Mads Bab, MAPP UEL is an experienced facilitator of group processes and author of books on flourishing at work. Mads is also part time associate professor on the Danish Master of Postive 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. Bio. Mads' articles are here.
How might we create a deeper understanding of the elements that drive well-being? How do we capture meaning, ensure learning, and build collaboration so that people engage in the issues that strengthen their well-being?
What would your well-being look like if you had to build it in LEGO®?
It might not be as difficult as you think.
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) is a visual and interactive tool that can be used in multiple ways to explore divergent aspects of everyday life. As positive psychology focuses on the development and enhancement of positive aspects, LSP comes in handy as a stimulating tool that leverages collaborative learning and deeper meaning-making.LSP can be a facilitation tool used to lead participants, both adults and children, through a series of questions, probing deeper and deeper. 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 that lead to sharing knowledge, solving problems, and making decisions.
The use of LSP helps the facilitator, leader, teacher and many others accelerate insights and learning related to areas like positive psychology and well-being, business performance, setting goals and strategies, team building, and last but not least agile methodologies.
Thinkering and Hands on Thinking
“Thinkering” is a word coined by Michael Ondaatje in his novel The English Patient. It links creating and understanding concepts in the mind with tinkering by the hands. When we physically engage with things, especially with our hands, we generate a great variety of sensory images. These sensory images help us understand our immediate realty and help us build personal and shared meaning.
Kevin LaGrandeur explains that visual elements produce a stronger and faster reaction than words. Visuals help people feel emotionally involved with information. This can be used for good or ill. Using cigarette boxes to advertise against smoking is a clear example of a practical use: the image is deliberately shocking to highlight the damage from smoking.Rogers shows that another objective of a hands-on approach to visual thinking is to create a common language, metaphors, and analogies in order to share common stories. He emphasizes that pictures help simplify the way we typically approach problem solving. His perspective, thinking through visual, is using the visual approach to clarify the thought and ease the problem solving process. Visual thinking helps people discover and explore the different possibilities existing in order to make stories clearer and simpler for others (and oneself) to understand.
From the perspective of narrative psychology, this ability to make sense of abstract thoughts can be very useful. White explains that a narrative approach to psychology assumes there is no single self, but rather many versions of self. Everything will depend on the perspective we assume when telling the story of our life and experiences.
From a narrative perspective, how we construct the story of our experiences and opinions has a great impact on the way we think, we feel, and how we stand in front of the world. Our stories, and more particularly, the way we choose to tell our stories, play an important role in how we see ourselves and experience our relationships with others and the environment.Moving Forward, Brick by Brick
Too many positive psychology interventions rely mainly on cognitive processes leaving a group with very few ways to really explore well-being. This often results in challenging group dynamics, where a few people define the majority of the sessions and where the take-aways of a session are abstract and difficult to remember.
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) is a technique which improves group dynamics. Relying on visual, auditory, and kinesthetic skills, the method requires participants to learn and listen, and it provides all participants with a voice.
LSP serves as a shared language regardless of culture or position. It is appropriate for children, teens, and adults and may be used in a variety of settings ranging from corporate workshops to classrooms to group-counseling sessions.
Participants in all domains come away with improved ability to learn collaboratively, to engage their imaginations and underlying beliefs more effectively, and to approach their area of interest with increased commitment and insight.
Interested? Find more in our eBook on LSP. Our next Certified Facilitator Training in the use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for Positive Psychology will take place in Copenhagen from August 14-17, 2017. From the event page:
“If you, like us, think that four days of play, learning and positive psychology in Copenhagen sounds pretty nice, then join us for four days of certification in using LEGO® Serious Play® for Positive Psychology.”
In my next article, I describe three ways that LSP can help you explore well-being in a group.
Bab, M. & Boniwell, I. (2017). LEGO® Serious Play® for Positive Psychology.
Freedman, J. & Combs, G. (2009) Narrative Ideas for Consulting with Communities and Organizations: Ripples from the Gatherings. Family Process 48(3), 347-362. Abstract.
LaGrandeur, K. (2003). Digital images and classical persuasion. Eloquent images: Word & image in the age of new media, 117-136.
White, M. (2004). Narrative Practice and Exotic Lives: Resurrecting Diversity in Everyday Life. Adelaide, South Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.
White, M., & Epston, D. (1989). Literate Means to Therapeutic Ends. Adelaide, South Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.
Images provided by the author and used with permission.