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Why Play over a Presentation?

Blog post
By Kathleen McCaffrey | 9 November 2018

A “play” approach to solution creation works well as it taps into our natural way of learning, ensures a greater common understanding and reduces inhibition to foster creativity. 

As highlighted by one of many interesting keynotes at the Agile Business Conference, our favourite games are mapped to our intrinsic approaches to learning.

This means that each player has the same opportunity to identify the solution regardless of past experience or existing knowledge.

Interactive simulation games also provide a way to communicate standard informationas it puts the learner, or “players” at the centre. 

In the context of agile, this ensures that the principles and their benefits are communicated to each department in a language that is understood. 

Participants feel less inhibited and are in a more creative mindset when playing games, and often self-organising teams manifest organically. It offers employees opportunities to move away from defined roles and expectations and express themselves more freely. 

Why LEGO®  for Agile?

The use of LEGO® with agile works effectively as it is simple to use, promotes tactile learning and fosters greater collaboration. 

The simplicity of LEGO® fits with the fast, iterative approach to developing prototypes in agile. LEGO® is easy to assemble and adjust, and to envision conceptual ideas quickly. Teams’ creativity can be captured without the obstacles of talent or accuracy.

LEGO® facilitates tactile learning (or learning-by-doing), which leads to more focus and engaged education. This learning style appeals to everybodyand encourages focus on the objectives, as it doesn’t rely on extraneous resources such as Wi-Fi or software.

This approach also fosters greater collaboration as it enables team members to see the bigger picture. Responsibility can be physically assigned and team members can help each other in real-time without the fear of asking for support. 

Case: How we used LEGO® at the Agile Business Conference

We were lucky enough to represent LHBS through the facilitation of a roundtable session: Get Agile with LEGO®. Our session involved a condensed version of the simulation of the typical sprint working process we use with our clients. 

Objectives

Our key objectives for the session were to:

  • Introduce the agile process of Sprints as an approach to product development
  • Communicate the benefits of iterative working
  • Communicate the benefits of self-organising and collaborative teams
Process

The session started with the introduction of a “vision” for a product, in this case it was a scene from a movie. Two teams were formed and decided which of the backlogged requirements for the scene would be assigned to whom. This included features to be built such as houses, vehicles, people, streets and areas. In total there were three sprints that lasted for only 4 minutes. Each sprint involved the steps of 1.Sprint planning 2.The Sprint (4 mins) 3.Sprint review 4.Sprint retrospective.

By the third sprint, participants were on their feet, with constant communication and more efficient construction of the movie scene set. 

LHBS has a playbook for running successful sprints, which can be downloaded here

Reflections

The teams felt more creative and believed that they could complete the items more efficiently by the end of the activity. 

Participants overwhelmingly preferred an agile approach as opposed to one large product development session. They felt that they came closer to the desired goal due to the regular feedback loop and re-planning of focus. 

It was also noted that teams become more familiar and comfortable with one another despite having only just met for the first time. 

Other uses for LEGO in organisations

LEGO® cannot only educate teams on agile processes, but also be used to express conceptual ideas. For example, the “ideal teammate” exercise can reveal the values teams hold as most important, and even unlock talents unknown to the employee themselves. It’s an unconventional tool that is increasingly popular among organisations.

LEGO® Serious Play® is another application that was created especially for business teams. It includes unique pieces that allow for the creation of more interconnected items and the communication of more concept-based ideas.

“It’s an engine. It’s like a language. It’s a technique without content… It is the facilitator who asks a question, then the participants build the answer to that question using LEGO®bricks, using them metaphorically to add meaning.” 

Robert Rasmussen, an architect of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.

What you need to get started?

Any set of LEGO® bricks can theoretically be used to replicate this activity. If you dive into the world of LEGO® for business you’ll also discover specially designed sets to purchase for specific goals. 


Kathleen McCaffrey is an Analyst at LHBS

 

 

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