Why playing with Lego can (maybe) help your startup

Have you ever played with Lego? Did you ever think it might be a serious thing? Tomorrow, as they say, Lego could become your best ally in boosting your startup. Even though,  if you choose to follow this path, you will probably need a “facilitator” guiding you. Lego Serious Play is a methodology created to transform abstract ideas in concrete representations. It helps its users develop action strategies that others can easily understand, approve, or 'literally' demolish. Such methodology started to be used mainly by developed firms rather than those in the early stages. But why a startup should be interested in trying it out?

I recently discussed this with Lucio Margulis, one of the most important Lego certified facilitators. I had the chance to meet him at Blank Disrupt and at Codemotion in Rome, where he explained the benefits of the approach developed by Lego between the end of the 90’s and the beginning of the 2000’s. According to Lucio, this method was diffused as a proposition aimed to quickly identify team problems and reveal organizations' hidden competences and know how, by transforming insights and testimonials in engagement and common objectives.


How a startup can take advantage of Lego Serious Play?

This is a problem solving approach, created to understand what people think about a specific subject. There are three kind of startup: those with an idea, those with a minimum viable product, and those ready to scale. If you have an idea and you want to share it with other people in order to verify its validity, LSP will help you to share a concrete representation of your idea. This will allow for an analysis of the project from an emotional perspective. Investors would not need to know the rules to interact with it.


I am trying to imagine an investor who sees a startup presenting its project in legos bricks…

At the beginning they will probably believe it absurd, but when interacting they would automatically understand what it is. By integrating the LSP with the Business Model Canvas and/or the Lean Business Model Canvas, it will be possible to drastically reduce the incubation time required to develop the project from six to two months. This is not simply my opinion but the result of the studies conducted by the Leon University incubator. Through this method, investors can improve the idea by sharing their experiences.


In real life, when does Lego Serious Play become useful?

First of all in receiving real time feedback. While interacting on a project, is possible to analyse the market, competitors, the marketing strategy, and define problems that the startup might encounter. This approach can also be used to define user experience and product design.


How to learn playing seriously?

Learning takes just about one hour, but in order to play you will need facilitators, helping you building the project whit Lego and conduct analysis. The facilitator is crucial, as he acts as a referee: if he’s not there the match cannot start. The lone players will be unable to solve problems and wouldn’t understand which  direction to take in order to face the problem and find solutions.


What is the difference between a consultant and a facilitator?

Lego Serious Play helps to connect the rational thinking with the emotional and instinctive thinking. This way  we can build something concrete, that would be otherwise inexplicable through mere words. In addition, this gives you the possibility to test an idea before presenting it to others. For example, it is possible to work on existing failed projects by applying them to your idea and observe if the model is solid. You can build a scenario that represents an investment or a competitor product launch. We are tridimensional people discussing concrete things through mono or bidimensional representations, such as power point presentation or renderings. Thanks to Lego Serious Play we are finally able to present tridimentional ideas.


By Silvio Gulizia, on Twitter as: @SilvioGulizia

Image from Lego website: Lego Serious Play