We spend a large part of our time at meetings. How often do you dread walking to your next one because most of the time, only 20% of the folks dominate the conversation 80% of the time?
Ever since I was trained in 2016 by one of the few trainers who originally worked on Lego Serious Play when Lego was reinventing themselves, I have been intrigued by how meetings could be different when you give everyone the time and the space to co-create the agenda.
From 80-20 to 100-100
Instead of the normal type of meetings, I chose the Lego Serious Play as a process to get everyone on board to re-imagine the next chapter of National Primary Games Creation Competition organised by Wellington Primary School where I was principal. I also used it to guide the conversations around the future directions of the school as my 7-year term of office was coming to an end. At MOE HQ, particularly Educational Technology Division, I was the in-house advocate and practitioner of Lego Serious Play for envisioning of the type of future we want to create. There was even an opportunity to conduct a session for Civil Service College to facilitate a discussion around the design of e-learning experience for the future although that was a very condensed version. Invariably, all the meetings saw 100% participation despite the limitation of time and large number of participants. The process usually saw a shared model or landscape that reflected everyone's voices and contributions.
Personal Metaphorical Stories
One of the basic exercises to get the team started is to have everyone build a model that represents how they feel at the start of the day. This allows participants to translate abstract emotional concepts like happiness into a concrete representation. Soon participants will start to use metaphors to talk about their feelings or other abstract ideas. The power of such a move is to engage each member at a deeper and often creative levels of storytelling. The invitational nature of the process creates a safe space for individuals to share their stories regardless of fluency or creativity. The process ensures that when you tell your story with your model, however fluent you are, all the rest of the team has to listen to you.
Let the hands lead the thinking
However, storytelling is hard for some people. If the work you do does not involve storytelling, it is likely that you will not enjoy telling a story of how you feel to a bunch f colleagues let alone strangers you just met. Yet the power of letting your hands do that thinking and lead the talking somehow enabled most people to just show and tell whatever they have constructed. After a few rounds of skillsbuilding, most participants will feel comfortable telling a simple story with a model they have created.
As the team progresses to the more complex agenda of the issue or problem of the day, letting the hands lead the thinking become a very powerful way to get everyone engaged in thinking together. In traditional problem solving team meetings, you may find a few experts driving the conversation. In Lego Serious Play, an expert is entitled the same amount of time as a novice in the issue or problem. We are told that whenever the team or individual is not sure what to do, just build. The flow of building after basic skillsbuilding is completed will facilitate flow of ideas coming from our hands. The results are often surprising and energising!
To conclude, Lego Serious Play is a powerful way for teams to engage in 100-100 meeting. It creates a safe space for novice and experts alike to share their ideas through the models they built. Trusting their hands do the thinking and talking about what their hands built facilitates a flow that works creatively and magically.
If you are keen to learn about the power of Lego Serious Play to improve engagement of team discussions or to unlock the potential of your team in problem solving, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.