As discussed in my previous blog, LEGO® Serious Play® workshops of half-a-day or more, conventionally use the 219-piece Starter Kit to get things started. But for short sessions (including online), these are just not practical because of their relative cost (roughly £25), their length of time for up-skilling participants for LEGO® Serious Play® (60 minutes or more), and if you are running online sessions they are much more expensive to post to participants. So, what I use for my Building Wellbeing workshops is the 49-piece Window Exploration Bag. This kit cost less than £3.50 each, it can be posted in the UK as a large letter for £1.15, and it up-skills participants for LEGO® Serious Play® in about 30 minutes.
But what is most remarkable about these tiny kits is the creativity that they bring out in the participants. When participants have fewer bricks, they seem to rely less on building skills and more on metaphor and symbolism. For instance, if someone with access to thousands of LEGO® bricks wanted to represent their family in their model, they might have searched around for a number of mini-figures, looked for gender-relevant faces and hair, or some other more intricate combination of bricks for something that felt appropriate. However, what I frequently see in my Building Wellbeing sessions is that the three yellow bricks with an eye on are used to represent the family. No building skills are required, and it’s done in a fraction of the time. And yet they convey exactly the same meaning for the builder and the audience. And that is a critical point in LEGO Serious Play; the point is not the bricks, the point is the thinking and the communication that you achieve with the bricks. The bricks are just the vehicle. And when you have fewer bricks people get much more creative with the meaning that they can generate in a shorter amount of time.
However, this has its limits. My experience in observing and discussing with participants after sessions is that the benefits of so few bricks may be limited to short sessions of 3-4 rounds of individual model building to answer questions (LEGO® Serious Play® Application Technique 1). After this, participants can begin to get a little frustrated with the small number of bricks available, and also repeat metaphors from previous building rounds because the meaning given to a particular brick in one building round immediately comes back to mind in the next round, eventually leading to reduced creativity.
So, in summary, the little kit can achieve incredible things but keep those sessions short!