24.03.21

Serious Play Online sparks creativity and expands the space for solutions.

For years, working online was an option. This has changed. Now it is a requirement. For companies and organizations to keep the business going, but also to shape the future. It is to be expected that at least hybrid ways of working will continue to exist long after COVID-19 has disappeared.

As an early adopter of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method in the consultancy business, Inthrface started thinking and experimenting around workshop design and delivery in the online workspace. The challenges and questions are numerous: how do we design online workshops that guarantee the involvement and commitment of everyone? How do we develop trust and a sense of belonging in workshops where people are not physically together? How do we tap into the creative potential of people and teams when spontaneous conversations are overruled by rigorous planning? How do we counterbalance the boring perception of online workshops and make them engaging and fun?

Play in the serious context of online work serves a purpose, it triggers involvement and engagement.

Based on our extensive experience with the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method, we know for a fact that these questions can easily be answered when working with people and groups in a face-to-face setting. However, the challenge is not to replicate the way we work and interact face-to-face in an online context. Instead, we wanted to take working in an online space to the next level, to integrate all the benefits of meeting online with the hands-on creative interaction that takes place in every workshop that uses the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method.

Lego rainbow

Hence the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Hybrid – Online concept is born, a new core application, based on the original ideas behind the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method:

  • Play in the serious context of online work serves a purpose, it triggers involvement and engagement, it is like an automatic process, something we all remember from our childhood and in which we integrate everything we know with who we are as a person, with our values, fears and hopes and share this with others in a creative way.
  • The process of building an answer to a question with LEGO bricks stimulates the hand-brain connection that in turn engages the imagination, making it easier to come up with creative solutions and answers.
  • Making and telling metaphorical stories by presenting a LEGO® model using a camera is what comes nearest to doing things in the real world, allowing people to explore perspectives, test assumptions and tell the truth in a safe environment.
  • By combining individually built models with digital collaboration tools (such as MIRO), collective knowledge can be created. Placing photos of models in relation to each other and orienting them within a content framework allows groups to create shared perceptions and understanding of the challenges and tasks they are working on.
  • Even in the online workspace an environment can be created in which there is no right and wrong, in which all participants are free to express themselves via the LEGO® models and in which the many contributions to the dialogue are encouraged.

 

In the online workspace too, play triggers our brain to think multi-dimensionally, making it easier to see patterns and understand how everything is connected.

Although all of this happens in a one-dimensional workspace (the online workshop), play triggers our brain to think multi-dimensionally, making it easier to see patterns and understand how everything is connected. Having tested and used the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Hybrid – Online concept for about one year now, our clients value the flexibility, making it easy to start larger development processes today and finish them the day after tomorrow and in doing so ensuring business continuity.

Regardless of whether the participants come from a confined area or not, they can be fully involved in the process without worrying about sanitary or hygiene measures. 

And although Hybrid – Online means combining the face-to-face hands-on interaction with digital collaboration tools, hybrid also means that a process can start online and continue face-to-face, both being 100% compatible.

The lack of travel and accommodation costs sparks creativity because you can easily invite more people into the virtual process, involve professionals from different teams and departments and accommodate different perspectives and diversity of thought.

During the development of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Hybrid Online concept, we were concerned about the technical requirements to make the workshop dynamic and engaging. However, we realised that the dynamism lies in the flow of the workshop, in how people engage in the process, rather than in the use of extra cameras or expensive technical equipment. Therefore, our approach focused on making the online workshops accessible from a low entry point, ensuring that the technical requirements did not prevent people from participating and engaging: they only need to connect for the workshop through ZOOM, we introduce the digital collaboration tool before we start and there we go. 

The uncertainty of our current business environment provides us opportunities to explore, to innovate and to push ourselves beyond our routines.

Our current environment challenges us to take the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method to the next level. We need to be aware of the theoretical basis of the method and find ways to adapt the processes and applications to the new context.  This is a challenging exercise, especially when many factors in our environment are beyond our control and we do not know where we are heading. But at the same time, this uncertainty provides opportunities to explore, to innovate and to push ourselves beyond our routines. So, let us embrace the novelty of our world and maximise our chances to succeed in our endeavours, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Hybrid – Online is a serious thing to consider.

March 2021,
The Inthrface Team

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