Lego Seriously Played

«I’m writing a book that debunks the effectiveness of business consultants.»
«But common sense would say that you’re being a consultant yourself. So your opinion is logically flawed. Only people with no common sense will buy your book»
«I prefer to call them the mass market …»
Dogbert and Dilbert in a Dilbert Comic

A while ago, I had the opportunity to take part in a small LEGO Serious Play workshop. I admit that I am rather skeptical of so-called creativity techniques. Esp. if they come with an registered trade mark and cost a lot of money to «learn». And the LEGO isn’t cheap either.

And yeah, looks like «LEGO Serious Play» should rather be called «LEGO Seriously Played». Because people seem to pay a lot of money (1500€) in order to become an instructor. And to instruct what, exactly? Play with LEGOs and try to claim to be creative?

Because judging by how the workshop went, the LEGO did not do much. It did not impart additional knowledge about the topic. That has to happen before a workshop. You need to occupy yourself with the topic. LEGO will not help you there.

When it came to the ideas themselves, they did not come from LEGO either. Participants had ideas, then used LEGO pieces to express these ideas. Creativity was used to overcome limitations in the LEGO pieces to express the ideas. But the ideas themselves? They came from creative participants, not from the so-called creativity technique. Instead of «playing» with LEGO, the same participants could, e.g., have gone for a walk (without distractions, i.e., not listening to music/podcasts, not talking with someone else).

If LEGO Serious Play would actually increase creativity, the ideas would flow from the LEGO pieces, or the interaction with them, to the person. There might be studies that show such an effect, but I did not see it during the workshop. In the best case it gives people a reason to come together and do something else, with LEGO being an ice-breaker and excuse to occupy themselves with a topic. But LEGO will fail unless the participants have extensive knowledge about the issue at hand and are open enough to see things in a new light. Proponents of LEGO Serious Play will claim that LEGO with introduce this openness. I am a bit more skeptical and a bit more thrifty. And if it’s just expressing yourself in a physical medium, then why not use playdoh. It’s cheaper and more flexible.

All in all, it looked more like a modern instance of a business hype similar to neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). It was all the rage a few decades ago, but built on a very weak psychological foundation. I get the same pyramid scheme vibe now with LEGO Serious Play.

But who knows, there might be people who profit from it. But if you already are creative, it’s likely more a shackle than a ladder.