6 Lego® Serious Play® workshops in 4 of the 5 main towns of Lazio (the region of Rome), involving over 200 volunteers of the civil service at the end of their missions in a project called #inprospettiva performed together with Simona Orlandi e Rachele Soliera. The workshop explicit objectives were to bring volunteers from different organizations together and to share their achievements coming from their personal experiences. These objective have been achieved thanks to the innovative methodology of Lego® Serious Play®.
Lego® Serious Play® method is a facilitated thinking, communication and problem solving technique to use with organizations, teams and individuals. It employs Lego® bricks and elements to help participants “to think with the hands” generating insight, awareness and engagement. In Lego® Serious play® method each participant builds 3D models used as visual metaphors to answer to facilitator series of questions. Building 3D models and the associated storymaking process involves all aspects of the human dimension (rational, emotional, and instinctual). So 3D metaphors are used to solve strategic and internal problems of any organization (a company or a team).
The choice of this methodology has been made because it allows all the participants to express themselves (also thanks to the sense of illusion and exaggeration that a game mindset stimulates) and to share experiences and learnings of the experience in the civil service mission.
The words that emerged from these workshops are represented in the figure below
The workshop started with a series of individual models related to the most important thing that everyone has learned from this experience to its aspiration to what this experience will remain with me as a tool for my future life. Then thorough the building of a shared model come up a synthesis of the different individual visions and stories of each participant.
Since the beginning of the workshop the desire to express themselves was very strong. It was the first time ever that volunteers from various organizations got together. Helped by a methodology that invites everyone to participate all participants really expressed their point of view. Even the most skeptical and shy gave their best.
From their stories (and their models) strongly emerged that civil service was the most significant experience in their lives. This experience become a characteristic feature of their identity. They learned a lot of new competences through the civil service.
The majority has described themselves with elements they’ve acquired during the civil service experience. Some have gone even further like a group of three girls who has already set up a formal association to continue to do the work they have done during the civil service, even without a signed contract. Or three guys who want to transform the civil service experience in taking care of mountains paths in their profession.
A couple of stories impressed us: A boy carries on his shoulders “the enrichment of the culture”, while doing his civil service experience at a library; this experience gave him the opportunity to encourage him to increase his culture; another volunteer represented him in a model lying in bed relaxing, then, thanks to the experience in the Civil Service, he understood what “responsibility” means so he left the comfort of his bed to get up in the morning and go to work and meet commitments.
Each story told about challenges overcome (first work experience ever or listening to clients or to people who needed special support), challenges transformed into resources, into competences useful to their professional (and sometime personal) life. Among the most frequent emerged elements there were those linked to keywords such as “courage” and “sacrifice”, “patience”, “support” and “solidarity”. These words represent now skills as new resources they bring in the job they’ll want to do.
Emerged keywords shows the development of “soft” skills, as well as a rise in the awareness that they have added some new bricks useful for live their future: “discovery, believe in myself, abseiling, change, growth and memories, discovery of my being for others, excitement, more security and self-esteem, solidarity, children’s strength, light for the future, friendship, smile at life and learn to live better” among their stories keywords
Among all participants these individual building stages have revealed the most intimate elements that everyone has brought with him from this experience: “improvement”, “growth” and even “control” in the “aim high” were among the most rated.
A sense of how these skills although were important (even when not directly related to the specific professions each one want to pursue) was a common understanding, one of the strongest findings from the entire workshop.
The heart of their experience produced keywords such as: knowledge and information sharing, friendship, change in vision, brotherhood, being discovered, nuance of emotion, union, growth, sacrifice for a just cause, capacity to achieve the goals, sincerity and honesty. A series of words merged in the shared actions producing titles such as: “Personal growth and professional improvement” or “All together for the same goal” or “A bag containing sensitivity, experience and spirit of sacrifice to help people” or “a sensitivity luggage, experience and spirit of sacrifice that represent the path that we have done to help people.“
Building a common story starting from individual element realized a sense of personal growth based upon acquiring soft skills that involves direct growth of professional proficiency. Topics seems just variations of the same sketched by everyone in its core identity. But what was surprising is that the shared model was a combination of core identities which revealed that the same combination exist in each one as a combination of the civil service experience.
Also Remarkable was the emergence of civil service experience as a key element in considering your job as something to build on rather than something to wait for: a transition from employability to entrepreneurship.
It is always amazing to see that the Lego® Serious Play® methodology produce a co-created solution, shared, with total ownership, based on what each individual without any constraint built individually. A complex solution, a shared model with its history achieved together, negotiated in a simple way, that belongs to everyone, something unimaginable at the beginning of the workshop.
To make it more clear let’s use the landscape of shared models in Gaeta as an example: (1) the starting point, i.e. the office where we have applied to participate in the initiative, and the office was already representing the linchpin, the ability to achieve the objectives; (2) the path to the second model tells about personal change and a profession marked by passion and friendship; (3) Then comes the hope (model 4) that adds to friendship and passion, concreteness of the goals achieved and thus opens the door to hope for the future career; (5) the boat of hope that is sailing toward the future driven by friendship, hope (as a different vision of their possibilities), wishes and goals.
The heart of the experience responds to keywords such as: knowledge and information sharing, friendship, change in vision, brotherhood, being discovered, nuance of emotion, union, growth, sacrifice for a just cause, the ability to achieve goals, sincerity and honesty.
The different representations have shown that the civil service has been an extremely positive experience. The lesson learned allowed everyone to embark in a journey of personal growth and, in some cases, even in a professional development. A path that , although full of obstacles will produce a sense of great satisfactions. A journey where the volunteers were able to break down the indifference walls and learn more about themselves and pave the way toward a sound future.
Each participants has confirmed this sense of wealth and address the civil service experience has self-esteem giver. In addition each has reiterated that the experience of a day together was fruitful and enjoyable. Many have experienced this serious game with Lego® as an “experience of experiences”. The key words of what you took away from this experience were: sharing, transparency, enrichment, open community and even fun! The most appropriate conclusion of the day are some of the phrases that have left us by the volunteers:
- “Fun with knowing better the others were an immediate value ..“
- “My impression is that we lived in one day what we have experienced throughout the past year“
- “He left me a sense of serenity and cheeriness, reminding me that behind the simplicity of the game many things and important explanations are hiding down“
This experience fully captures the essence of Lego® Serious Play® methodology: a creative work done by all, growth and awareness for the future as a results to be built, a result of a deeper sharing of experiences by each participant.