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LEGO® Serious Play ® allows organization to adapt their processes to today competitive market in real time. It is easier to design strategies involving all the key persons in the organization, at all levels, in all departments. It is the true way of exploiting the existing talents in organizations. Because the focus of LEGO® Serious Play® is people, not the group. It involves everyone in the decision-making process, increasing the likelihood that all participants will share and commit workshop results.

These are the main considerations that arise from an interview I recently released at the Murate Idea Park in Florence. In the same venue, on March 28th I will lead a LEGO® Serious Play® Workshop for building the Value proposition.

The interview of Dario Carotenuto.

Often when we have a business idea or we have just created one of our startups, we cannot materialize it or anyway visualize a clear identity and a solid value proposition.

What then can be the methods and techniques to focus it and prepare to go on the market? We talked about it with Fabrizio Faraco, project management expert and LEGO® Serious Play ® Facilitator.

1 Fabrizio Faraco, Lego® Serious Play® Facilitator, mentor, project manager, trainer and communicator, what is your favorite title and why?

What I like most is facilitator. In my life I have experienced different roles. In the last period as a consultant I was an expert, trainer, coach and facilitator. The difference between the different roles can be summarized as follows:

  • Expert – When the project needs knowledge
  • Trainer – When the knowledge needs to be conveyed
  • Coach – When knowledge needs to be learned from experience
  • Facilitator – When solutions need to be developed and implemented from the active participation of members

I like the role of facilitator because I help the participants to bring out their solutions, solutions that they embrace and that will therefore applied into daily practice, much more than any brilliant plan from an expert.

LEGO® Serious Play®

2 LEGO® Serious Play® is now a popular methodology to facilitate creative thinking. But, for those wishing to approach this concept, what is it in the specific and how it is born?

LEGO® Serious Play® is a technique for thinking, communicating and solving problems using models built with LEGO® bricks. These models are used as 3D metaphors for interaction between participants, where all participants express their point of view in response of a series of open questions posed by the facilitator. They do this by constructing a model and then telling how this model represents the answer to the question posed by the facilitator.

This not only guarantees that everybody participate (everyone builds and everyone talks), but prevents participants from lining up beyond others’ opinion expressed, guaranteeing better ideas and more rich possible solutions.

The method was born in LEGO® at the end of the 90s, when the company facing a creepy strategic scenario (end of the patent and simple and already replicated production process with lower costs of an order of magnitude in Asia) activated a global strategic process inside. From an idea of two professors from Lausanne, Robert Rasmussen and Per Kristiansen developed a, proprietary, method extremely effective, flexible and widespread.

Serious Play in organizations

3 The so-called “serious play” therefore becomes a tool and a lever to develop and identify business ideas within organizations. How much can managers or “traditional” companies benefit from this benefit?

More and more managers and entrepreneurs need to act in a world that becomes more complex. The traditional “waterfall” techniques, that is, where very accurate multi-year plans were made are more and more ineffective (and inefficient).

It becomes necessary to manage and understand complexity. Within the company there is a need for authentic leadership; a leadership capable of involving all the talents in order to make the solutions emerge from everyone, in particular from those closer to the customers.

LEGO® Serious Play ® is therefore more suitable for this scenario:

  • it is a Plan-Do-Plan-Do-Plan-Do technique
  • 3D models make it easier to manage complexity for strategic or decision-making purposes.
  • Strategic results are obtained in a few days, compared to months of consulting initiatives whose results often come when the situation has changed.
  • Involving everyone give voice to the lonely guys and the silent heros; those who often have already implemented the most effective solutions.

In short, with LEGO® Serious Play® it is easier to activate processes of organizational change towards models that are more suited to the competitive situation. It is easier for everyone to make strategy.

The situation in Italy

4 In Italy this method has spread since the early 2010s. What is the situation now?

master trainers Per Kristiansen Robert RasmussenThe spread until 2014 was rather marginal. Since the Association of Master Trainers (the one founded by Robert Rassmussen and Per Kristiansen) has spread the certification training and the number of facilitators has exceeded the critical mass. From than significant results and specific projects have multiplied. Today we can count on a community of about 10,000 facilitators operating in all the countries of the world and in all sectors of human activities.

This community (together, of course, a robust and constantly evolving method) is true strength of our association. We are able to work together on a global level, each of us is always able to ask for comfort from an expert in the sector (or in the industry or individual initiative) who has already worked in a continuous peer learning process.

For those wishing to pursue a career, I recommend going to the http://seriousplay.training website to check out the next training session. The first thing to do, though, is questioning whether its facilitation skills (such as knowledge and experiences to put into play) are sufficient to offer value to potential customers.

The workshop in Florence

5 On March 28th at the Murate Idea Park in Florence there will be a workshop dedicated to the creation of the value proposition using LEGO® Serious Play®. Murate Idea Park aims to develop business ideas to companies in their first mile. Are there different degrees of workshops even for already established start-ups?

The definition of a value proposition is absolutely necessary during startup, but it is not exclusive to start-ups. All companies, even multinational companies shall always ask themselves and adapt their value proposition to an ever changing world.

As said LEGO® employ LEGO® Serious Play® method in the late 90’s (when not only had the market changed – with the entry of giants like Sony and Microsoft as competitors, but the product itself had changed -from toy to play time) and it became a standard practice within the company. A practice that applied in 2009 allow LEGO to completely restructured the company and the brand making the processes guided by its fans.

Hard fun

6 For sure, as LEGO® Serious Play® Facilitator you will have seen many funny situations with your own eyes. Can you tell us the one that impressed you the most?

I’ve experienced the last one just on yesterday. I was dealing with a team of middle managers. In every workshop there is always someone very skeptical (on LEGO®, on the game, on the story, on not feeling up). As the workshop developed, I saw the skeptic guy grew in his driving ability and become the leader of the group: something that make me feel very joyful.

It is the making of something that you read only in books and that Tim Brown (IDEO boss) defines as “More importantly, talking to Extreme users can spark your creativity by exposing you to use cases, hacks, and design opportunities that you’d never have imagined.”

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