The Fun in "Serious Play"

Faye Corcuera, David O'Hagan, and Nina Terol of Kick Fire Kitchen



A team building their shared vision through LEGO Serious Play

When was the last time you had a lot of fun in a meeting?


Not in a team-building activity or event, but in an actual meeting or planning session, when you had to discuss vision, strategy, or new products and services?


If you’re like most people, you wouldn’t use “fun” to describe those activities.


However, global studies suggest that having fun isn’t just nice to have at workit’s critical to attracting talent and strengthening engagement. According to a study published inPeople Development Magazine, “79% of graduates and those set to leave school felt that having fun at work was important, with 44% of those believing fun in the workplace increases work ethic.”


Human-centered, play-based methods work!


How can you bring the fun in? Here are some of the methods we’ve tried at Kick Fire Kitchen, that ignite engagement, fun, and innovative thinking in teams:


· Human-centered design (also called “design thinking”) is a problem-solving and innovation framework that puts users and stakeholders at the heart of the process. Here, diverse teams come together to solve a business challenge, and we get especially creative and collaborative when we ideate and prototype solutions together.


· Meanwhile, the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method is a play-based approach that leverages the “hand-mind connection” to unlock insights for communication, problem-solving, and strategy-building. This is great for creating a safe space, for getting teams to open up and share ideas freely and without judgement, and for aligning teams on direction and strategy.


On their own, both methods are effective. But together, in what we call our Playshops, they ignite teams’ collective intelligence in different ways:


· For a large conglomerate’s foundation, we unlocked a new vision that clarified their purpose, aligned their focus and drove them forward, and directed them toward an invigorated program strategy. From doing just “traditional foundation” activities, they are now bolder in their approach to fulfilling their “Why”


· For a young tech startup, we unearthed a deeper understanding of industry pain points and opportunities for problem-solving, and used a rapid design sprint to ideate and prototype on potential product innovations.


All while playing and collaborating, all while having fun. In a demo experience, Lin Mukhi, Vice President and Head of Human Resources at the PHINMA Group says, "After 10 minutes of a bit of LEGO [SERIOUS PLAY], I found clarity that I can fly. As a CHRO, I fly people to a higher place in their careers and in their lives. I fly in the midst of turbulence, with less than ideal visibility and often taking off from a bumpy runway."


In the 2018 Employee Engagement Report by Aon, Ken Oehler, Aon’s Global Culture & Engagement Practice Leader, said, “Companies with employees who [have] above average engagement levels will see better employee productivity, lower turnover rates and higher customer satisfaction scores—all factors that can significantly contribute to improved financial performance.”


It does pay to have fun and serious play at work. So, what’s going to be next on your “play list”?

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