I’ve been using variations of a StrategicPlay taster session using Lego Serious Play for a while. Last year I devised an open ideation game,which became our CodeTheCity Ideation Toolkit. Last Friday (6 November 2015) as part of the Open Data Scotland event we ran the ideation session in the morning and a StrategicPlay session near the end of the day using Lego Serious Play. We had most of the same people at both sessions. Both sessions were done in the same space, which wasn’t ideal as it was too loud for people to hear each other well when talking to the whole group.
The ideation session went fine. However, because of the room acoustics we didn’t time box the parts as well as we normally do in the workshop. This meant that we had some teams spending more time discussing options than others, who progressed well. We might’ve left teams drift for too long in deciding what they were doing, which might’ve worked better with more rigorous time boxing. The room acoustics made this workshop harder to run than normal. As facilitators we found ourselves regularly roaming between tables to check on their progress as it was the only way to ensure they heard the instructions for each stage. The poor acoustics also meant it was harder for teams to feed back to the whole group, and we only ended up with one iteration instead of several, which is the ideal process for this workshop.
The StrategicPlay session with Lego Serious Play ran smoothly with the challenge statements being focused on what open data challenges people faced at work, identifying the key issue in the challenge and what the simplest thing to try as a step towards a solution might be. This session worked well, although people were getting tired, which slowed down the building as participants talked more. Given that part of the session goals was the sharing of stories, this was perfectly fine.
Near the end of the session someone, who’d been to both sessions suggested that in the future we should combine the two sessions together. She found the use of Lego Serious Play helped team bonding as people relaxed with one another as theyshared stories. This, she thought, was missing from the ideation session, which meant it was harder for the team to form ideas. It occurred to me later too, that every other time we’ve used the toolkit, we have probably done so in groups where most participants already know one another.
A combined session would be more useful for a number of reasons. While a combined session might take longer, which isn’t always an option, we can embed a short StrategicPlay intro to the ideation session so that people are sharing stories, which helps them orientate themselves more easily. The goal would be a session where strangers quickly relax into the safe space that play opens up, so that they can explore the open data themes and ideas in the session together.
This sounds like a good idea that should be trialled next time we run a CodeTheCity Ideation session. Time to think of another workshop I think.