Serious Play – Small Experiments
Book a Small Experiments Workshop
As part of the Calgary Arts Development’s Small Experiments Program, I’m providing a number of local organizations, schools, and businesses with Lego Serious Play workshops free of charge. The Experiment involves reframing how people see Lego, and whether I can open their minds up to the possibility that it is more than just a children’s toy. I’m hoping your organization might be interested in being involved in the project, by hosting one of the workshops for your staff/members. As mentioned, there is no cost for this, all I require is a few hours of your time, and the ability to briefly interview some or all of the attendees before and after the session. In return, your group will receive a wonderful learning experience like you’ve never had before. LSP works best in groups of 6-12 people, though more can be accommodated if needed. It requires only a large table to work on (two tables are great, one to use for laying out builds and such.)
It’s difficult to describe the process of LSP, as it takes on many forms, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume you are in charge of a group that is responsible for making lemonade. Your sales have been low for a while, and there’s an assumption that things are not going well in your group.
If you were to have a meeting with your group, and asked them to tell you what is going wrong, you’d very likely receive a lot of silence, perhaps one or two token answers that give you little to work with, and a few people saying “I agree with Bill”. There will be people sitting far back in their chairs, unwilling to share their true thoughts, and your response rate might be 20-30% of the room. Smartphones might make an appearance, as those not directly involved “check out” of the meeting entirely.
The LSP method of answering the question would involve the facilitator setting a bunch of LEGO bricks on the table, warming everyone up with a few easy builds, and then asking a question, such as: “A year from now, our department is seen as the top group in the company, everyone is raving about our work. I want you to build me a model that shows one thing we did to get there”. There might be a bit of clarification as to what the “one thing” could be (an idea, a practice ,etc), but soon, everyone in the room is building away.
After a few minutes, the facilitator askes everyone to finish up, and begins asking if anyone wants to go first. The instructions are to give your model a name, and explain to the group what it represents. Others are allowed to ask questions after the builder is finished speaking, with the rule that they are not allowed to give their own interpretation of the model. It belongs to the builder, theirs is the only interpretation that counts. The result is 100% participation, a number of ideas from the group, and a list of things that the group holds important (possibly also answers to what went wrong). 100% active participation, no “checking out”, no phones, no “what Bill said”.
The theory works for any type of question, from the mundane to the ultra-serious. LSP is used in everything from Business innovation to therapy to team building. Even if your group has no hurdles or issues to solve, it’s a great sounding board for where people’s heads are at.
I’m hoping to share the workshops with dozens of people in Calgary, and come up with some insights for my experiment, and that your group might be interested in participating. You can feel free to frame the session as a team building exercise, a training session, an employee treat, or any way you’d like. The flexibility of the method allows me to improvise and cater the session to the specifics of what your group needs.
To sign up for a workshop, simply click this link.
A bit more on LSP and me follows.
What is LEGO Serious Play?
LEGO Serious Play is a technique/method that can be applied to a variety of problem solving situations to provide clear and concise answers through Visual Collaboration.
LEGO Serious Play takes participants through a series of fun and creative building exercises that bring 100% participation and allows Open Communication everyone at the table a chance to be part of the conversation.
LEGO Serious Play is a visual collaboration tool that provides Rapid Prototyping for ideas and processes, and allows participants to immediately see potential benefits and flaws in existing plans.
LEGO Serious Play is a literal Team Building tool that engages your entire group, and brings everyone to a common space where ideas and theories can be easily shared.
(Created by Eleanor Livermore and Chrissi Nerantzi at the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at MMU.)
Dave Ware is a trainer/facilitator with an avid interest in the concept of “Play”. He’s also a Certified Lego Serious Play facilitator. Dave has 30 years of experience in improvisation with some of the leading minds in the field. Dave has been creating LEGO Mosaics since 2006. Over the last 10 years, he has created over 120 LEGO mosaics. Known for his pop culture and celebrity mosaics, Dave has built pieces for Academy Award winners, television personalities, and cultural icons. Peter Dinklage called Dave’s work “Brilliant”. Richard Taylor (CEO of Weta Workshop) called his work “Exquisite”.
“The elegant simplicity of Lego Serious Play represents the type of visual collaboration tools necessary to help leadership teams to explore and communicate vital ideas in our increasingly complex and competitive world. Dave’s mastery is well worth the time to explore.”
— Sean Young, Entrepreneur of the Year, Top 40 Under 40
“A seriously fun way to explore ideas, innovate and understand how your colleagues think. Dave’s facilitation is invaluable – highly recommended.”
— Neville Chamberlain, Founder and Chief Modeller, Britewrx
“The Lego Serious Play methodology was exactly what I was hoping for to bring our group together—Dave’s ability to connect with an extremely diverse group and facilitate spirited and meaningful dialogue was extraordinary.”
— Michael Dean Dargie, Egomaniacal Productions Ltd.
The Small Experiments Workshops were made possible by a grant from Calgary Arts Development.