On the potential Usage of LEGO Serious Play within Change Management

Recently I had the great opportunity to be involved in some “LEGO SERIOUS PLAY” sessions. Do you know “LEGO SERIOUS PLAY”? No? Well per definition, it is the following: “LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is an innovative, experiential process designed to enhance innovation and business performance. Based on research that shows that this kind of hands-on, minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities, LEGO SERIOUS PLAY deepens the reflection process and supports an effective dialogue – for everyone in the organization.

You could also say that LSP is a tool for Building a Better Business. When we speak or write about complex issues we inevitably simplify and reduce the amount of information in order to make ourselves and our message more easily understood. Especially when discussing business issues, it’s easy to leave out relevant details in order to make the overall picture more clear. In some cases, this simplification is okay – but more often the key to your problem lies in the details.

LSP “gives your brain a hand”. It is a tool that lets your mind form and organize new thoughts. It uses bricks to visualize situations and enhance business performance. The method is based on science and research that show that hands-on, minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities – much more so than listening or reading.

The History of LSP
The first version of the LSP product was launched in late 2001. The idea however started several years earlier. In 1995 the owner and CEO of the LEGO Company, Kjeld Kristiansen was dissatisfied with the results of company’s strategy-making sesseions. While his business was about imagination, the results from these sessions were decidedly unimaginative.

At the same time, two professors from IMD business school in Lausanne, Johan Roos and Bart Victor were also noting the poor results from traditional strategy development techniques. When these parties connected in 1996, they noted their similar dilemmas as well as shared values around people as the key to company success and strategy as something you live as opposed to something stored away in a document. Kjeld agreed to fund research on this problem by creating a separate LEGO subsidiary called Executive Discovery. Over time, the business school professors hit upon the use of building with LEGO bricks as means for tapping into unconscious knowledge that each individual possesses. However, they still had not figured out how to bring their academic interests into the mix of better strategy-making concepts like identity, metaphor, landscape, and simple guiding principles.

A new director of product development for the educational market at LEGO, was brought into the project in 1999 to more systematically investigate the feasibility of using LEGO bricks for strategy development. Once it was realized that these strategy concepts could be more than just theory, the work moved into developing the process itself and to make the results reproducible and the methodology robust. In working with the team at the LEGO Company and with test bed companies outside of the LEGO Company over the course of several years, there were more than twenty iterations of the formal process. As well as being a testament to the rigor with which LSP has been tested, a lot was learned. They also discovered a pattern of working with the bricks that produced consistent results across different groups – an etiquette of sorts on how to facilitate LSP successfully.

Potential LSP applications:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Culture and Change Management
  • Innovation and Product Development
  • Team Building and Team Identity
  • Leadership Development

Strategic Planning
Real Time Strategies are for better and faster decision-making. Leading a business, organization or team today is very similar to driving on an unknown road full of twists and turns. It’s dark. It’s foggy. You can’t stop or slow down, because if you do, you will miss opportunities and goals.

In this kind of situation you have to heed all signs and be ready for the un-expected opportunity around the next turn. You have got to imagine all the possibilities. The more you have thought about what can happen, the more you have tested in your mind what you will do “IF”, the faster and better you will move ahead.

I call this kind of “preparedness” for quick and good decision-making having a Real Time Strategy in place for your company, project, or team. I should be possible to work with organizations to develop Real Time Strategies for:

  • Strategic Planning in a Dynamic Business Landscape
  • Improving Operational Efficiency
  • Innovation Mining
  • Product Developments
  • Employee Involvement and Team Effectiveness

Time savings
Traditional strategic planning takes months – and becomes obsolete with the “blink of an eye” when new opportunities appear. Developing a robust Real Time Strategy that will guide you no matter what arises, only take days. Real Time Strategies improve the speed and quality of your day-to-day as well as your long term decision making. They ensure you are prepared to respond optimally to the unexpected, all the time:

  • tell you where to look, what to focus on when making your choice of action.
  • specify in what spirit and direction your solutions must be chosen to meet your strategic objectives.
  • keep you on track strategically, because they guide everyone’s decisions and actions on-going.

Innovation and Product Development
Imagine an idea generation process that maximizes the full creativity and imagination within your project team. A process that reaps the complete scope of talents and competencies. An approach that engages your imagination about the future – where you will be, what you will sell, how you will do things, how you will work together.

Imagine an innovation process that continuously moves forward towards your goals. A process where everyone is ‘on the same page’, with checkpoints that let you adjust the course so you can achieve your objectives without unnecessary entanglements, misunderstandings, fruitless meetings, loss of time and missed deadlines.

Imagine a result that tells who you are as an organization, when it comes to the quality of your innovation. How willing you are to introduce newness and novelties? Do you climb on others’ backs or are you able to create the future yourself? Do you have ‘sacred cows’ that undermine your innovation and prevent you from the ideal new beginning?

Innovation Mining:
With LSP innovation workshops you are able to address six domains (A – F) that each play their own vital role for a successful innovation within the organization. Within each of the domains tailored workshops that speak directly to your objectives and goals can be picked.

  • A. Attune Norms and Culture: Create shared understanding of what defines the organizations innovation-thinking and innovation-processes.
  • B. Analyze opportunities and define intent: Heed the business landscape and discover where you are, who else is there, how it is changing and where the opportunities are.
  • C. Develop and select ideas: Maximize all the creativity and imagination within your organization or project team. Play out and test multiple scenarios.
  • D. Build Real Teams to drive Innovation projects efficiently in Real Time: Build and maintain teams that will perform effectively without needing well-defined processes. Learn and practice participatory decision-making.
  • E. Develop Real Time Strategies for keeping the Innovation on track: Improve the speed and quality of your day-to-day as well as your long term decision making. Make your processes continuously move forward towards the shared goals and vision.
  • F. Communicating and selling the new idea: Develop and practice story-making and story-telling. Whether the story of the product, the company, or the vision the most powerful story is the one that creates memorable images.

Team Building and Team Identity
Like a seasoned white water crew, executive, management, project teams must operate in a dynamic environment, where objectives and tasks suddenly change dramatically – and repeatedly. The teams must be alert and flexible, share ideas transparently, be self-motivating and comprise individuals who mesh together.

LSP will help you build, revitalize and maintain the kind of teams that will perform effectively without needing well-defined processes, instructions and rules to guide them. LSP lets teams un-stick old habits, resolve disagreements, clarify roles and integrate diverse cultures. For any team things can look and feel complex at ground level. LSP moves your team toward a clear understanding of how it must operate in the future to perform optimally now. As a result of the workshop the team will both have accomplished their acute task objectives and have a strategy for staying on track, so they don’t loose sight of the larger picture or take a wrong turn.

I did a short introduction video on LSP – if you like watch it below!


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