Under the Hood: Designing Your Future-self with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
/ by Darwin Antipolo / 1/19/2022
Like a magician, not one to reveal the trick behind his magic, a facilitator seldom pops the hood to any of his public workshops. We all know why… ;)
I have to make an exception with this workshop which has run a few variations since I introduced it. My motivation is to extend the conversation with participants (and those considering it) on what we set out to achieve with this introductory workshop. There may be unanswered and proverbial ‘what’s next?’ questions. On the periphery, this article may help open potential collaborations with other facilitators on reframing or improving the workshop and its resulting programme.
Let’s dive in then.
Why. A bit of history … The 120-minute ‘Designing Your Future-self with LSP’ workshop serves as an introductory session that aims to achieve several objectives.
Participants come away with a basic appreciation of Personal Futures which is a specific subject within the Futures and Foresight domain. Personal Futures utilises the principles, framework, and tools that successful corporations and countries use in setting strategic directions, only this time applied at an individual level.
Participants experience one of the more popular serious play methods which uses LEGO® bricks and elements. The method helps facilitate conversation and decision-making through a 3D-model building. In a fun, convivial environment, participants see the potential of the LSP beyond its use in the workshop.
Ultimately, the goal of the workshop is to prod participants like entrepreneurs, students, futurists, and fellow facilitators to think about the evolving futures and design a strategic life plan that is adaptive and resilient. Due to limited time, this workshop is a preliminary step to a more exhaustive exploration of crafting a personal strategic plan.
What. Really getting in there now… and here’s a glimpse of what happens behind the title of the workshop.
The “Designing Your Future-self with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®’ workshop was borne out of the need to bridge an important programme I designed. It was called ‘Design Futures One’ (DFO), a facilitated, multi-day programme, where participants apply personal futures framework using serious play methods to craft their personal strategic plan. So, the workshop is a compressed version of the bigger set; limited view of the framework and toolset; and, functional but unrealised objectives for someone steeped in personal strategic planning.
1. Define Your Current State. The basic tenet within personal futures is that as an individual we are multi-dimensional like career, love, finance, family and more. We implore participants to identify one important dimension to explore for the workshop This is designed to contain the thinking process due to limited time. To access this thoughtfully and urgently, everyone is asked to build a LEGO® model to represent the current state of this chosen dimension.
2. Define Your Future-Self. The first step of exploring futures is to bring everyone to an imagined future state 10 years from today. The dimension they have chosen moves toward this horizon. The provocation is a laddered query of what the future state would look like in building LEGO® model. Everyone gets to build and in a sociable environment of shared experience, everyone listens to each other’s stories.
Lego Serious Play model
3. What-if Futures States. We then navigate our way towards tangential but still imagined futures that are positive and negative. Participants answer a similarly framed, scaffolded set of questions to provoke a response through building LEGO® models.
After each model has been built, we share and reflect on the stories shared. In some situations, there are memorable discoveries whilst we interrogate the models created. I remember one participant exclaiming that he has not heard herself talk about ‘love’ and its future in any form and in a public setting at that. It was a safe space for exploration, and I am glad she felt that way. For some, the prominence of playful exploration of difficult topics comes out as a learning point. The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method was the revelation not so much as the application of personal futures.
Overall, the response has been positive but I believe that anything can be better.
What now. The workshop has ended. A week on, and even earlier, participants receive an email that provokes them to power on. There is a set of questions. There is a to-do so that you can connect the future with the current. They are asked to expound on other dimensions of their life.
Participants receive a personalised Future-self board like this one below. It should serve as a reminder of the stories behind the models they have created.