Play to change
Lego© Serious Play©

Next to the buzzwords design thinking, service design, iteration and experimentation, there is another interesting upcoming topic within businesses: bringing fun and play to the workplace (e.g. companies install ping-pong tables at the office). However, next to improving the attractiveness as an employer and the mental wellbeing of employees, the concept of play has more to offer. Play can stimulate creativity, improve group dynamics, solve complex questions and drive innovation.  


Therefore, Fæbric offers different tools and approaches to include ‘play to change’ in organizations. In this article, we highlight one of these tools and approaches: Lego© Serious Play© (LSP). Also, we explain how we applied Lego© Serious Play© at an organizational change project at NS (Dutch railways).  


What is Lego© Serious Play©?  

Lego© Serious Play© is a method developed to tackle complex problems and questions. During an LSP workshop, participants are invited to build (a piece of) the solution to a question with use of Lego© bricks. With a structured approach that involves storytelling and play, the participants cooperate on a narrative that brings them closer towards answering the complex question. 

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Prototyping the new organization

After the concept design phase of the ComIT organizational change project at NS (Dutch railways), it was time to prototype the new organization. Each (new) team, represented by a few people, took part in a six-week prototyping trajectory. In the second week of this trajectory, they prototyped their team with use of Lego© Serious Play©. The goal of the LSP sessions was to get a better understanding of the concept design, to challenge it and to enrich it.  


In order to do this, we used the first three (of the seven) Lego© Serious Play© application techniques: 


1. Building individual models

Each participant builds a model.  
Next to the individual models that turned into a shared model, these are examples of individual models that were built:  

- Client questions 
- Stakeholders and/or influencers 
- Products & services 
- Expertise 
- Culture and/or mindset 

2. Building shared models

The most important elements of the individual models are highlighted and put into a shared model. More elements may be added until the team feels that the model and the narrative are complete.  
Examples of shared models that were built: 
- Purpose 
- Culture 
- Aspirational persona 


3. Creating a landscape

The shared and individual models are placed in relation to each other to create one big ecosystem.  
The typical landscapes that were built, had one shared model (i.e. the purpose) in the middle. The other individual models were placed around this shared model. The individual models that were most relevant to the shared model, were placed closest to the shared model in the middle.  

Next to the participants, the following people were present during the LSP sessions: facilitator (certified LSP expert), prototyping coach (knowledge about the design of the organizational change) and a documenter (documents all the LSP models and uploads everything to the team site on the realization platform). 

Realization platform

The outcomes of the LSP sessions were documented on a realization platform where each team got their own prototyping page.  


The different types of models were documented in the following way: 


Individual models

Each individual model (that did not turn into a shared model), was labelled with a post-it that contained one or two words to describe the model. Individual models with the post-its attached were individually photographed.  

Shared models

The shared models were the most important. Therefore, these were documented in elaborate steps: 

1. One of the team members explained the shared model, which was video (and audio) recorded. This was repeated until each team member was satisfied with one of the recordings that told the story of their shared model.  


2. The audio of the chosen recording of the shared model was transcribed. This was used to tell the story in a clean written text.  


3. The written text was used to identify all the different elements of the shared model. These different elements were individually photographed. Together with the written text these photographs formed a document that visually and verbally told the story.  


4. The individually photographed elements also got their own ‘card’. This card contained the photograph itself, the title of the element, a description of the element and some meta data (date, team, model, relation to the design challenge).  


The landscapes were video (and audio) recorded while one of the participants explained the landscapes. 

Example of a team page on the realization platform

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After the LSP sessions, the team could work further on what they produced during the LSP prototyping sessions on the realization platform. Having this central place of communication and interaction, made it possible for other teams or interested people to follow the activity of the prototyping teams. 


Authors: Roy Scheerder, Xenia Zürn

Please contact Roy Scheerder or Christof Zürn for an open dialogue on applying ‘play to change’ to your business challenge.