LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for Teams – Interview by Madeleine Lang

by Jul 21, 2021English, video & podcast

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY in Teams // Interview // Madeleine Lang und Matthias Renner

Madeleine Lang of Creative Leadership Hub interviewed me about how to use LEGO SERIOUS PLAY in teams.

Why does #LEGOSERIOUSPLAY get participants so involved in their workshops? Why is this important and downright necessary teams? And what does all this have to do with lightness and self-efficacy?

If you want to know more about Madeleine Lang …

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY in a Team – Interview by Madeleine Lang

Madeleine Lang: You are trained in a method we are talking about today, namely LEGO SERIOUS PLAY. Many people know LEGO, but what is LEGO SERIOUS PLAY? What is it? What does it do?

When you play with LEGO, you are building stories or models of the real world. In LEGO SERIOUS PLAY, we build things that are intangible. For example, trust or even a strategy for the next year. These things are not tangible and I can work on them so wonderfully with LEGO SERIOUS PLAY. The whole thing works in such a way that one person, the so-called facilitator, leads through the workshop. The facilitator asks the participants a question and each participant builds a model for him- or herself. After everyone has built, the story is shared. So what do we see in the model? What does my model ultimately represent?

Many people know this only too well and I think this is where LEGO SERIOUS PLAY plays a great role: As a facilitator or leader, you have the challenge of keeping everyone’s share of the discussion balanced so that everyone is involved in the meeting. How can LEGO SERIOUS PLAY help?

20% of the participants use 80% of the speaking time to tell what they have always told and what everyone knows they always tell because they really do it every time. As a result, no one listens any more and if anything is decided, at the latest at the coffee machine they say: “It won’t work anyway!”, “If I had been asked” or something similar. The disaster is that 80% of the people in the room are not heard and do not contribute to the solution. That’s what we do without. We are often not even aware of the incredible amount of resources that are lost as a result. With this method, it works differently.

Something that I notice in meetings with teams and that I also talk about with many leaders is the issue of listening. It seems that we have forgotten how to listen or that it is very difficult for us to really listen. In a conversation with you about LEGO SERIOUS PLAY, you said listening with your eyes – I found that fascinating. What do you mean by that?

When we listen to someone else, we always have our own images in our head and we overlay that with the information, with what we hear and build our own images. With LEGO SERIOUS PLAY, you can use a model to show exactly what we mean, like here in this model about trust….

That’s what I think is so wonderful about LEGO SERIOUS PLAY, that you have this model and can depict this metaphor so clearly. Among other things, that’s what makes it so unique for me.

I met you during a digital zoom into this method and you also offer this in the form of meetups. There I felt that the method goes very deep (in the sense of profound) very quickly, without being pathetic. It is a challenge to create such an atmosphere of psychological security in workshops where this is possible at all. I found that really fascinating, as did other participants. What fascinates you most about LEGO SERIOUS PLAY?

What fascinates and touches me most about LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is creating this mutual understanding. That is the basis for me. Everyone is heard and everyone is understood. This results in the openness that you experience in the workshop. Because nothing can be questioned, this security arises and then the mutual learning from each other begins. This also creates a special energy in the room. On the other hand, it also makes it exhausting for the participants and also for the facilitator.

“Managers who build with blocks” is the title of an interview you gave in Business Punk. And that hits the nail on the head, so to speak. It’s a prejudice that playing and working don’t go together in executive offices. Can you take a stand on that?

Yes, the article was written by Insa Schniedermeier. Are we allowed to play? Are we allowed to play manager? Should we play manager? During the game, we take a break from reality and immerse ourselves in the game. That is, when we play, we are in the flow and forget everything that is happening around us. We concentrate fully on the game and when we play we can also test solutions to problems that seem unsolvable or too complex in reality.

You can test this wonderfully in the game. Nothing happens. And you can draw conclusions that you can implement in reality. When you learn something, you need about 400 repetitions until the synapses become firmly established. In the game, we are talking about 10-20 repetitions until you have internalised something.

LEGOS SERIOUS PLAY is a method where things are put on the table. Once the models are on the table, you can’t sweep them under the carpet. And that is why you need courageous leaders who allow things to be put on the table and who can deal with honesty.

Then our video today is aimed at courageous leaders. You have a background in IT. There, more and more teams are working in a self-organised way without the classic manager. How can LEGO SERIOUS PLAY support this? A big topic is also decision-making in teams. If there is no longer a manager to decide, how can LEGO SERIOUS PLAY support?

For example, in the case of decision-making with a team, you could build what is the most important component for the individual people participating in the workshop to be able to make decisions. When these results are on the table, I would arrange them in such a way that through the closeness and the distance you again get a statement of what is important for the whole team and for making decisions.

You are already talking about the process in a very concrete way and you have also brought something with you. Maybe now is a good time to look at how individual models are transferred into a landscape… Maybe you can describe what we see here?

… (feel free to look at the video below)…

Are there limits to LEGO SERIOUS PLAY? Things that can’t be implemented so well?

Well, LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is certainly not useful for a question where you already know what the answer should be. I get far too many options on the table in such a case. LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is for really complex questions where I need an overview of the whole situation. And where I need to get the ideas, the opinions, perhaps the feelings and the views of other participants out of my head and onto the table, then LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is perfect.

If you could wish for something from companies, organisations, leaders, teams in terms of play and in terms of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY what would it be?

In an ideal world, I would wish for companies to play a lot more, to involve their employees a lot more, for their employees to have a lot more sense of self-efficacy. Together with their employees, they transcend boundaries in play, get into the flow and find completely different ways to solve their problems, their questions – very simply and very playfully and make complex things simple. That’s what I wish for.

That is a very beautiful closing word. Thank you very much for being here today Matthias. If you liked this video, please let us know in the comments. Give us a Like or subscribe to the channel and if you would like to know more about LEGO SERIOUS PLAY and how it can help you in your organisation, then take a look at Matthias’ homepage, which we will also link to you. Thank you very much and see you next time.


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LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for Teams – Interview by Madeleine Lang (Interview is in German)

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