Skills Building – The Foundation of a Successful LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Workshop

by Feb 24, 2021English, Arcticles

Do you remember the last time you were completely absorbed in an activity and didn’t even notice how time passed? Was that an experience you had rather alone or in community with others? Probably it was not a workshop? If it was, there is a good chance that LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) was involved.

In such a workshop, the goal is to work together on a task via various subtasks and to arrive at a solution that all participants support and that is consistently implemented after the workshop. The facilitator (the person who leads through the workshop) has to keep each individual in the flow all the time. Because it is when we are in flow that we forget about time and space and are able to best utilize all of our knowledge and potential.

In order for the flow state to last throughout the workshop, the participants must not get bored. This means that the challenges must become more and more difficult with each subtask. At the same time, however, everyone must be able to trust that they are capable of mastering the tasks set for them. This confidence is acquired in what is known as skills building.

What is Skills Building?

Skills Building is the start of every LSP workshop. In some groups, participants may have just learned that they will be working with LEGO SERIOUS PLAY that day. In other groups, it may have been known before the workshop. In either case, participants can be categorized into three groups:

  • Participants who are looking forward to the workshop and the method and are excited about what will happen.
  • Participants who are more anxious. They may have never built with LEGO bricks before, think they are not creative enough, or think their opinions will not be taken seriously or will be overruled.
  • Participants who are rather bored. Perhaps playing is childish to them or they don’t see a connection to their organization or professional environment. In any case, it feels like a waste of time to them. (see also this blog post).

The goal is to get these three groups on the same page during Skills Building. They are taught how the method works and are told that everyone is creative, heard equally, and each and every opinion and knowledge is relevant. If an attempt were made to save time at this point, different starting conditions for the workshop would automatically result. Participants would not feel comfortable using the method and the potential could never be fully realized.

What do participants learn in Skills Building?

Skills Building consists of a sequence of questions that are worked on by the participants, one after the other. The goal is by no means to jointly develop the big solution to the workshop’s target question. Rather, it is to experience the use of the method and to learn how to express oneself with the stones. If you compare an LSP workshop with a marathon, than the Skills Building is the training phase for the marathon including the warm-up before and the gathering together at the starting line. Without training and not being warmed up, a group can try to run a marathon, but they will never finish.

Skills building begins with the development of technical skills, the actual building with LEGO bricks. For some, the last time they built with LEGO was a long time ago. For others, it may be the first time they have held bricks in their hands. For this reason, a model from the real world is chosen at the beginning that everyone knows and that can be built by each participant without difficulty.

In the next step, the use of metaphors is specifically practiced. Through the use of metaphors, complex facts can be represented with the help of a few stones and additional emotions can be conveyed. With the help of the stones, a 3D print of one’s own thoughts is created, so to speak. Finally, the participants experience that different opinions can exist when answering the same question, each of them equally justified, equally valuable and all of them are given the same space.

Conclusion

During the skills building the participants experience

  • how easy it is to build with LEGO.
  • how LEGO bricks can be used to build three-dimensional models of their own thoughts.
  • that they can think with the help of their hands.
  • how they can express themselves with the help of metaphors.
  • that they can express their views on a topic without being judged by the others.
  • that everyone is 100% involved in the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY workshop.

After these approximately 45-60 minutes, all participants have the courage and confidence to tackle the rest of the workshop together. Everyone is so comfortable with the method that they all share their opinion with the others and are curious to see what the other answers are to the same question. There is openness and genuine communication between the participants, which in turn is the basis for successful collaboration and mutual learning. When is your next LEGO SERIOUS PLAY workshop?

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