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.