Recently I went through a session using the Lego Serious Play Methodology for team building. I’ve been through several type exercises before so I expected this to not be that thrilling, but I was surprised.
Being a life long fan of Legos, I instantly identified with the exercise. I spent hours of my childhood and even adolescence playing with both legos and kinex models at home. The idea of building something from nothing and learning how things work was amazing to me. Relating this back to the team building activity I’m talking about, it used that experience of learning and expressing by doing. One of the core concepts behind this process is to unleash the subconscious parts of your mind by working with the bricks in your hands. I know this sounds like both metaphyiscs and science fiction, but it really makes sense. When you work with your hands you use different parts of your brain than you do if you just talk. Working with the Legos in the exercise forces you to conceptualize and build things in ways you wouldn’t have in a regular meeting.
The way the Lego Serious Play Methodology works is basically each team member is given a bag of Legos. Everyone has the same Legos so they all have the same bricks to build with etc. Next the instructor walks the team through a set of exercises that use the bricks. At first you just are given basic things to build without much instruction. Then once you’re familiar with the bricks, you are given tasks to build something that expresses how you feel. Again, I know it sounds like crazy talk but it really works. Working with the team I was with and walking through these exercises really helps to break the ice and express yourself in ways you didn’t before. Further, having the bricks as an expressive medium allows you to explain things that you may not have been able to do as well with words.
The other component to this training was that it was just fun. There were no slide decks and no spreadsheets. It was a fun exercise that got your team talking without a lot of the regular forced collaboration you normally see in a business setting. What’s more was that the team I was with got a lot out of the exercise. It wasn’t just a fun day, we actually made progress in being able to talk about how we felt about how our team was doing and ways to improve.
Several large companies use this methodology for development and as a way to work through tasks. I provided the links below with more info on how this works and some of the science behind it.
Checkout the video here that gives a good explanation (note I’m not endorsing Rex Associates and only got this video from a quick YouTube search):