Innovation: The Literal Building Blocks

Innovation: The Literal Building Blocks

What are innovative ways to increase innovation? Everyone knows that kids have the biggest imaginations, so maybe it just takes acting like a kid again to bring out our best ideas.

On Monday afternoon, Edison Nation and Enventys were treated to a special afternoon of intermixing work with play through LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, a facilitated meeting allowing participants to solve problems and enhance innovation through LEGO®. Karen Lynch, our LEGO® facilitator, led our team through a series of building and sharing exercises in an attempt to use the bricks to dig deeper and build teamwork and business development.

Just like all games, there were rules involved:

  1. Everyone builds
  2. Everyone shares
  3. Everyone listens

These rules are in place to ensure that everyone is respectful of opinions and the process. Karen discussed how in typical business meetings, 20% of the group does 80% of the talking, so SERIOUS PLAY® tries to combat that by engaging everyone.

innovation, lego, invention, creative

The first task was simple: build a duck. Everyone was given the same six LEGO® pieces, yet no duck was the same. Some people created wings, others made bills, and some focused on the feet. Yet to each person, it was a duck, and despite all the differences, it was used to set the guidelines for the rest of the meeting. Everyone will create different and unique representations of each task, but each is a “duck” to the creator, and has the same value as everyone else’s, just as everyone’s thoughts and creations have value in life.

innovation, lego, invention, creative

Tasks started to get a bit more difficult with the introduction of building the conceptual. Ducks are easy enough to build because you know what they look like, and can access those memories. But creating the conceptual? A bit more innovation has to go into that.

This is where Karen encourages builders to tap into the subconscious mind: our conscious is only about 5-10% of what we know, but there is so much more in our brains that we can access. She told everyone to let their hands, not their mind, do the work and not “to have a meeting with yourself” on what you should build.

Using our hands to respond to seemingly unanswerable questions appears to be one way to access knowledge buried deep within our unconscious.

innovation, lego, invention, creative

When everyone was asked to build a representation of their role at the company in helping clients, there was an interesting takeaway when differentiating between designers and communicators. Most of the EN team built models that incorporated bridges, showing their role of helping inventors get their invention from idea to market. On the other hand, most designers built towering structures with different steps along the way to show the long process of producing an invention that is constantly evolving.

innovation, lego, invention, creative

Throughout the rest of the session, building the conceptual got tougher but sharing with the group became easier. Using a 3D model as a means to express a theoretical concept makes you think deeper and obtain an understanding of the perspectives of others in the group, without worrying about offending personal thoughts or opinions. Karen believes that LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® has the potential to change the way people think, and in doing so, to help change the world.

Next time your company, family, or friends are having issues communicating or just want to liven up the dynamics, give toys a try. The potential is limitless and what’s not to love about using LEGO® bricks in a professional setting?

-You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than you can from a lifetime of conversation- – Plato (2)


Have you ever thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if…”?

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