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Prototyping Mental Models with Lego Serious Play for Agile

People can tell stories and express themselves when trying to solve complex problems using Lego. Jens Hoffmann facilitated the session "Prototyping an Agile Culture with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®" at the GOTO Berlin 2015 conference.

The attendants divided themselves into teams of 5 people or less. For the first exercise the attendants had to build a bridge with a mini figure on top of it.

Next the attendants had to introduce them selves, using the bridge that they have just build. In this way they practiced telling stories with Lego.

For the second exercise Hoffmann handed out instructions and told the attendants to wait until he told them to start. He asked them to follow the instructions and build a little turtle. People were encouraged to help each other while building the figure, because you can always steal ideas.

In the third exercise attendants had to change the turtle to build a model that represents their idea of the ideal agile team. He gave them a couple of minutes and then asked them that if they thought they were ready to check if anything was missing, if all of their ideas are in there, and to change it if they thought that’s needed. Some built a helicopter or a kind of spaceship (maybe inspired by the Goto Berlin conference theme "going into space"). Others had something which still looked very similar to the turtle that they started with.

Hoffmann asked the attendants use the model to explain to explain to their team members what makes this their ideal agile team.

You can use Lego to visualize the things you want to express said Hoffmann. What you can’t build you can tell, and what you can’t tell often can be told by the model. Also with Lego you can separate story from your yourself which can make it easier to talk about it. Lego serious play can also help you to develop your prototyping skills.

In the last exercise Hoffmann asked the attendants to use the model (and where needed to modify it) to talk about their personal agile superpower that can make their team even better. When you look at the people when they talk about what they can do you see them smile, you see their passion in the way they are talking about it.

Lego models can help us to make sense of complex information says Hoffmann. You can use it to explore and solve fuzzy problem, things where you can’t get an easy grip on. You can also use it to anticipate the future, by playing different stories you can prepare yourself for things that might happen.

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