A Christmas Carol: LegoViews’ Ghost of an Idea

Getting Ready for the Next Legoviews

Getting Ready for the Next Legoviews

Recently, one of the questions I’ve been asked the most is how did I come up with the idea of LegoViews. So, since it’s Christmas, it’s a good time for stories and here’s the story.

When I’ve started my PhD almost 3 years ago, I was obsessed with my ontological view and spent months trying to find the right approach to tackle my research questions. I ended up embracing Social Constructivism and in particular John Searle’s approach. But once I defined the theoretical framework, I needed to find a research method which were constructive enough and which could help me to highlight how social realities are built.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on methods, did my duties reading books and papers about the traditional methods used in social sciences: survey, interviews, focus groups… None of them was fitting enough into my idea – I wanted something more challenging and something which could explain and show the processes and which could materialize somehow the construction of social realities.

One day, more than 2 years ago, I was staring at my book shelves and there was a completely forgotten volume with some LEGO bricks on the cover and suddenly everything clicked. If we construct social reality, what about using bricks to show how these concepts and social realities are built?

Everyone knows LEGO, most managers – the key target of my PhD research – probably play LEGO with their kids, LEGO bricks are fun, they are original, and it is a brand new approach. And that’s how my LEGO journey and my explorations began. I’ve started googling LEGO , discovered theLEGO SERIOUS PLAY [LSP] methodology, contacted anyone who has been using it, collected all materials I could find, papers and videos, read all I could and the more I learned about the method, the more I could see the potential of it. I became a huge LEGO fan and decided to use it in my PhD, being convinced that it was something new deserving to be explored and exploited. What’s the point of doing research if we don’t try something new? New methods could provide new visions and new insight of the world and, after all, even failing is a result. Academia didn’t like LEGO, nevertheless, I was convinced about the potential of those coloured bricks and went on with my Lego explorations on my own.

During such explorations, I emailed Robert Rasmussen, one of the most passionate advocates of LEGO, inventor of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology and trainer. Robert was organising an LSP facilitators’ training in London and I joined. The training I attended proved me that the bricks’ potential was even wider than I imagined: the 4 days spent building with bricks and learning LSP were the most exciting experience ever: during the training I simply realised that while I was building models with the bricks and my hands, I was delving into myself finding unexpressed ideas and concepts and had found myself connecting these thoughts in new unexpected ways: I was amazed.

I had to do something with that method – it was too original and too powerful not to be exploited somehow. Hence the idea: what about combining two passions of mine, LEGO and journalism? It seemed a bizarre idea, though I liked it, I really did.

I wrote about this idea to Robert, we had few chats and soon after I started the first tests with friends – it was a joke, nothing serious, but I was amazed by the results I was getting. And just for fun, I decided to go one step further and try it with some of the occupiers at St. Paul in London to understand what all that ‘Occupy’ movement was about and to see if, thought the use of LEGO, I could get a different understanding of their views of society. I liked the results, I liked the view the LEGO bricks were bringing to light and decided to publish them, to open this explorative space to document my journey and my LegoView experiments.

But that’s not the end, it’s barely the beginning…

LegoViews’ Christmas break is going to be a constructivist one, no ordinary holidays, but challenges and more explorations; I’ll be experimenting and pushing the bricks to the limit once more and will bring my LEGO to Israel and the West Bank, where I’ll make new LegoViews. Challenges ahead are exciting – not only because of the complex social and political reality I am applying LegoViews to, but also because of the cultural differences which the LEGO bricks and I will face.

Now it’s time for me to pack my stuff – camera, netbook, audiorecorders, and, of course, my LEGO bricks. The programme of the trip is pretty intense and there is a number of LegoViews, new explorations and experiments in the air. Stay tuned.

LegoViews will be back shortly. Keep playing and have a happy Christmas and a colourful and playful 2012.

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2 Comments to “A Christmas Carol: LegoViews’ Ghost of an Idea”

  1. …looking forward to seeing the new bricks of the story!
    merry Xmas and take care!

  2. Hi
    Happy 2012!

    My name is Mario Araujo and I am from Portugal.

    I was delight reading you work, mainly because of the similarities, not the area, because I am working in public health field, but the way we are doing it and the coincidences of the beginning. When we are trying to find new ways to do things it is amazing that, if you are aware, you will find a network of “improbable allies” that never ends.

    In the beginning, I was trying to find a strategies that help us to interact in a better way with our colleagues in Public Health. Our objective was to understand how they are working in the field the National Oral Health Program. We know if we do that in a traditional way, or they sleep in the seminaire or they are, in fact, not there and it would be a wast of time for a large majority.

    So one day, listening a conversation about what gifts they should give in Christmas to their kids, Lego was a recurrent word. Suddenly…blink…Once upon a time I heard about people who us Lego in the business world…is was that true? I thought…

    Start goggling and reading we found a wonderful world of metaphors, constructions and learning styles…

    We decided to create a workshop for students, as a way to test this tool, it works. We prepare a workshop to work the perception of public oral health and it’s relation with public health network and the insights, the enthusiasm, the discussion were great, for us it was decided, that was the way…

    As you said, I also believe 2012 will be a constructing year, maybe because we feel these hard times in Europe and mainly in Portugal. On the other hand, we know that in these grey times what people need is not to be grey, for that we have already the politicians, who are creating this huge disaster in society, we need people to be together, learning together and having fun with that…

    So, in conclusion, I hope we can star contact because this is a great way to learning and change views. I hope I will have a chance to do the Rasmussen workshop (right now is to expensive). I also will start my PhD this year, but that will be another story…
    Congratulations for your work it is really an inspiring one.

    Found greetings
    Mario

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