Often a minority consisting of a few individuals set the tone and culture of a meeting. They speak more frequently, define key concepts more often and conclude with stronger determination. The minority takes up the majority of the time, leaving a large group of participants standing on the sideline realizing only a small portion of their potential.
Can you recognize this from meetings and workshops related to well-being and positive psychology you either have participated in or facilitated yourself?
That 20% speak 80% of the time not only challenges the quality of the session itself but also the sustainability of the session’s outcome. If few people define most the sessions discussion points many will leave with only a little determination to change.
Why LEGO® Bricks can Give Everybody a Voice
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is a facilitation tool designed to enable meaning, learning and creative collaboration.
It is a facilitated meeting, communication and problem-solving process in which participants are led through a series of questions, probing deeper and deeper into the subject. Each participant builds his or her own LEGO® model in response to the facilitator’s questions using specially selected LEGO® elements.
These models serve as a basis for group discussion, knowledge sharing, problem-solving and decision making. The use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY helps the facilitator, leader, teacher and many others accelerate insights and learning related to areas like positive psychology and well-being, business performance, organizational learning, strategizing and goal setting, team building, and last but not least agile methodologies.
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is a technique which improves group problem-solving. By utilizing visual, auditory and kinaesthetic skills, the method requires participants to learn and listen. Because all participants build their own models and share the essence of these, it provides all participants with a voice.
The Challenges of Groupthink
One of the common challenges when working with groups is the way group-dynamics influence individual behavior, attitudes, and opinions. One group member may not personally agree with something the group does or says, but nevertheless just go along with the norm and publicly agree with the group and keep private beliefs to themselves.
This can happen because the person might feel unsure of his or her own opinion, or because he or she is afraid of being different from the majority of the group, or simply because the person has not formed a solid and clear understanding of the topic at hand. Research shows that people tend to go along with the majority view, even if that view is objectively incorrect or even contradictory to one’s own beliefs.
This phenomenon is what researchers call “groupthink” and it refers to faulty decision-making in a group. Groupthink dominates personalities and reduces innovation, as it prevents the group from exploring all alternatives.
Building Collective Intelligence with LEGO®
According to a study co-authored by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and Union College group intelligence may not be quantified as the sum or average of the cognitive abilities of its members (Woolley, Anita Williams, et al, 2000). By studying small teams of randomly assembled individuals, researchers discovered that groups featuring the right kind of internal dynamics perform well on a wide range of assignments, regardless of the sum or average individual cognitive abilities of the group’s members.
Further, a group’s intelligence, or its ability to complete a series of demanding multi-functional tasks, is positively linked to higher levels of “social sensitivity,” as well as a more equal distribution of member participation levels, and even the number of women in a group.
One of the important features of LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® is that it helps to create an environment in which participants feel safe and comfortable sharing whatever they have on their mind. There are no right or wrong answers, and individual differences are considered a benefit rather than an obstacle.
At the same time, the participants get space and time for reflection during the building process without interruption. The result is a response not based on a hasty and superficial answer, but a deeper reflection represented in a physical and visual outcome – the LEGO® model.
This model cannot change during the sharing process, which makes LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® an ideal method for encouraging a more open and honest reflection. It creates a more comfortable and safe environment for those who tend to be introverted and reluctant. This does not only strengthen individuals but also the group because everybody’s opinion is heard. Thus, the collective intelligence of the groups increases.
The use of LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® reduces situations where dominant and extroverted participants immediately start talking, taking over the agenda and the angle from which the content is discussed. LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® enables a democratic process that ensures every participant’s voice and their obligation to use it.
Want to Learn More?
If you think that four days of play, learning, and creativity in Copenhagen sounds pretty nice, then join us for our certification training in LEGO® Serious Play® for Positive Psychology. Taking place from August 14-17 2017.
If you want to learn how this exciting and playful method allows groups gain a deeper, more meaningful understanding of various issues, especially those related to engagement, resilience, and wellbeing then do not hesitate to join us and start actively building shared visions and committed teams.
For more information and registration visit the website Build and Share.
About the Author
Mads Bab, who lives and works in the home country of LEGO, Denmark, has worked with LEGO® Serious Play® for more than 9 years and pioneered Build & Share – the link between this playful method and positive psychology.
Mads, who holds an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of East London, is an experienced facilitator of group processes and author of books on flourishing at work. Mads is also a part-time associate professor on the Danish Master of Positive Psychology program. From his Danish based consultancy Gnist (Danish word for Spark), Mads has worked with LEGO® Serious Play® for positive psychology around the world and presented the ideas at conferences in USA, China and around Europe.