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LEGO SERIOUS PLAY: to Enhance Communication and Ideation ! - By : Mateus Panizzon,

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY: to Enhance Communication and Ideation !


Mateus Panizzon
Mateus Panizzon Author profile
Mateus Panizzon is an Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Caxias do Sul. His research works are about Organizational Creativity, International Entrepreneurship and Knowledge-Based Dynamic Capabilities.

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY
SUMMARY

Lego bricks could be much more than a kid's game: they could be used by adults to communicate ideas in ideation sessions, gaining speed and efficiency, and do other useful things. The method used worldwide is named LEGO SERIOUS PLAY (LSP). This article will help you understand how to use LSP and what else you can do with those renowned Lego bricks.

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY: Introduction

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY  is a worldwide methodology that has been used by consultants and academics since 2010 to address creative thinking and problem solving for groups [1]. From coaching to team building, new product development to strategic planning and, in recent adaptations, to create business models, this approach evolved into a large community of facilitators. It has received attention and interest from the academic and management community [2]. However, what is the real essence of this method and how can it be applied to technological entrepreneurship?

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY three-hour workshop result with nearly 600 people

Result of a three-hour workshop with nearly 600 people!

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is much more than using Lego bricks. Our analysis will clarify the key factors to a successful LEGO SERIOUS PLAY workshop, the structure behind the core process, and why you should consider integrating these principles in your engineering or entrepreneurial rojects, in its original form or hybrid approach, combined with other techniques, from ideation to business model generation.

The LEGO SERIOUS PLAY  (LSP) method effectiveness can be understood with these five basic principles:

  • Basic Principle I – Changing the way people communicate
  • Basic Principle II – Context and process
  • Basic Principle III – The Bricks
  • Basic Principle IV – Do not use a hammer to remove a screw
  • Basic Principle V – It is like a scientific method

In this first article, we will explain the basic principles I and II. The second article will present basic principles III, IV and V.

Basic Principle I – Changing the way people communicate

In processes like New Product Development, Strategy Building, or Team Building, a group of people is communicating, and this communication usually occurs in the traditional meeting model. Therefore, four main components are evident, and this is where the LSP method truly comes in:

LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®tableau-lsp-2

*In the LSP method, Rapport means creating empathy with others to establish good communication

Therefore, with these factors, it is apparent that the communication level of a meeting can be explained by:

Communication = Rapport x Participation x Understanding x Message

or C = R x P x U x M

This equation means that:

  1. LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is much more than Lego blocks for communication and creativityIf the level of rapport (R) is zero, there is no empathy and the communication result will be compromised
  2. If the level of participation (P) is zero, there is no idea generation, and the result will be compromised
  3. If the understanding (U) level is zero, this can lead to conflicts and the result will be compromised
  4. If the message (M) level is zero, that means people were not able to express the message correctly or in time, and the result will be compromised

Therefore, the LSP method is in action in those four components, increasing the level of communication of a meeting.

Since in LSP workshops,  the models developed express metaphors, and not an exact representation of reality, message level is higher and faster. A person can represent the idea with two bricks, and this will be enough for the group to understand his contribution.

Basic Principle II – Context and process

Understanding that communication is the core of the LSP method, it is important to know that, other components are added for the ideation purposes [1]. The LSP workshop starts with a warm-up phase, which can be divided into 4 to 6 challenges. These challenges follow the structure (open questions, build the model, share, reflect). After the warm-up phase, a framework of seven techniques, from individual models to “what if” scenarios to more complex situations, can be developed progressively according to the workshop purpose, which can have a duration of 2 hours or even 2 days or more.

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY session with young adults to improve creativity and communication

Above this communication layer, LSP follows a series of four principles to provide a differentiated environment conductive do creative thinking:

  1. State of flow: the workshops are modeled from simple to complex, increasing the challenge level according to the abilities of the participants, which creates a flow. This insures involvement and motivation, which leads to better idea generation since we tend to be less creative if the challenge is too simple, and become bored with the exercise [3].
  2. Constructivism: the workshops provide people the opportunity to materialize a concept; this is a major component of learning. This is why “building” is a central part of the process and facilitates creative thinking [4]
  3. Play, storytelling and imagination: since the workshop promotes open questions and uses imagination to create the model, the experience in the four phases of the core process lead to a serious play environment, reflected in the emotional charge of the workshop and creating social bonds among participants that facilitates creative thinking [5]
  4. Metaphors: the use of metaphors provides a common language, leading to meaningful creation and understanding, an important combination of ideas in creative thinking [6].

The next article will present the following basic principles:

  • Basic Principle III – The Bricks
  • Basic Principle IV – Do not use a hammer to  remove a screw
  • Basic Principle V – It is like a scientific method

Additional information

For more information on the subject of this article, please read the following research paper:

Panizzon Mateus and Mario Dubois (2015). White Paper: The Engineering of Lego Serious Play Method: A Guide to the Basic Principles for Technological Entrepreneurship Applications. École de technologie supérieure, Montréal, Department of Innovation Management, November 16, 2015, pp. 1-5, PDF.

 

Mateus Panizzon

Author's profile

Mateus Panizzon is an Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Caxias do Sul. His research works are about Organizational Creativity, International Entrepreneurship and Knowledge-Based Dynamic Capabilities.

Author profile


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