I use Lego every now and then with the organizations I work with. Sometimes I use it to explain something, sometimes as a get-to-know-each-other-exercise and sometimes as a simple energizer. This post is about a Lego exercise that is a little bit about all three of them. The preparations excluded, this exercise takes about 30 – 40 minutes.
Usually I use standard Lego with classic pieces and different colors. 300 – 400 pieces of Lego is enough for a workshop with up to about 50 people. Preparation is easy but it takes some time. I often combine this with family time together with my daughter, so that we could have some fun at home as well. Do creations of some kind with about 25 – 40 pieces. Mix colors and pieces so that they look different and make sure that it is something that is a bit hard to explain. we created fantasy animals and we call them fantimals.
This is our last result after about 2 hours. Here we have Fido, Froggie, Rainbow dash, Froosh, Duckie and Robby to mention a few of them.
Afterwards I take pictures of every fantimal from different angles, print it out with the name and a number on top of the paper as shown in the picture.
Break the fantimal appart to individual pieces and put them in a small plastic bag. Do this for every fantimal and make sure each bag contains all the pieces needed for a fully assembled fanimal. Mark the plastic bag with the same number. For my exercise I plan for a maximum of 55 people, and made 11 fantimals. The fantimal on the left is called Froggie and she has 5 legs. You are now done with the preparations.
When starting the exercise with your group, tell them to create smaller groups (teams) of 4-5 people. Tell them that the smaller groups should be as diverse as possible and everyone of them are equally responsible for the creation of groups. If they ask what diverse is, don’t answer the question straight away. Answer it with a question instead to make them think.
This will probably take about 3 – 5 minutes. When they have created the teams, ask them if these are the most diverse teams that are possible. Say that you think they can do a little bit better and give them another 2 – 3 minutes.
When the teams are created, tell them to point out a product owner for each team and the rest are the developers. Let all the product owners get a bag of Lego each and the corresponding paper with the picture. The product owners can show the pictures of what the team should build for 1 minute and let them show the Lego pieces for the team.
Now it’s time for the teams to build. The product owner tries to explain what the team should build. The team can’t see the pictures and the product owner is not allowed to see the progress. This means no peeking at all. The product owner has to look away.
Most teams manage to solve this task. It’s a little bit easier for the teams that have a common Lego language like “put a 2 by 4 in the bottom”. Usually most teams are done in about 15 minutes or less.
Take some photos of the things they have created and show them up on a projector or similar. Most people gets a little bit extra proud when their work is shown.
This exercise brings people together to solve a puzzle and they have to communicate a lot. Everyone understands that the biggest problem is that the map, which only one of them can see, is not the same as the reality. They have to be extra clear and this is a challenge for most people. Most of all, this is a really fun exercise that brings the energy level up.