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The Magic of Lego Serious Play – 1) Trust The Bricks

Lego Serious Play Magic

A while ago during a Lego Serious Play demo someone asked me: “What is the magic behind Lego Serious Play?”.

It’s a good question and over the coming week or so I am going to try to explain it in a series of short articles dealing with specific aspects of this “magic”.

The Magic of Lego Serious Play 1) «Trust the bricks. The answer is there!”

I know it sounds strange. Perhaps even a little esoteric – perhaps even “Jedi-like”. It is however true. Let me explain.

One of the phrases a Lego Serious Play facilitator uses a lot is “don’t have a meeting with yourself – build!”. Normally when asked a question that requires some degree of reflection we stop, think and then respond verbally. The process repeats itself thousands of time throughout each day. Sometimes we think more, sometimes we think less but the process is natural and so frequent that we almost always tap into our brains via the same route. That means that the possibility of theanswer being conditioned by a specific way of thinking is very high.

With Lego Serious Play we stop this traditional way of thinking and we make participants touch the bricks to find the answer. Our brains of course keep thinking. It would be impossible to turn off that process. However, when that thought process is combined with looking at and touching Lego bricks of different colours, shapes and sizes (bricks that have been specially chosen so we can easily converted them into metaphors), the bricks themselves inspire thoughts and answers. You see brick in front of you, you touch it, you try to link it to the question, you combine it with more and more bricks and before you know it, you have used your hands and your brain together to build the answer in a model. In doing this you are drawing on a different part of your brain – a more creative and visual side. This can be the difference between a normal idea and a brilliant idea. It can be the difference between a conditioned and rehearsed personal reflection and one that is more honest and free of judgement.

It doesn’t stop there. After building, when participants tell their story and describe the model, the process continues. Talking about the bricks and the model is like going over your thoughts again and almost always participants find new meaning to what they have built and adapt their story. Bricks that at first had no meaning take one on now and others change from one idea to another. All this because the brain is still being inspired visually (and now enhanced because we are in story telling mode – another part of the magic).

It doesn’t stop there. When others ask questions about a model and what they see, this provokes another round of reflection in the person who built it and many participants end up finding new meanings and metaphors. Many make changes to their models at this stage.

To clarify -we don’t use Lego bricks or Lego Serious Play to analyse how people think. It is an incredibly visual and creative way of provoking alternative thought and as a result it yields different answers.

Without a doubt, part of its magic lies in trusting the bricks”.


www.considiom.com , Madrid.



Creativity = 1% Inspiration / 99% Perspiration

During a thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting “Innovation and Creativity day” at the Escuela de Organización Industrial, Madrid (www.eoi.es) Rafael Arbide gave a presentation on the creativity and innovation process. His presentation in general, and specifically the approach for documenting, prioritising and tracking both problems and the solutions highlighted the fact that “Creativity = 1% Inspiration / 99% Perspiration” rule is all too valid.

As a concrete example llustration of that rule, I was reminded of an interview with David Gilmour, ex-guitarist with the legendary British rock band Pink Floyd. The Pink Floyd song Comfortably Numb from the album The Wall features on many lists as one of the best rock songs of all time and the long guitar solo at the end is regularly voted one of the best rock guitar solos of all time. We might be tempted to think that this solo was an inspirational piece of improvisation done in a moment and something that just flowed from David Gilmour’s guitar. In fact it was a clear example of inspiration/genius combined with a clear process and work. As David says:

“I just went out into the studio and banged out 5 or 6 solos. From there I just followed my usual procedure, which is to listen back to each solo and mark out bar lines, saying which bits are good. In other words, I make a chart, putting ticks and crosses on different bars as I count through: two ticks if it’s really good, one tick if it’s good and cross if it’s no go. Then I just follow the chart, whipping one fader up, then another fader, jumping from phrase to phrase and trying to make a really nice solo all the way through. That’s the way we did it on ‘Comfortably Numb.’ It wasn’t that difficult. But sometimes you find yourself jumping from one note to another in an impossible way. Then you have to go to another place and find a transition that sounds more natural.”

The chart and the ticking of the boxes exercise is very similar to the steps outlined by Rafael Arbide in his presentation.

In other words Creativity and Innovation = 1% Inspiration / 99% Perspiration and it needs a process.