A seminar with Lego blocks might also be employed when a project team hits a stumbling block. A company that has offices in various locations might have people come together in a Lego Serious Play workshop to figure out ways those offices can communicate better. One high-tech company used the workshop to try to spark a change in its culture and find ways to help women stay in high technology.
Denio said that at one company she worked with, a team of engineers was having trouble attracting clients, so they built figures of chickens that they then launched, expressing in three dimensions their fear of going out and looking for new business.
Lego play can solve one of the most vexing problems businesses and organizations face: meetings in which a few dominate and most sit back passively.
Many in meetings are also constrained by “imagined or perceived power positions.” For instance, younger people won’t talk if an older person is talking. If people lean back at a meeting, that means they are not engaged. Often, however, the shyest person in the room has the best ideas.
In a Lego Serious Play workshop, there’s no chance of people sitting on their hands. The exercise also forces participants to use both sides of their brains — the creative side and the analytic side — because one uses both hands to build.
The first challenge the participants faced was to build a tower, then to simply share what went through their minds as they built it.
“My guy is going off a diving board,” said Gayla Bartlett, the president of North Shore Women in Business and manager of Cranney Self Storage in Danvers. Bartlett had constructed a tower with a piece jutting out and a figure standing on it. “He’s going to take the plunge and go.”