THE ORIGINS OF THE LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® METHODOLOGY

LEGO® Serious Play™

The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology is built upon a process which stems from the heart of LEGO elements and the LEGO building system. Looking for a tool to unlock imagination and innovation within the company, the LEGO Group realized that a solution might be found in the LEGO® System in Play itself: just as the LEGO Group had been inspiring children to ‘build their dreams’ for decades, so perhaps adults could be asked to build their visions for future strategy.

The idea of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology originated in 1996 when the two professors Johan Roos and Bart Victor at IMD in Switzerland and LEGO Group CEO and owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen were exploring alternative strategic planning tools and systems.  They developed an understanding of the value of employees and the concept of an evolving, adaptive strategy that included using LEGO elements as three-dimensional models of business issues and challenges. The strategy was named LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. Together they formed a company called Executive Discovery Ltd., which developed and launched the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology. 

In 2004 Executive Discovery Ltd. merged into the LEGO Group, which took over the ownership, methodology and distribution of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® materials.

COMMUNITY BASED MODEL/OPEN SOURCE

In 2010 the LEGO Group decided to offer the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Methodology as a community based model (link) under the Creative Commons License Deed.

We recommend that you read the Open Source document for a description of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology and philosophy.

Prior to 2010, the LEGO Group maintained a network of licensed partners and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitators. After the launch of the community based model on June 1, 2010, the LEGO Group no longer maintains a licensed partner network or offers LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® certification training. As a result, facilitators using the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology no longer pay a license to the LEGO Group to use the Method. This means that the LEGO Group only guarantee the quality of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology and the physical material, while practitioners are responsible for the quality of the delivery of the actual workshops based on the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology.

RESEARCH

  • Lissack, Michael and Roos, Johan. The Next Common Sense, Mastering Corporate Complexity through Coherence. Nicholas Brealing, 1999
  • Oliver, D. and Roos, J. “Constructing Organizational Identity”. Imagination Lab Working Paper 2003- 10, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2003
  • Oliver, David and Roos, Johan. Striking a Balance: Complexity and Knowledge Landscapes. McGraw-Hill, 2000
  • Roos, Johan and Victor, Bart. “Towards a New Model of Strategy-Making as Serious Play.” European Management Journal August 1999: 348-255
  • Roos, J., Victor, B., and Statler, M. “Playing Seriously With Strategy”. Imagination Lab Working Paper 2003-2a, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2003
  • Said, R., Roos, J., and Statler, M. “Lego Speaks” Imagination Lab Working Paper 2002-7, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2002
  • Gauntlett, David. Creative Explorations, New approaches to identities and audiences, Routledge, 2007
  • Møller, Louise. Personal and Shared Experiental Concepts. Ph.D dissertation. Aalborg University, 2009

Supporting literature can be found in studies related to Flow (e.g. Csikszentmihalyi, M. FlowThe Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York City: HarperPerennial, 1991), Constructionism, Play, Social Cognition, Complex Adaptive System

In addition to the papers, facilitators in the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology have published a number of relevant books and papers. These books and papers are not approved, endorsed or authorized by the LEGO Group.


LEGO® Serious Play™