It might surprise you to learn that LEGO® offers a training program to instructors of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® , the only LEGO® endorsed form of professional development using their name.  I recently had the opportunity to join in a session and am here to tell you that everyone can learn from LEGO®.

Through this facilitated play, you can discover a great deal about your employees, clients ~  even target audience ~ by how they respond to creative activity.

My 'self discovery' experience began at 8 am in a meeting room at the Sheraton Springfield, where I arrived to find an unopened LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® kit placed at each seat at the banquet table.

Our first activity involved opening the kit, identifying a model we wanted to build from a booklet, and under rapid fire, complete it.  I utterly botched my first building assignment and realized why it was called 'serious play.'  After some discussion and continued modification to our models, our group moved to an empty table where all nine participants faced one another awaiting our directions.  Our kits set aside, we would now have access to 3 buffet tables piled with LEGO® pieces. Having just showed this group of strangers how poorly I executed the first assignment, I was determined to do better, disturbed by what went wrong...(I can be a tad bit competitive.)

Contrary to my initial failure, over the next 5 hours, I successfully ~ and joyfully ~ built a series of models in response to prompts, including:
  • 3 of my strengths
  • 3 of my weaknesses 
  • how am I different 
  • 3 things I should do 
  • how can I set myself apart 
  • what do others expect of me 
  • 3 of my best attributes 
  • 2 things I like about and dislike about my job
  • where I aspire to be in a year
  • what support do I need to get there etc.  
So what did all of this 'serious play' mean? It was evident I failed miserably when asked to build an awkward looking creature, using an ugly color pallet, following unattractive illustrations from an instruction booklet.  I excelled when offered unlimited color choices, shapes and options to create my own models.  On the surface, someone might call that attention deficit disorder...or a big fat excuse for not following directions.

On the contrary,  I related the feelings I had during the different activities to those I experience during my work day.  When I consider the tasks I dislike, they often involve software applications with unattractive user interfaces (UI).  Tasks such as bank reconciliation or paying bills are associated with a gray scale in my mind.  In contrast, those applications with friendly UIs, I look forward to interacting with.  Any form of creative work, even under deadline, feels good.  This also extends to work environment where I feel most comfortably surrounded with color and creative images to look up at when pausing from my work. 

Having gone through this LEGO® experience, I recognize and better understanding my preferences.  This allows me to consciously re-framing the activities I need to perform with greater awareness of my emotional response and it has removed the previously undefined 'dread' I associated with some activities.  For others in the group, discoveries about procrastination, imbalance of work and personal life, need to change career and how best to handle difficult co-workers were revealed by their play.

Whether seeking team building for your staff, or better understanding of yourself,  I recommend you look into a full day workshop of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.   

This is an enlightening way to help employees identify their strengths and consider how best to align those in the work place.  For group dynamics and team building, it’s an eye opening experience for co-workers to learn more about one another and open lines of communication.  And on the chance you're building a software application, you might want to add a bit of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® to your user interface research!

For more information, visit facilitator Gail Kulas's website Leading to Unlock.