This is article is a little longer than my usual blogs – it is a review of a recent LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® session that I facilitated. I’ve not written previously about LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY® methodology. This link to a page on my website provides detail what this methodology is about and its applications.
Following an introduction to the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology demonstration that I had run in Cape Town, an interesting request came my way. The question asked was “Can we use LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology as part of an assessment process we have in place for potential interns?”. In my training for my accreditation, I'd not come across this application of the LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY® methodology.
However, there was no way I was going to say no to the challenge! I did some research and looked at all the resources available me as a certified facilitator in the LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY method and came across a few articles and case studies. However, there wasn’t an extensive body of reference available. So, to my big box of LEGO® I went, and after a day or so and numerous test builds and rebuilds later I had a scope and outcomes, plus a workshop design.
A workshop design is my guide of the questions, flow and timing of the LSP workshop, it’s not shared with the participants, in training and development circles this would be the training plan. Part of this process is getting to grips with the outcomes the client is seeking and then testing the “buildability” of the question. Essentially I build a model in response to the question I intend asking to see if a model can be built. This is the fun part – I get to play with LEGO® (very seriously of course!) as part of my day.
The client’s requirements were:
Create an environment that allows the individuals to assessed independently and as part of a team. 2-3 observers from human resources and leadership will be in the workshop space for the duration of the workshop
Create an environment that requires participants to be spontaneous and provide natural versus prepared responses. The questions that will be posed for each building challenge are not provided to the participants before the session so it would not possible to prepare for this assessment
Onto the workshop. The interns in question are vacation students studying law. Being successful in the assessments and interviews at the time of their vacation work could mean a highly coveted place at a top-notch law firm to do their legal articles on completion of their studies. They would be a studious, rather serious group of individuals who are not scared of hard work and long hours if my limited experience of people in the legal profession was anything to go by.
The interns walked into the room and I watched the mixed reactions as they saw the LEGO® on the tables. I asked them to take a seat and mentioned they could put their pens and paper away, they would not be required to make any notes for the next couple of hours. There were some smiles, some frowns and a few looks of blind panic!
What ensued was about 2 and ½ hours where the interns were asked series of questions and asked to build a LEGO® model in response to a question I asked. First, we did some introductory building of LEGO® models to get everyone comfortable then we headed into the deeper questions that required some self-reflection and then onto some group work building challenges.
The first set of questions were individual building challenges and required self-reflection from the interns as they related to their future selves as well as past challenges and how they have faced and overcome them. I was surprised at the level of vulnerability shown by, what in my view, would be a set of highly competitive legal students. I think some of the interns were surprised at how much they shared. The magic of this methodology is that everyone must participate in every part of the session and it breaks down language, cultural and experience barriers by creating a level platform that everyone starts from. LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY® stimulates conversations, opens thinking pathways for new ideas (or maybe locked away ideas) and actively engages all the participants.
Through a series of building and sharing challenges, the skills such as self-awareness, resilience, focus, negotiation skills, collaboration and communication skills amongst others could be assessed by the client.
The result, a very successful workshop in my opinion. The feedback I received has corroborated my opinion of the workshop. The group got used to concept quickly, by the second ‘warm-up' build they were all engaged and participating actively. The observers got an opportunity to see a more ‘unscripted’ side of the interns due to the nature of the LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY® methodology as no preparation was possible. Unlike interviews where the interns can prepare how to respond to certain questions. The motivation for trying a new aspect to the assessment process was to move away from the canned responses heard in interviews in previous intakes and get to know the interns in a more relaxed environment. Feedback from of the participants was very positive and they really enjoyed the process, one participant said he felt more connected to his colleagues post the session.
In closing, I was extremely pleased with the outcome of the session and the power of this methodology was reinforced to me yet again. It creates a safe space where barriers to open and honest communication are broken down and participants are free to express themselves and their thoughts through storytelling using a 3D LEGO® model as their metaphor. One participant had never played with LEGO® as a child or adult and wasn’t certain how it all locked in etc., by the end of the session he was building incredibly detailed models. No prior experience of LEGO® is required to participate in a LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY® workshop.
If you want to find out more about LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY® and its range of applications for your business, join me for an 80-minute hands-on, interactive session in Cape Town where I explain the science and craft behind LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY® with practical demonstrations of the methodology.
Date : 15th March 2017
Time : 9:00 to 10:30
Venue : Cape Town Southern Suburbs - To Be Confirmed Soon
Email Michelle to reserve a seat