When I was young, LEGO was my favorite toy. I spent hours and hours sitting among the colorful bricks and building my own dream city. When I grew older, I started to play games like “Sims”, which is actually a virtual LEGO game that allows you to build your own houses and towns. For me, LEGO is always my way to escape from my real life and just let my imagination build my ideal life. However, after the LEGO serious play session a few weeks ago, I realize LEGO was not just about imagination and escaping from the real-life, it also helps you to visualize each other’s thoughts right here and right now in the present.
For me, the session was fun and yet a bit stressful as there was so little time each round for us to build our LEGO. I spent about the first one whole minute to stare at the bricks blankly, not knowing what to do as there was completely nothing in my brain. I was starting questioning whether I have lost my ability to be creative and imaginative. However, after a while, things became a lot smoother. I found it interesting that all of us have extremely different ways of translating our thoughts into a real, visualizable model. Even when some of our friends have exactly the same idea, they demonstrate it in very different ways. This was a really interesting finding for me. I am really used to do things in a way that is logical to me, and I always tend to assume what makes sense to me always makes sense to the others as well. When we took turns to explain our LEGO models, I realized most of the times, I interpret others’ model very differently from how they interpret it themselves. Even though I paid close attention to everyone when they were explaining their models, it was hard for me to remember. This made me realize that as we grow older, our brain becomes less and less open to very different ideas and logic, and it becomes almost fixated in the way we think. Having a clear logic and way of thought is important for us to be rational and opinionated in our lives. However, it also restricts our ability to be open-minded or to accept different things in a short period of time. This means that we need to strike a balance between insisting on our own ideas and being open-minded and adaptable to better work with others and yet not compromise our ability to be an independent thinker.
During the session, one thing that caught my attention was that Jenson kept asking us “what about the colors? Were there any special meanings when you choose the colors?”. To my surprise, most of us (including myself), always said: “I anyhow choose”. I believe it is true that most of us did not pay special attention to the colors we used, but I also believe that the color choices were always intentionally made by our subconscious mind. When we put all our models together, I did observe different patterns for different people. Some of us like to use a lot of bright colors, while for me personally, I used a lot of green blocks. I remember reading some research articles saying different colors will stimulate different parts of our brain. Perhaps, the different colors we chose means that we use different parts of our brain when we do creative work, which leads to our diverse creations. Of course, this is just a bold hypothesis of mine with absolutely no theoretical basis, but I believe it is true that we can know something from the color choice of a person’s work.
I find LEGO building an excellent tool to express details. Sometimes, when we write or speak, we might overlook some more detailed aspects in order to not be ling-winded. However, when we express ourselves through a model, the entire thought process is completely retained. This is because even the finest details will leave an impact on the structure or appearance of our model. Most of the time, we might not even notice that our brains have already arranged everything in such details. If we do not retain these details right from the start, we may end up spending extra time, later on, to get all these details again. Having a visual model is especially useful for people who are very visual learners, like me. When I revise for an exam, I always end up how a page in my notes look like instead of memorizing the words. And during the exam, I will have the stack of notes in my brain and flip it as I answer the questions. Hence, if I adopt something similar and have a very visual process when I revise, I believe it is going to benefit me greatly.
When I take a step back and remind myself why we are having this LEGO session in the first place, an interesting thought occurred to me. According to Jenson, this LEGO session can help those who are less outspoken to express their ideas better and more comprehensively and also it serves to prevent those who are more outspoken from dominating the conversation as we are only allowed to talk about what is in our model. I find it interesting as this sounds like the exact same objective of most of the facilitation workshops I went to. I was first introduced to the idea of facilitation in JC. We were taught that everyone can be a facilitator in helping the more introverted to speak up and balance the group conversation. Here, the role of the facilitator is taken over by the LEGO bricks. By what I observed in the session, the LEGO bricks actually did an equally good job as most of the real facilitators I have met. Hence, I find this method very useful in discussions in both schools and corporates. Of course, it is not possible to always use LEGO bricks to facilitate, but the moral of this is that we should always have a more visual tool when we present our ideas, be it ppt slides, posters, or anything else. This not only helps others to visualize but also makes sure we do not go off track.
Overall, this LEGO serious play was really fun and enriching. I hope I can always remember this session and really put what I learned into use.