People sit around a table full of building blocks. Copyright: © AMT

It is well known that playing with Lego® and similar building blocks promotes spatial thinking, trains haptic skills, stimulates the imagination, and is great fun. That it also improves communication at work, encourages independent thinking, and speeds up problem-solving, however, is less widely known. Lego Serious Play (LSP), for example, is becoming increasingly popular. In guided workshops, participants are asked to answer a specific question or solve a problem – not verbally, but by building a Lego model that represents their answer. The models are then presented and interpreted metaphorically. The whole team equally shares its ideas for solving the question or problem. “In this way, people who are otherwise less likely to be heard in discussions can also get involved,” explains Professor Elisabeth Clausen, head of the Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies (AMT) at RWTH and a trained LSP facilitator. “In our department, we regularly use LSP and this often reveals possibilities that would otherwise have remained unseen and undiscovered.”

When jointly reflecting on the models, minor details often invite discussions that would not have taken place in a traditional meeting. In addition, subconscious information may find its way into the models and move interpretation in new directions, as mining engineer Clausen explains. "We tried the method with external partners as well. Sometimes people need a bit of time to really get involved – but in the end, most are enthusiastic and impressed with the method."