it enables adults to build metaphors out of bricks.
All of this sounds interesting, but for many that doesn’t really tell them what it is and when you might want to introduce it into your firm.
How does it work?
The starting point is that whilst this is something that could be done individually, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is devised for groups. Yes, you can introduce LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® into conferences – I have facilitated meetings of 100 participants – but the optimal number is where you have facilitated groups of up to 10. Often firms will use multiple facilitators where they have larger teams.
The process works by asking participants a question. The question is one that will help the group learn together, co-create and gain insight into whatever goal they are exploring.
Participants use the bricks to answer the question (by building) and then, in turn, share what they have built. This enables a deeper understanding of the issue at hand. That’s important – it isn’t just turning up and playing. There has to be a ‘so what’ that the bricks are intended to be used for. So, yes, they can be used as a team building exercise, but the ‘so what’ might be ‘to learn a bit more about each other’, or ‘to understand what everyone thinks about being in the team’ or to understand ‘how the team can work better’.
So what is the benefit?
Everyone is heard and is able to give their view untainted by what has gone before, or what will follow.
Think about the last meeting you were in or the last group discussion. Did everyone get to speak? Did everyone speak freely and equally? Often, we will see meetings where a small percentage of participants take up the bulk of the airtime. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is designed to avoid this. The benefits of communicating in this way last beyond the end of the session.
Understand each other’s points of view
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® enables different points of view to be shared freely. Even when shared models are built, it is not about different viewpoints competing and ending up with a winner – it is about understanding how different viewpoints can co-exist.
Play is the gateway to neuroplasticity
Yes, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is fun. It creates a state where everyone is in flow. There is an energy in the room that is often missing in business meetings. It has been shown that play is the way to create new neural pathways – in other words, it helps us learn and problem-solve.
Enables us to think differently
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is facilitated – more about that below – but the space that is created allows for deep reflection which in turn leads to enhanced creativity and self-awareness. It is a different way of thinking for many.
It is facilitated
Whilst you could get some bricks and find a process to follow online, you are not going to get the benefit from LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® without a facilitator.
A facilitator is someone who will create the conditions for all of the benefits to emerge. Some facilitators are also coaches – and this is unsurprising if you understand what coaches do. Team coaches help teams learn. They work with them to achieve their goals, improve their performance and function more cohesively. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is a great tool to do all of those things! Coaches are also good at asking questions – and getting the questions right is at the heart of facilitating.
When might you want to introduce it?
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is versatile, which is one of the reasons it is so popular. In professional services firms it works really well because it breaks down hierarchies and it allows for difficult or abstract topics to be explored in a different way.
This might already give you some insight into when you might want to use it, but to get your mind ticking over, here are some questions and thoughts to:
- Are you looking at something that you want to discuss with a group?
- Do you have some big characters who will dominate the conversation?
- Do you have differing views on the topic and want to get those out into the open?
- Would you benefit from visually seeing the system you are talking about?
If the answer to some of those questions is yes, then LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® might be something you want to consider.
What sort of topics?
Using business and client development as the overarching theme, the sorts of topics that might be explored using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® are:
- How to get professionals doing more business development
- Getting partners to say yes to client interviews
- Creating a culture of business development
- Creating a culture of feedback
- Change management
- Virtual collaboration
- Working better together as a team
So, there you have it. A quick rundown of what, why and how of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.
Claire Rason is a director at Client Talk, a consultancy created to change the conversations professional services firms are having with – and about – their clients. Claire can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.clienttalk.co.uk.