Tag Archives: #p4a

Play4Agile 2016 – one big family

All in the family

Play4Agile (p4a) 2016 is over for another year. As always it’s part reunion with dear friends, and part excitement at meeting new people at this ‘unconference’, where you learn to expect to be surprised by what you find happening. I mentioned this as part of my brief lightning talk on the Thursday evening. This is one big safe space, where you can explore ideas in sessions knowing that you will get support from those around you. It is so safe that, as mentioned on twitter, a transgender person came out to everyone there. That was a nice moment.

The ‘family’ aspect was reinforced in two ways this year. First, we had the village that is the p4a community looking after Myrta, who was a regular attendee to many sessions as both of her parents are also part of the community. It wasn’t unusual to see Myrta playing with and being looked after by others with her parents in different sessions. This is now the third year where this ‘community childcare’ is happening at p4a and it seems to work perfectly well. At some point I’m sure that we’ll possibly have bigger kids in attendance too. It possibly hasn’t happened as we are limited by space at the event so we can only have around 80 attendees, so they might need to sleep on the floor or in a camp bed.

The other ‘family’ aspect which I realised later was the wonderful way that sessions turned into ‘family’ portraits thanks to the lovely graphical recording work done by Kata and Marti from Remarker, who work the paper together like pair programmers with Kata doing the illustrations and Marti doing the words. One will start something and the other will follow on as needed to fill the large sheet so that anyone coming along later will know the title of the session and see the key takeaways. Having this pair at p4a meant we had a wall of history growing before our eyes. This was a great addition to the event this year and I look forward to seeing them at events in the future. Kata and Marti were told to feel free to choose the sessions they record, and to join any session they wanted to attend too. This is why you’d see them everywhere during the weekend. They are also now ‘family’ as we’ve asked, and they agreed to come join us again next year. As Kata told me, this was the best conference she’d ever been to as they were told to look after themselves and maintain a sustainable pace over their time with us. As a result she was able to take advantage of the location’s facilities and unwind after a long day recording our activities.graphic recording of lightning talks

The ‘family’ aspect was also shown in the relationship between the hotel staff and the p4a participants. We were told that staff avoid going on holiday over our weekend. The staff want to work our weekend. We talk to staff, and they learn our names extremely fast. They even know to pre-order some soft drinks for our members as part of the event. It’s also not unusual now to see staff and guests hugging each other good bye. It’s an amazing event.

The ‘family’ aspect of the event with people feeling safe encourages the learning that we each do there as we’re relaxed and feel that we can move from our comfort zone to our ‘adventure zone’ and learn new skills while also sharing ideas for discussion. I should also point out that the sharing ideas goes on all day and night. Friday and Saturday might go from an 07:00 walk or jog with someone in the woods through to 08:00 for breakfast followed by the open space starting at 09:00 and sessions running until 13:00 for lunch and afternoon sessions then running from 14:30 to 17:30 with an ‘evening news’ at 18:00 followed by dinner and then evening events of games, power point karaoke and talking with friends from 20:00 until 03:30-04:30. You could in other words find yourself with little sleep.

Games for learning

I find p4a so useful as it inspires me with games to use in the classroom and stories to use when talking to students. This year there were several highlights playing games in the bar in the evening. For example, we were talking about ‘real options’ and Olaf mentioned that he uses the game of Fluxx to show the difference between ‘options and commitments’. The rules constantly change so you can’t plan, and have to keep your options open until you find a successful way to commit to something in the game. Adding this game to the classroom will be a good way to bring home the issue of ‘options’ and systems.

Similarly, during a Werewolf session we learned that decisions happen much faster when opinions are reduced in ‘no talking’ rounds. This ‘silent’game round went much faster, than in the rounds where the villagers can talk and argue their opinions.

While playing Escape in the evening we also found a lot about communication being shared (or not) by players, and about the emotional state of players too, as shown in the graphic recoding of the session by Kata and Marti. Thanks to them we realised things, which our observers of the game had said. This was a very nice extra to find them working into the evening sessions and not stopping after dinner.Adventure Zone

Learning with StrategicPlay

The best sessions for me this year were the ones run by Katrin. This started with the pre-conference Agile Game Slam where everyone worked through a number of known games for different scenarios, and then created ideas for other games in the same scenarios, some of which ended up being worked on over the weekend too. This was a good example of Katrin using her CoCreACT process, and as always it’s good to see someone, who loves what she does, facilitate events as she offers so much during the process.

I was also able to see her and Jens guiding the Flowa team through this later too in a slightly different application of the CoCreACT process. Flowa were wanting help to determine where they should go, and Katrin, Jens and I helped them with this. This was a good extra to show how you can always be surprised by the unexpected at p4a. We followed this up with another session using Lego Serious Play process to develop models in relation to various challenge statements about the firm’s vision and ideal customers, which was good to see.

Lastly, I helped Jan run a short ‘taster’ session on Lego Serious Play under Katrin’s guidance, which was fun. Jan, found it a bit more nervous doing this under Katrin’s kind gaze, and people repeatedly told Jan that they liked the session, which was good for her confidence. All of us, who trained with StrategicPlay in being Lego Serious Play facilitators under Katrin have gone through this, so now Jan too has taken this rite of passage.

Rory’s sessions

Although Rory wasn’t here, he was here in spirit with his Story Cubes and in the Extroidinaire design studio, which were both here this weekend. We all received a ‘mixin’ pack of three Story Cube dice as part of the p4a gamafication kit this year, which was a great surprise. Jordann and Alex also ran a useful session on how you can use Story Cubes with agile teams that produced a good number of ideas that I can use, and Katrin and Jens introduced us all to the Extroidinaires as a design thinking approach, which anyone can follow to learn the approach. This will be useful for classes in the future.

The other sessions

I also went to Bettina’s NVC game session, which was the ongoing story of a game she started working on last year at p4a15. I wanted to see if I could glean any ideas for my own conversation based game. Whereas she starts from Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication approach, I start from Crucial Conversations, so while there is some overlap, and her approach is more heavy-weight than what I intend, it did offer me a few ideas for perhaps using ‘scenario’ or ‘concept’ cards so that players get more of the background. However, this might slow the game down and not be so useful for beginners, which is my intended audience.

Tim offered his Scrum Card Game twice it was so popular, and I made it to the second session. I’m always looking for new ways to introduce the ‘feeling’ of a scrum sprint to students and I hoped this might be ‘the one’ to use as it would take away the ‘oh Lego’ feel, which happens when building objects with Lego. I wasn’t disappointed, and hope to see this up on TastyCupCakes soon.

Juhu and I joined together for a session to discuss how to deal with conflict. He had specific issues to cover, and I wanted some feedback on my card game. This worked well for him and folks concluded that you need to develop a sense for issues both at a personal level so that you are aware of your own feelings when things aren’t going right and that you might be building up to explode at someone, while also developing a wider sense of how the team is doing in the sense of ‘danger spots’ in a minefield. Although my idea didn’t get much discussion, that was ok as people wanted to discuss the larger issue of conflict and I found some useful ideas there, which I can carry forward for the next iteration of my game idea.

The last session I went to was Ari-Pekka’s ‘Culture Coding’ session, which I’ve already written about.

I liked co-facilitating the ‘retro-festival’ with Jordan. We tried a new ‘speed’ retrospective with six stalls for people to work their way through in five minute sessions at each stall. As this was with five teams we were able to give ‘stall holders’ a short break as people moved around the stalls. There were stalls for ‘Story Cube stories of feedback’, ‘A sailboat of driving forces and hinderances’, ‘a wishing box of dreams for p4a’, and a ‘back to the future of what was great about p4a17’, along with a ‘weather chart’ of the overall process that goes into a gathering: registration, pre-event info, the marketplace, open space and other things. The format was fun and seemed to work well with some fun comments back from people about our different format.

Wrapping Up

p4a is still the best conference that I attend. I ALWAYS find useful ideas that work their way into my teaching and facilitation practice. It provides good space to try ideas and receive useful feedback from other practitioners, who face these problems and issues on a more regular basis than I do in my classroom. This is the place where I can validate my book learning through conversations and facilitation practice so that it becomes valid praxis for me to use everyday. This is me doing my professional development. This is what I do for ‘work’, although admittedly at p4a it doesn’t feel like work. Not even with when you’ve only had three or four hours of sleep.

Play4Agile 2015

In February I returned to Play4Agile 2015 in Germany. As always this was an excellent event where I could gain new ideas, discuss old ones and try out some new ideas of my own too. It was also special this time as I took someone with from Aberdeen. This made attendance different in a good way.

On Thursday before p4a15 started I attended a workshop with Deb Preuss on open space technology with several others. This was useful and helped me clarify how I’d been using this in the past and what I could do to provide a better experience for others when I’m facilitating events in the future.

The pre-conference Friday afternoon workshop on Improv this year was good fun as well as a useful experience to see how I can bring more improv to some of my classes as a way for people to warm up and move towards body storming aspects when developing and prototyping ideas. There were many demos during the session of the power of ‘yes, and..’ plus also how to better ‘accept your partner’s offer’ and what happens when you don’t follow these rules.

Play4agile_15 organising teamSaturday saw the usual excitement of the start with people lining up to offer a good variety of sessions. With the help of others I was able to have a session run on ‘Theatre of the Oppressed‘, which I missed last year, and wanted to better understand so that I might be able to use it too someday. We picked a scenario from someone and then worked through the possibilities to understand the options, which might’ve been available. Sarah, who led the improv session on Friday, also ran a session about improv techniques, which was very good too and built nicely on what she’d done on the Friday. There was also a good session on using the game Escape: the Curse of the Temple to highlight and help to analyse team interaction, and what happens when it falls apart.

Sunday saw me run a trial version of my crucial conversations game. This went ok, but was not as good as I hoped. Instead, I got lots of useful feedback about improvements, plus an important validation that the general idea was good and was worth pursuing further. As always, this is why we go to p4a; we can try ideas with a useful, supportive crowd of people. Afterwards I went to Ellen’s growth mindset game session based on Carol Dweck’s work, where she and Jens were exploring whether you could develop a game to help people understand the notion of growth mindsets. The conclusion was that this might be hard to achieve. Later, Ellen also ran a useful session on how to use Rory’s Storycubes for retrospectives.

I’m sure that I’ve forgotten some sessions and know I also had many conversations over meals with people – almost always sitting with different people each time – and late into the night at the bar with more people too. Because everyone is in the one location for everything you can always find people to chat to about work and ideas, or play a game with while chatting. This is ever so helpful. Lastly, of course, there were the sessions of werewolf, which are always fun and enlightening 🙂

As noted above, I had a colleague from the university with me. This meant I was looking after someone to make sure they knew what might be expected in this wonderful community and to point out people they shoud meet. This was good. The best part was seeing this person grow over our time there. By the end of p4a15 the person was more confident, open, and aware of what was still to be learned about the agile community. Plus, they had an even bigger thirst and understanding of the power that play brings to learning. I must try to bring more people to this in the future.

Play4Agile 2014

Another year and another wonderful Play4Agile conference has happened. For me this was again an improvement on the last year. This is as much to do with the learning I’ve gone through since last year as it is about the mix of people, who were there. I just finished submitting my assignments for ILM Coaching Level 3 certificate so better understood what was happening in some situations, which had previously been invisible to me. I also had been trying more games than in the past with students and other groups too. This all helps to set the scene and prepare the stage. This was apt as this year I spoke up more in the open space than I have in the past knowing that the more you put into these events, then the more you receive. I was also happy to do this knowing that I was with my tribe, who’d be kind and helpful if I had a ‘learning opportunity’ through a minor failure.

I arrived at Rueckersbach on the Wednesday in order to take part in the Temenos workshop that had been organised by OlafChristine and Michael  Temenos helps participants focus on issues blocking them, and was something I wanted to learning more about as part of my coaching education as it involves learning by drawing along with story telling, which are always powerful learning tools. A huge thanks to them for running this and opening up many ideas to me and the other participants. This was a nice deep dive of issues with people I trust and was a good warm up for Play4Agile.

On the Friday I participated in the pre-conference gamefication session organised by Katrin  Pete and Thorsten  My team came up with a mobile app to make house cleaning more fun so that you could spend more time at the weekend doing fun things with the people you care about instead of doing the chores. This set up a number of people with good ideas of how to develop games the rest of the weekend. In the evening Alan had us body storming some boats and other mad shapes as a group before we did the general announcements and run down for the weekend.


On Saturday I went to the ‘hosting cards’ session with Michael and Olaf to explore how to make ‘hosting or facilitation’ better. Afterwards was the StragtegicPlay with Lego Serious Play ‘time capsule’ session run by Katrin, Melanie  Peter and Sabine, where I had a realisation that I need to plan a bit more to make our proposed summer holiday work smoothly in the long-term as it will be a bit different from the usual holiday. You can see me building the final model at the end of this time lapse video. The implications about this holiday hadn’t sunk in yet, but the space to play with the hands using Lego helped this realisation. Afterwards the IM Project with Anne wasgood at showing more ideas that can be explored with Improv. This was a variation of the pattern game  where the circle has the claps going round turn into whatever people’s imaginations develops was great fun, and then another variation passing the juggling balls across the circle while ‘daily work’ went around to left and right while the ‘fragile’ jar was also tossed back and forth across the circle. This was a good way to learn about handoffs and communication. Ellen‘s ‘Positive No’ session was fun and provided another stand up before the crowd moment to illustrate the idea of how the participants could learn to nicely say ’no’.Christine, who knows a lot more of these games than I, helped me run a session on playing Improv games to see what could be useful for us to use in our own sessions. Big thanks to her helping. This gave us some good results as seen here: one two. I also found a useful improv encyclopedia of games. In the evening after dinner I was playing  Hanabi a Japanese game about cooperation, which Michael had brought along. This was an interesting game, which I’ll have to consider getting too.

Sunday saw me gong to the Agile mindset games with Konstantin where I finally played both the Penny Game (and heard how it goes better with dice) as well as Henrik Kniberg’s Name Game and heard of other games to illustrate the ideas. This was followed by the Markus‘s collaborative storytelling session where the idea is that the group pick one story from the members to tell and to then draw upon with special focus to develop general points for all where we heard Mikko tell us the story of Stattys which was real interesting and had lessons for us all. I replayed the Katrin’s  SP_LSP time capsule session where I again was able to think somemore about an idea that had been proposed by a friend the previous day.


time capsule

After lunch I went to the product owner game being run by Astrid  Sandra  Joost and Lilian and helped them launch their idea. I then ran a session on playing with different canvases (Business Model CanvasLean CanvasHappy Startup Canvas and Product Canvas  with Mikko so that we could see if it might be possible to develop a game or something. With the help of  Mel, Michael and Mikko, it looks like we did come up with something that I’ll write up later. Lastly, I went to the character building improv style run by Anne along with Katrin, Mikko and Alex where we learned a fastpersona generation technique that was great fun. I’ll have to try it at the Aberdeen GSJ in a few weeks time. During the ‘evening news’ our characters got a quick reprise to the amusement of the other folks. Then Marc and I volunteered to facilitate the open space on Monday. This meant we ended up prepping much longer than I ever thought I’d be in order to get our ideas for the session sorted out as well as getting the chairs and everything else just right. We were wonderfully assisted by Thorsten, who had been spending a lot more time than people realise behind the scenes getting these things ready. Later it was a few rounds of Werewolf with others to unwind before bed.

Monday I facilitated the open space with Marc, which went real well and we only missed one minor thing. After an intro we had competing teams of ‘choirs’ which was fun before the open space started. I told the group about why I was there to try something new knowing that if we messed it, then that was human and ok. I had survived two rounds of being a stand up comic in November 2012 and May 2013 (link will be added) , so this would be easy by comparison. I needed to just sit and catch up on emails so skipped first session and then went the ‘creative suitcase’ session run by Katrin, which showed me some useful ideas to be more creative. Imissed the end as Marc and I needed to prep the closing of the open space where we went over what happened in each session. Then it was over and we got a standing ovation from the crowd, as did each pair who did this, I must say. Still, it felt wonderful to be in the centre of that warmth coming from everyone. Thanks to all of you, and remember: if I can do it, then so can you.

Running the open space with someone was part of my personal growth track this year where I tried new things amongst friends. Others were going to sessions on ‘business model you’, or ‘finding your superhero’. But that wasn’t what I needed this year. I needed the experience of trying new things.

Sessions are only part of the value of this conference. There are also the conversations over meals with an ever changing cast of people as you re-connect with people from last year and meet new friends of friends you recognise from Twitter and Facebook. Here you discuss their current challenges and share your own. This is a chance to compare notes and glean new approaches you can try back home.

Conversations over games in the bar and other rooms are also equally valuable. Sure you maybe playing Werewolf and trying to stay alive as a villager, seer or witch, but you’re also chatting and laughing with each other and see each other’s game facilitation styles. Or you’re playing Hanabi and thinking of how you could use this game to show cooperation needs and the value of choices and information sharing as everyone loses or wins the game.

Roll on #p4a15 🙂

My Play4Agile Story

People attending this years’  Play4Agile 2014 were asked to blog their answer to these simple questions:

  • Who or what brought you to Play4Agile in the first place?

I saw Olaf post a tweet about the first one in 2011 and started following Katrin then too, but couldn’t make it. I was able to meet both of them at ALE2011 along with lots of other amazing people who inspired me very much, and life’s never been the same since.  I have them to thank for opening my eyes to the many possibilities which I hadn’t seen before.

  • What kept you from coming back/ what keeps you coming back?

I keep coming back because of the fun and the learning with these wonderful people in such a playful environment. And it’s good fun as there’s always something that I take home and use whether it be an idea, or games to use, or a better understanding of coaching and facilitation. I wrote about p4a2013 already.

  • How did Play4Agile make a difference in your life, your work and/or your community?

The takeaways of bringing in fun and games into the workplace and my teaching. This has helped make work more fun and keeps bringing new challenges because I’ve learned to keep moving out of my comfort zone as that’s where the magic is according to Pete’s drawing from last year.

Where the magic happens

  • Did you change jobs because of your experiences at Play4Agile or took a sabbatical?

I didn’t need to change my job to make the new direction, as there is enough freedom to change how I do the job. I can modify how I do the job and bring games into the classroom.

  • How might you bring the unconference forward?

The key factor of p4a is the people who attend and the conviviality of the secluded event. We could provide more interaction before and after the event. For example, in the way that this blog post and twitter events build up the excitement before we attend is good. We could also use something to continue afterwards by using http://www.futureme.org on the last day and setting a date in August when we read them so we don’t forget the fun and ‘learning opportunities’ we had.

  • What would be your wish for the next 5 years of Play4Agile?

May it continue to be just as fun and exciting as it has in the past and continue to be as relevant to my life as it has been.

I’m looking forward to this year’s event when I can see everyone again and have more fun learning with friends.

Play4Agile 2013 Unconference

I was at Play4Agile the unconference for games and playing to help teams better perform again this year. This is full of about 80 agile coaches and others interested in using games to learn. I shared a room with @sven_kr, which was nice as I’d not seen him since last year. It was also good fun meeting up with @eegrove and @gwww plus @kurt_haeusler in Frankfurt the night before, and hanging out with @eegrove again on the way home. Lots of time to talk and discuss ideas.

As with last year, I took home a lot of ideas, and had a good time with friends old and new, as we took over the sprawling seminar centre where the event is held in the hills some 30 minutes south of Frankfurt. I should also point out that ‘games’ are not video games, but rather card and dice games, paper and scissors games, and of course games using Lego.

The pre-conference session was a mini-jam run by @adamstjohn and @markusedgar where participants developed ideas to make the conference more interesting for those who couldn’t make it, and also ways for those who didn’t go to one session able to better understand what happened in other sessions. This resulted in a number of brilliant ideas such as the tumbler blog of photos with the #p4a13 hashtag, the ‘speed dating/meeting’ sessions at lunch and dinner (sit at appointed table and ask prepared questions from the deck on the table as a way to meet new people), the podcasts, the puzzle boards for putting ‘thank you’ notes, and comments about the conference that were scattered around. This mini-jam session was a great introduction for me of the Global Service Jam the following weekend, which Markus and Adam organise, and as a host for the Aberdeen one, was very useful to see how they work their jams. Helping to make the opening credits video for their event was also fun, as was the birthday party and midnight feast for @julezwitschert.

There were lots of sessions that were very useful for me. ‘Useful’ insofar as I learn something I can take back to the classroom. In no particular order the ones that stuck with me were a session by @ralfhh re-introduced me to the Kanban Pizza Game, which I hadn’t played since Agile Lean Europe 2011 in Berlin when he was prototyping the game. Now that I’ve played it and worked through a ‘what happens next’ session on the game to see where it can go next, I’ve seen how it will balance the beer game played at the start of a course. The students had asked if they could play the beer game again, but I think the Kanban Pizza game might work better for them to see another way of managing a system.

A session by @sven_kr and @cuxdu on Lean Startup using Lego was brilliant in exemplifying what can be done with a bit of Lego and idea formation. This will be useful in the future.

A session by @cuxdu on creative problem solving, reminded me of a process that I’d forgotten about, which this time pointed out to me that I can bring more games into the classroom if I change the location of my class now that I know how many attend. There is still the four weeks after the Easter break where I can try out different games if we have tables instead of a lecture theatre.

A session by @olaflewitz and @zucherart on real options was great to remind me that this needs to be discussed more in classes, as plans change, and we have different choices at different junctures, until we commit to one specific action, and until then everything is ‘an option’.

A session by @IlIlIIlIlIlIlII where we played a lean workflow game developed by @vanschoo went well and is another one I’d like to bring into class too as it too shows how you need to change the system to improve results, and this means reflecting on what the system is currently.

The Lego StrategicPlay retrospective session by @p_roessler was a useful reminder of how these sessions are run by others, and to see what variations work, and what can be done to keep the session short, and how varied they can be with just a fiddle pack to use for Lego bricks.

The session by @jacquiello on minimalist games using what’s in your pockets was wonderful in reminding us that it’s not always about the equipment of the game, but what the players bring with them in attitude and openmindedness. This too could be an interesting game to try with students to see what happens with simple rules.

I didn’t get to the ‘5 minute games’ session, but was inspired by it to think of ways to use simple, ‘no equipment needed’ type of games in my lectures and found some to work with amongst the game books I have. I thought they went well, and the students liked them too I found out later, and understood the points the game made in the class.

Play in the classroom is good and should be in all classes if possible. Play can illustrate a point more effectively than a lecture on its own as students experience the issue themselves, and through their emotional involvement, plus physical activity during the play make a better bond with the concept too. All of this is to the good.

At this conference learning is happening all of the time and games are played ad-hoc in the bar until the small hours of the day, and even over meals too. The games in the bar were for fun (werewolf, flux, and fiasco), while other games were prototyped some more. Lots of talking and catching up with friends also happened, and it wasn’t just the young folks who staying in the bar all night either. For some of us, little sleep is a fine price to pay for talking with friends discussing ideas, and sharing stories and learning all of the time.

The beauty of Play4Agile is that it provides a wonderful space for the participants where they feel safe, and well looked after so that we can try new things and know that if we fail, it’s ok. It’s a ‘learning opportunity’ as was often said during the weekend. The organisers provided space ‘for the magic’ as shown in this drawing by @p_roessler in his session on gamifying.

where the magic happens

where the magic happens

One of the most memorable and fun sessions that came out of the Friday pre-conference session from @teamfuture17 and ??? was the ‘blindfolded snowball fight‘ at Sunday lunchtime. This was fun to think about and to play. A good way to change pace for the weekend and take a break.

Yes, this is possibly the one conference I look forward to the most each year, and it is a lot of fun, but it is also the one I think I learn the most at. Maybe it’s because it’s full of wonderful people, who are great fun to be with, but also it’s because you never know what will happen, and what you’ll learn. It’s also over all too soon usually, and you then realise that you didn’t speak to this person, and that person, which you meant to do too. Bother. I guess that’s what Skype and Twitter is for and I’ll need to catch up with those people that way.

Last year, P4A for me was more about ‘what being agile’ means, and ‘what possibilities’ are there for each of us. This year my take away message seems to be, to remember what you’ve done before as a few sessions reminded me of what I had forgotten, while the other message was about ‘what can be done now, with what you have to hand’. I look forward to next year already. In the meantime, watch the blindfolded snowball fight we had.

StrategicPlay® Facilitation Training in Lego Serious Play

As some of you know I’m into the whole Lego for teaching thing and have used it for a few years in some games with students, and that you can find some of the bricks in my office. Some of you may have also noticed that since last September my laptop has a ‘Play Changes! StrategicPlay’ logo wtih Lego minifigs looking over the edge of a wall. (Ok, a plate if you know your colloquial German expressions, if you must).

Anyways, I just finished my StrategicPlay® facilitation training in the process and it was the best training session I’ve ever had. It was awesome. Yes, really. Now that I’m at the Play4Agile conference (twitter stream of #p4a12 hashtag), it seems the right time to write this up before I’m back at work.

If you need to help your clients discover their strategic change options in business, or how different changes in their business environment might impact their business, then StrategicPlay® (website) Lego Serious Play (LSP) facilitation training is what you too should have. This will help you more than you think as described in the StrategicPlay® prezi presentation and the case studies on the Canadian site. You can also find LSP case studies on the Australian MCI site who collaborates with the other two sites.

Lego Serious Play is not what kids use

Yes, you’re probably thinking Lego, kids toys and what’s that going to do for my business clients? I can’t go to them and suggest this sort of thing as they’ll laugh me out of the office. However, this is different, as I’ve mentioned before in an earlier post on LSP.

As noted in the earlier article, I’ve been reading up on this subject for a while and thanks to chats with Katrin Elster at StrategicPlay® (Twitter) , I had some understanding of the process and its benefits. After getting some Starter Kits thanks to a grant, in late January I ran a session with students and their group project clients, which went well and I discovered this really worked well as a group kick off for projects. The team members all had a common understanding of the ideas and goals of the project. Real cool! It also helped bring the teams together.

Three Days in Hamburg at StrategicPlay®

Come February I ended up in Hamburg at the StategicPlayground in the StrategicPlay® (Facebook) headquarters with my five fellow classmates and wow! We learned a lot in our three days.

I learned that brain work, which is what we’re doing from 9-6 each day with an hour for lunch, is hungry work. This is made easier by the great food of endless coffees, juices, fruit and cakes, provided by the staff and the fabulous lunches in a nearby restaurant. There are also celebratory drinks in the evening when you discuss how the day went and what issues might still need clarifying.

I learned that I could trust the process of using the Lego models built by workshop participants to illustrate metaphors. This is how Katrin teaches the facilitation training: you run through the process three times; once each day. The first and second days you are the participant, while on the third day you and your classmates each take a section of the process and Katrin is a participant too. The workshop sessions are balanced by theory sessions in another room, which on the third day is also where you have the debrief sessions of the workshop stages you ran with your team members.

I learned that what I thought I knew was the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more that I had to learn and that reading and running a few sessions is not the same as the full facilitation training. They are so much different, and I suspect it would’ve taken me years to learn on my own the lessons I gathered during three days in Hamburg. The third day is what makes the difference. After two days you may know all that you need to know to run a session on your own, but the ‘graduation’ session you run with your team members and the accompanying debrief show you what you need to know and put all of pieces together for a real day-long workshop. Yes, it will still take me a while to sort out the first one I do, but now I know what’s involved and what questions to clarify with a client before I do it in order to make it run to its maximum potential. Sure I’ll be nervous, but I’ll also know that as I did it once with friends, that this time on my own it’ll be ok. I’ve already made the beginner mistakes in a safe environment so I’ll be fine when it counts.

I learned that the StrategicPlay® Lego Serious Play process is everything I thought it would be and more. It builds upon the process discussed in the LSP open source document. This document only scratches the surface though, and you learn more with Katrin at StrategicPlay® about how to develop this tool of creative problem solving.

In the coming months and years I know that this new part of my toolkit will help develop my career and change my teaching forever. I’m not the same person who waked through the door in Hamburg on Monday. I’m better prepared for challenges ahead thanks to Katrin and the new friends I made at StrategicPlay®. Yes, it was hard work, but it was great fun too. We had lot of that: plus laughter too.

What others say about StrategicPlay®

But you don’t have to take my word for it. You can see what others say too:

Michael Sahota videos on StrategicPlay – he was trained through the Canada office

Michael’s description of the StrategicPlay® training process

Olaf Lewitz did his StrategicPlay® training with Katrin too and wrote about that training. He also wrote another piece on her awesome facilitation skills too.

Thorsten Kalnin did his StrategicPlay® training with Katrin too and wrote about his introduction to the StrategicPlay® process as a means to envision the Play4Agile conference, how he became a trainer and what the session was like for him too. He also wrote how he co-facilitated the strategy session that launched the Agile Lean Europe network.

Pete Roessler did his StrategicPlay® training with Katrin too and wrote about how easy it is to use Lego Serious Play for solving complex problems.