Thompson Rivers University

LEGO more than just play

May 6, 2016

A LEGO SERIOUS PLAY model made by SoBE students in Andrew Fergus' 400 level business class.

It may not be an entrance requirement, but experience playing with LEGO could come in handy for students in the School of Business and Economics (SoBE).

As a child, Dr. Andrew Fergus never imagined he would be getting paid to play with LEGO, but that’s exactly what the Management faculty member is doing to engage his students.

The creativity and innovation instructor recently attended a LEGO SERIOUS PLAY Methodology Training workshop and SERIOUS PLAY Facilitator Certification in Vancouver, where he studied new experiential learning techniques to get students more involved in class.

“It was four, full-on, intense days of learning and innovation,” said Fergus. “The most valuable thing I took away from the workshop was the power of play and how important it is to engagement and creativity in the classroom and workplace—which we lose as adults.”

The idea to integrate LEGO SERIOUS PLAY into the classroom came while Fergus was buying LEGO for his two boys. He had heard about LEGO being used by some top business schools, including Harvard Business School, and decided to look into the methodology further.

LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is an innovative, hands-on process most commonly used in organizational and strategic management. It developed from research demonstrating links between the benefits of manual activity on brain function.

By using the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY materials and methodology, people explore the relationships and connections between people and their world, observe the dynamics both internal and external, explore various hypothetical scenarios, and gain awareness of the possibilities. It deepens the reflection process and supports an effective dialogue for everyone in the organization.

In the classroom, Fergus has students using LEGO as a tool to develop concepts and gain an understanding of organizational behavior and leadership through a series of scenarios.

“LEGO is just the medium. It’s used to help students look at systems and understand organizational change, by using interesting things to keep students engaged,” said Fergus. “It’s amazing to see how involved students become and how quickly they are able to come up with a shared model of leadership.”

Fergus plans to present on the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology at the TRU Teaching Practices Colloquium as well as submit a SSHRC grant proposal later in 2016 to use the knowledge and techniques learned at the workshop for future research.

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