Lego Serious Play: Using Toys to Get the Desired Result

Jan Schauenberg
30 August 2019

"Now he's also playing with Lego during working hours...", my colleague said when I brought the first box of colorful game blocks to the office. My response was simply, "No, I’m not playing with Lego bricks. I’ll  let others play with it!

But what's it all about? Why would anyone start playing with Lego during their working hours? And what is LEGO Serious Play anyway?

How it began...

Let me start at the beginning. In 1996, the LEGO Company had problems with its strategic planning and was looking for more effective measures. Together with professors from the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, the development of an innovative system – LEGO Serious Play (LSP) – began. 

LEGO Serious Play is based on a handful of very important points. 

  • The solutions for most problems are already in the room. They just have to be articulated,
  • The guiding principle: Everyone builds, everyone shares! And…
  • the concept that many things cannot be explained, but can be built.

Okay. I admit, so far it's been rather vague and theoretical. But really an LSP workshop is not so complicated. 

How it works: 

To start with there is a consultation with the workshop leader. This is where a few basic things need to be clarified.

  • How many participants there will be? 
  • Is there suitable room space?
  • And most importantly, which problem needs to be solved? What should the result be?

Thereafter, the workshop can be planned – and then carried out.  Many workshop participants are initially quite skeptical: "Lego bricks? I don't have time to play," one often hears when the method is still unknown and participants are not forewarned. But it is not uncommon for the biggest critics to be the biggest supporters at the end of the workshop. Since "playing" with LEGO is not a waste of time!

The workshop process:

1. First, participants have to learn how to work with the Lego bricks correctly. How to build with them, how to interpret them and how to tell stories with small Lego models. This is the so-called skills building. 

2. The second step involves the individual models. This means that everyone displays his or her answer to a question with a model.

The magic starts here at the latest. Participants stop thinking about problems - partly because they don't have time to do so. Instead, they pick up the Lego bricks and start building.

This has to do with the nerve connections between the fingers and the brain - as you can see from the cortical homunculus - which shows proportionally which parts of the body the brain uses and to what extent.


It has been scientifically proven that working with the hands stimulates brain activity.
LEGO Serious Play makes use of this interaction and lets participants think with their hands.

3. The next steps in LSP are the group models. Once all participants have formulated their solution to a problem using individual models, these are transformed into a group model under the guidance of the workshop leader. This process continues until either a model has been created which all workshop participants are 100% supportive of, or it is clear that the group will not reach an agreement.

4. In the last step, group models can be extended to system models that can be used for strategic planning or entire corporate landscapes. While individual and group models can be relatively easily included in most workshop formats, system models are the supreme discipline and often require several days of work.

Once it is clear how a workshop will be structured, the question arises:

What is LEGO Serious Play really good for?

The answer is manifold. For example, individual models alone tell a lot about the people who built them and help participants to open up to team-building measures and come closer; group models can be used for the development of corporate values, but also for uniform project objectives - and of course for everything in between.

At the end of the process there is a result. Always.

If you would like to hear or read more about LEGO Serious Play please visit our LSP Workshops page, sign up for our webinar down below or leave us a message!


During the 15-minute webinar of LEGO Serious Play expert Jan Schauenberg, will be guide you through the world of the LSP method and find out how your team can benefit from "playing at the workplace". Please select your desired webinar date from the dropdown menu.

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