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.
With permission from Avin Pokardas, co-founder of Thinkers X
In the next few months, a more robust and fit ‘ Design Futures Ones’ will surface. This is now infused with learnings and insights from the many workshops prior to its relaunch.
= This Article was originally published on 28 August 2021 in Medium.
“The alternative to good design is always bad design. There is no such thing as no design.” –Adam Judge
Recently, there has been a move for people to learn design thinking skills to prepare for the possibilities on the horizon. Designers have always had a key role in society — finding innovative solutions to problems through creativity, empathy, and ingenuity. Now it is time for us all to find this designer within ourselves and take on challenges that come our way!
We need to have a design mindset to level up our innovation journey into the unfolding future.
The design (thinking) mindset will help us upgrade our skills needed for business design, digital product creation, service innovation and other applicable efforts. We need to sharpen latent, transferable skills by gaining design literacy. Gone are the days when Design (or designers) are equated to aesthetic, or things about beauty and the surface. The last one in a parade of strategic discussions, Design is taking centre stage in many board rooms.
1/ Design(ing) and its consequent mindset is the metaskill that we all should have.
What are these design skills? There are many skills that you need to learn or relearn. But, I believe these are the foundational and impactful skills that an individual needs to embody a design mindset. So, let’s take a page from this list and work towards a competency pathway.
2/ Empathetic (Empathic) — The designer’s approach is always rooted in empathy — understanding what needs are being addressed before designing anything at all. Are you solving the right problem?
Creative — Generating new possibilities for a given problem through different approaches, a designer is effectively imaginative and inventive.
3/ Collaborative — To solve problems more effectively the designer works closely with others to understand the need or challenge. Design is a team sport.
4/ Persistent (Flexible) — Designers must be determined to see through projects without giving up too soon. Despite setbacks they are able to keep going, adapting along the way.
5/ Maker and Doer — When you’ve crossed the threshold of thinking through from problem to the innovative solution, the designer-in-you-need to now build. Make prototypes or even pretotypes to test this against success metrics.
Presentation & Facilitation. This duo might be an oddity in a fairly straightforward list. And it might be two different skills of the spectrum. The common thread with these two is upping your communication skill.
Why do I need to have these design skills?
You, now infused with designerly mindset and skills, become a key asset of any team or organization that would be able to deliver greater value. These skills enable you to save money, time, and energy in your organisation or business. You are instrumental in crafting innovative products, processes or services that propel your team and business forward. These skills make you an intrinsic part of the transformation journey many companies are going through today powered by design.
More businesses are jumping into the well-researched and documented benefits of applying design in business. The value has been established by numerous reports and studies — McKinsey Design Index, Design Value Index, Design Council UK, and Forrester survey on the economic impact of design.
To secure your place in the team and an organisation believing in the efficacy of design thinking, you have to embrace this mindset and sharpen your design skills without any regard to your current function or role — accountant, marketer, or engineer.
So, what could be your action plan to acquire new skills and start rethinking that mindset? Research free and fee-based learning materials on design and all its variations. Attend workshops that not only give you the theory behind the design but offer an experiential and participatory learning experience that works best. Lastly, participate in projects within and outside of your organisation to apply these newly developed skills.
What’s your action plan to embody a design mindset and gain designerly skills?
= This Article was originally published on 7 Sept 2021 in Medium.