Wave 1

Think with your hands! Using Lego to capture user requirements

Session Leader Name(s): Ellen Grove

Duration (30, 60, 90): 60 minutes (though easily extended to 90!)

Audience Level (New/Novice, Experienced, Expert): Anyone

Session Style (Presentation, Workshop, Interview, Panel, Game): Workshop

Description of Session:

Let your hands be the search engine for your brain! LEGO Serious Play is a powerful thinking, communicating and problem solving technique that can help you and your team do serious work through structured play activities using a popular and playful 3D modeling toy. Through a facilitated process of building models that, storytelling and reflection, every person at the table is engaged and actively participating in the discussion, whether the topic is individual aspirations, team relationships, developing a new product or solving a wicked organizational problem. Everyone builds and everyone tells their story – all participants have equal opportunity to put their own points of view on the table, unlocking new perspectives and exposing the answers that are already in the room.

This presentation will provide a hands-on introduction to LEGO Serious Play, so that you can experience firsthand how using LEGO to do real work unleashes creativity and enables meaningful conversations in a very short time. We will explore how to use this playful technique to collaboratively elicit information about user requirements and strategic design issues using the open source User Requirements with Lego methodology developed by a team at the University of Lugano, Switzerland.

Session Leader(s) Background:

Ellen Grove is an Agile coach who helps teams do better work through coaching them to create the circumstances in which they can work most productively and effectively. Her Agile coaching practice is founded in over 10 years experience leading software testing, development and implementation teams in global enterprises, a passion for exploratory software testing and user-centered design, and a background in community organization. She uses team-building and facilitation approaches to support the transition to collaborative Agile work practices at the team, managerial and corporate levels, and has conquered the challenges of extending Scrum roll-outs to off-shore development partners and multi-site project teams. Ellen is a StrategicPlay certified facilitator in Lego Serious Play methods.

Session History:

I've presented intro LSP workshops at Agile Ottawa, Agile Tour Montreal and Agile Coach Camp US 2012. The User Requirements with Lego workshop debuted at capCHI in Jan 2012, and will have be presented at Agile Ottawa in April 2012

Questions Answered By This Session:

How can I use Lego Serious Play to help engage all team members in building a solution to a collective challenge?

How can I help team members share more about their experiences and perspectives in order to help build a more cohesive team?

How can I help customers expose and prioritize what they need from the system we are developing for them?


Submitted by

Session Leader Name(s): Ellen Grove

Stage: Accepted

Feedback Score

13 votes

Idea Details

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Similar Ideas [ 3 ]


  1. Status Changed from Active to Accepted
  2. The idea was posted


  1. Comment

    Question, are you sponsored by LEGO? And second point to raise with you is are you teaching us something new, because from the line "Lego methodology developed by a team at the University" it seems so. Or are you just teaching an enlightening finding from the study done at the University (again please indicate if the study was funded or not by LEGO) - maybe LEGO could sponsor this conference?

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      ellen.grove ( Idea Submitter )

      If only I were sponsored by LEGO! Despite the increasing interest in LEGO Serious Play methods, they don't seem to sponsor any of the events where people are talking about or doing LSP. There's enough LEGO at the Agile meetings I go to these days that you'd think they would :)

      As to the content of my workshop: The LSP methods are a powerful, yet fairly generic facilitation technique that can be used by groups to address many kinds of questions - there's a great fit with Lean/Agile ways of working even though it's actually used more often in other contexts. Extending this approach to support user-centered design, as the R&D lab at the University of Lugano did (the paper is here: http://www.webatelier.net/research/reports/url-user-requirements-with-lego - I'm fairly certain they weren't sponsored by LEGO either, FWIW) is a new and novel application of the basic LSP principles that I am particularly interested in as an Agile coach with an interest/background in Ux and user-centered design (and LSP), and I think it's a great fit with the way Agile teams work.

  2. Comment

    I attended Agile Coach Camp in Montreal where Ellen facilitated and it was wonderful to experience her guiding a group of us to deeper learning. I would attend this just to experience Ellen's facilitation. Oh, the lego and the serious play would be cool too :)

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      ellen.grove ( Idea Submitter )

      Thank you, Declan! And yes, the Serious Play stuff is *really* cool - the LEGO is what helps the magic happen at the table.

  3. Comment
    ( Moderator )

    Lego Serious Play seems pretty popular now, I see it at a lot of conferences. Ellen, your reputation precedes you, but let's say I didn't know anything about you - what will be different about your Lego Serious Play session, that will give me confidence I'll learn something new here?

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      ellen.grove ( Idea Submitter )

      The new element in what I'm proposing here is the specific application of the LEGO Serious Play methodology to user-centred design. The LSP approach can be used to supplement other means of requirements elicitation to quickly and playfully capture and understand non-analytical requirements for building systems/services. This application of LSP is different from how I've seen people using/presenting LSP elsewhere, yet I think it is of particular interest to people who are building software to solve problems for other people.

      Having said all of this, to really get into the requirements-building application of LSP and allow hands-on doing of more of the 7 stages, a 90-minute session would be best.

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