Monthly Archives: July 2015

LEGO Serious Play facilitation training: mission accomplished.

On May 8 I joined Juego Serio, Sparkling Strategies and Cocoon Projects in Barcelona to attend a LEGO Serious Play (LSP) Facilitation training. I had been waiting that moment a lot.

I met the method in 2013 when I had the chance to help my friend Stelio facilitating some LSP- based workshops designed by him. With those few kickstarting experiences the power of LSP had just shown a part of its potential, but definitely enough for making me eager to know more about it. I had been facilitating meetings and workshops for 10 years at the time and this looked like the most powerful facilitation method ever met.

Release early, release often. #wip #wiplimit #sagradafamilia #barcelona #españa #trip

A photo posted by Jacopo Romei (@jacoporomei) on

A versatile technique

LSP is a great envisioning method and I loved the way the facilitation training was held: we mainly ran LSP sessions with Lucio Margulis, one of the few LSP facilitation trainers in the world. He gave us a strong theorical background while using LEGO Serious Play to outline all the main LSP facilitation concerns and showing us both usual facilitation patterns and his own skill in action. He proved to be able to ask very powerful questions. It was amazing to stare in silence at how deep the analysis of an apparently easy subject could become. I saw people talking of their aspirations, their assumptions about the context we were working in, their tentative solutions and I even saw people break out in tears.

Squeezing value out of people

The best feature of LEGO Serious Play by the way is not just using LEGO on job – which is actually the very reason why most of the people are curious about it at first. The best of LSP is gracefully forcing each person attending a meeting to formulate, express and share her thoughts on the meeting’s subject. All of her thoughts about the subject. Even the least fair, the most uncomfortable ones.

Have you ever been in a meeting? Sure.
Have you ever seen a meeting in which 2 people out of ten talk all the time? Sure.
Have you ever seen a meeting in which, while 2 people don’t stop talking, other 4 just nod (?) and 4 chat on their smartphones? Sure.
LSP puts an end to this.

What does that mean for an enterprise? For a team? For a non-profit org? For a board?

Mainly two things:

  1. Serendipity is a powerful mode which to let happen things by. Exploring the deep thoughts about a strategical issue in each single head is going to surprise you. Moreover, those surprises will be very focused on the whole team goal.
  2. Making everyone’s ideas about a topic is an investment in clarity. No one will be honestly in condition to say ‘I didn’t understand we were about to do this’ or ‘I did not agree. This was your decision, not mine’. No one anymore. The range of alibis in use in a team using LEGO Serious Play is mercilessly destined to narrow down to zero.

I am already using LSP in my workshops and coaching sessions. I just started to walk along my path to LSP mastery. Will I meet you along the road?

I grandi consulenti secondo @meedabyte: squali, morti e sciacalli. #epicwin #LSP #barcelona #españa @LSPMed

A photo posted by Jacopo Romei (@jacoporomei) on

#NoEstimates: knowing the difference between an estimate, a forecast and a promise

A few weeks ago I attended a NoEstimates workshop held by Woody Zuill and Vasco Duarte in Helsinki. It has been an intense and fruitful day and here is the main insight I brought back home.

The day was led with a very nice pace, the two speakers showing a very different style in explaining their ideas. Their continuous turnover on stage made the workshop very light to follow though packed-up with contents.

The concepts explained during the workshop resonated a lot with what I have discovered through the years about planning product or software development: an estimate is not a promise and both are not a forecast. The first two are quite unhandy too.

According to Merriam-Webster, an estimate is

an opinion on the nature, character, or quality of something.

forecasting is

to calculate or predict (some future event or condition) usually as a result of study and analysis of available pertinent data predict

while a promise is

a statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future

Well, that’s enough to spot a linguistic abuse: we are always asked for an estimate, thus for an opinion, while we are committing to a promise and no one cares enough about forecasting – if any useful at all.

I would recommend this workshop to anyone willing to get out of the big bubble lie “sharp estimation is the key factor for success”.