Lego Serious Play: the literature

There are a number of books and online resources available explaining the background, and philosophy of Lego Serious Play. These break down into a few categories: the history, the theory and the manuals. I’ve not found any manuals, however, which explain everything. This means that in order to move beyond the basic approaches outlined in the open source guide, it is necessary to be trained in LSP facilitation by one of the master trainers.

The background and science of LSP are available in a few online papers (open source), RasmussenHylton and Statler. These all point to sound reasons of why the process works from the psychological perspective and offer some basic case studies about why LSP works the way it does.

More in depth background to the processes and theory behind the approach can be found in these books:

Brown, Stuart. Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul J P Tarcher/Penguin Putnam, 2009.
Gauntlett, David. Creative Explorations: New Approaches to Identity and Audiences Routledge, 2007.
Pinault, Lewis. The Play Zone: 6 Principle for Unleashing the Hidden Value of Your Company Haroer Business, 2004.
Rock, David. Your Brain at Work Collins Business, 2009.
Roos, Johan. Thinking from Within: A Hands-on Strategy Practice Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Roos and Rasmussen were some of the original people involved in setting up the LSP process, while Gauntlett helped draft the open source document for LSP. Rasmussen’s piece provides the context of LSP and a brief background to the theory. Pinault’s book discusses Roos and gives different perspectives on an LSP session with a UK retailer throughout the book.

Roos’s book explains the history of how the idea developed and has been tried with various approaches. However, don’t expect photos and discussion of the LSP process. Lego bricks are only mentioned once or twice in passing. Gauntlett’s book provides the theoretical background to the LSP approach. Together both Roos and Gauntlett explain clearly why this all works as nicely as it does.

Rock and Brown both provide useful theory about why play is important and how our brains work. Rock also explains the SCARF model, which is important in the StragegicPlay approach to using LSP. The ‘SCARF’ model addresses: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness. The participants should understand their status in the game with the rules providing certainty of outcome. In addition, the players should have autonomy within the game scenario, and there should be relatedness between the players so that they are seen as friendly players, while the rules also provide a fair game to all participants.

Lego Serious Play session

Together all of these books provide an understanding of why the LSP process works, and some indication of how you can build a session around a topic. However, there is more to it all, which you need to gain from LSP facilitation training. This means going to one of master trainers approved by the Lego Foundation, which oversees the LSP materials. I was trained by  Katrin Elster at StrategicPlay (DE) in Hamburg and have since then also been in workshops with Jacquie Lloyd who runs StrategicPlay (CA). I can unreservedly recommend either of these trainers. Together they have a wealth of experience using these approaches many times a month over many years and will happily share the stories and experience during the training session. Go play, and learn with the best. 

Similar posts that may be of interest:

Thinking about Lego Serious Play and Simplex

StrategicPlay® Facilitation Training in Lego Serious Play

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