How do you get a bunch of Electricians interested in strategic conversations? That was the challenge put to me by an owner of a local electrician business. The business has a good reputation and has been growing from strength to strength. However the owner recognised the need to engage the team around the values of the business.
But how do you get a bunch of tradies excited about conversations that will express what they thought were important values?> These guys are the happiest when paperwork, processes are at a minimum and they can just get on with the work.
The answer: Get their hands to do the work - after all that is what they are good at. LEGO® Serious Play® (LSP) is just that, it lets people's hands do the thinking. This goes back to the theories of Constructivism and Constructionism that underpins LSP. Rather than surround them in a room filled with whiteboards, post-it notes, spreadsheets and presentations, they were able to express their ideas by building things.
The team were able to move around and have a few laughs while doing serious work. It was really a great example of enjoying what you do and that serious business stuff doesn’t need to be boring. After a few hours, the team of 12 including the young apprentice, leadership team and the seasoned veteran had explored what expectations they had for each other. They had expressed what values were important to them as individuals and collectively as a team. Words such as cooperation, learning, open mindedness become familiar to them.
In the final shared model, every team member could see how they contributed to the final vision. Everyone had been involved, engaged and everyone could understand the final outcome. Before they realised it, they had achieved something that looked very much like a strategic conversation (and spoiler alert; that’s exactly what it was), they had collaborated as a team to achieve something pretty cool.
By using LSP, the level of interaction totally exceeded the business owner’s expectations was higher than expected for the owner. Yes there was the expected laughter and banter but it was the engagement that took him by surprise. “Everyone was involved and even the individuals I thought might struggle, actually was one of the most active”. That is when you know the process works.