How do you know you’ve made it as a Change Agent? When your client starts paying you to play with Lego ????

On serious note, I recently a facilitated an Agile Retrospective with Lego as the medium. (A retrospective is a regular meeting that a project team holds to discuss what has been successful over a prior time period, what could be improved, and how to incorporate the successes and improvements in future.)

The team had just completed a two-week Sprint (set period for a iteration). I kept it simple with the following format:

Lego Serious Play Retrospective Format

  1. Intro and warm-up model (10 mins)
  2. Build a model to represent the last Sprint (10 mins)
  3. Share about your model (10 mins)
  4. Build a model to represent your ideal Sprint (10 mins)
  5. Share about your model (10 mins)
  6. What can we commit to as individuals or as a team to do differently based on what we’ve learnt? (10 mins)

What did I learn?

Rasmussen, a leading expert on Serious Play, describes how the scientific literature holds that the primary motivation for play is emotional. One stark example of this emotional quality of play was one fairly senior team member built a beast dragging weights on lengths of string. She shared how she had felt burdened over the last Sprint (previous two-week period), how she felt that she’d carried the whole team. I had never experienced this individual open up with anything like such depth.

It brought to mind those adult cartoon shows such as Family Guy. It seems that when we represent our world as childish or symbolic figures, with that degree of separation, we can handle much darker topics. Head on, if I’d asked this individual to share how they were feeling (such as with the ‘Glad, Mad, Sad’ format), I doubt we’d have got such a profound response.

Also, by us studying the Lego model, and not just listening to the person’s words, I felt that we could feel their pain more easily – it made it easier to empathise.

What to try next time?

In this version of the Retro, each team member created their own individual ‘Ideal Sprint’. In future, I’d like to experiment with teams creating a shared model of an ideal Sprint.

Lego man in image: seriousplayeducation