On Saturday, January 20th, 2024, the Orange County chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI-OC) gathered at the Fullerton Arboretum for its January Breakfast Meeting. The highlight of the event was a captivating workshop entitled “LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®: Fostering Creative Confidence and Effective Teamwork” led by distinguished presenters: Dr. Rachel Bodell from Biola University’s Crowell School of Business, and Dr. Wendi Dykes-McGhee and Dr. Marlon Ware from Azusa Pacific University’s School of Business and Management. What set this session apart was its unique approach to problem-solving – LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.

LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is not your typical team-building exercise; it’s a method that uses the familiar building blocks to help organizations diagnose problems, ideate solutions, and build bridges within organizations. Dr. Bodell, Dr. Dykes-McGhee, and Dr. Ware are Certified Facilitators in this methodology, bringing a playful yet purposeful approach to project management.

The participants eagerly delved into the hands-on experience, starting with the directive to “Build a tower using only green and orange blocks.” The room buzzed with playful activity as individuals interpreted the task in their unique ways, reflecting their diverse perspectives. The following discussions within groups revealed the various ideas that emerged from the initial exercise.

The next challenge was to build a small model from the assembled pieces, choosing from six predefined designs. This marked the beginning of a journey where LEGO® bricks became the building blocks of storytelling.

Then the participants had to “modify the model to tell the story of what energizes you as a project manager.” This phase allowed participants to infuse personal meaning into their creations. The facilitators asked thought-provoking questions and guided the exploration of the symbolism behind each component. It wasn’t just about building; it was about expressing individual narratives within the collaborative model.

As stories unfolded, participants showcased their passion for project management. My mini-figure represented stakeholders overcoming obstacles, a propeller symbolized progress, and an obstacle course depicted the challenges inherent in project progression. Green flags marked the achievement of goals, providing a visual representation of the energizing aspects of project management.

The journey continued with the directive to “Build an individual model about one of the most important traits a project manager needs to have.” Each participant crafted a unique representation of the chosen trait, reflecting their personal beliefs about effective project management. Flexibility, goal-setting, agility, motivation, and leadership were among the traits discussed.

The final challenge involved group collaboration to combine individual traits into a cohesive whole. The result was a project flow chart that represented the collective wisdom and diverse qualities essential for successful project management. Both groups presented their models, showcasing the synergy of ideas that emerged from the interactions from this engaging workshop.

The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop at PMI-OC’s January Breakfast Meeting proved to be both meaningful and enjoyable. Participants not only gained insights into innovative problem-solving but also discovered a novel way to foster communication, collaboration, and creativity within their project management endeavors. The colorful world of LEGO® bricks had transcended the realm of play, becoming a powerful tool for building bridges and breaking barriers in the professional landscape. The workshop illuminated the potential of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® beyond project management, hinting at its applicability across various fields.

Content Contributor: Roderick Conwi PMP
Roderick Conwi PM
Freezepoints eMagazine Publications Team PMI Orange County