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Adding Lego Serious Play into your CX Program

An interview with Sirte Pihlaja of Shirute, the Customer Experience Agency in Finland.

Janelle Mansfield

Hi everyone, this is Janelle here from Amplified Customer Experience. And I'm like so thrilled for today's topic on the Lego Serious Play. It was one of the sessions I was most excited about seeing at the Global Insight Exchange. And unfortunately, with the conference being canceled, I didn't get to participate. So today we're going to dive into it with Sirte, and she's going to give us a bit of an overview on what Lego Serious Play is, and how you can use it in your customer experience practice. Now, before we do that, I just want to introduce you to her. She is the CEO of Shirute, the customer experience agency in Finland. And she's also an internationally recognized CX and EX expert, coach, designer and strategist with more than 25 years of experience in advising large corporations and brands in various industries and countries. she delivers creative solutions in customer experience management research and experience design as well as CX culture. Data Analytics was the customer and omni channel CX and service design. She does a lot. She's a very well rounded consultant as far as I'm concerned. And also she is the leader of CXPA Finland network. She's a member of the International advisory committee and one of the founding members which I did not know. She was one of the first Europeans to have been certified as a CCXP. So she's been there done that really looking forward to hearing from her today. So today's conversation despite all of her years of experience in customer experience is going to focus on look Lego Serious Play topic I'm super interested in learning more about. So to start, would you mind giving us a bit of an introduction into the world of Lego Serious Play? What is it exactly and how is it used?

Sirte Pihlaja

Yes, sure, of course. So Lego Serious Play is a methodology and also materials that Lego in will invite invented for themselves back in the day the mid 1990s onward. Well, they had a few academic professors who were actually creating the methodology. And they were creating because they just wanted to renew their business totally. And they needed a way of working in in doing that, and hence came up Lego Serious Play basically, as it was Lego themselves, they the materials that would be used as part of this creative methodology were Lego bricks, and it's a they are somewhat special bricks. So you have to buy your own Lego Serious Play kits to be able to really get all out of Lego Serious Play. But you could do that also with some something that you can grab from your child's closet. I guess that's what I do during the lockdown at least But you have to be a little bit experienced in it to be able to basically go. But anyhow, so they created for, for inventing a new strategy or reinventing themselves. And one of the first applications was therefore real time strategy. And other application was realtime identity because you need to obviously, when you have a new strategy, you have to have the ways to create the culture that supports delivering that strategy. And, and then, well, that's actually two applications. There's one like organizational identity related and another one for employees. identity, and then there's another get another application that is called the beast, so real time for the beast. And the name is pretty funny, but basically, it's something that is meant for times a little bit like this, that there is a big disruption going on say digitalization is a good example of it. Having to take a digital leap with it within or without Your organization or a big merger and acquisition where you need to combine company cultures or anything that that has a major impact on the company and its organizational culture. So those are the open source applications of labels Serious Play. And then there are applications that seasoned Lego Serious Play trainers and facilitators have created themselves, such as what we have is called CX Play. And that's something that we're using for customer experience and employee experience, design and development.

Janelle Mansfield

That's really interesting. So can you give a couple of different examples of what types of problems or outcomes you can solve for using this methodology?

Sure, um, well, you could be you could do anything you would normally do with your customer experience related work. So it's it's it's not To limit limiting in any way, of course, I wouldn't say that I would use it for anything and everything. But I haven't come yet to any project where I couldn't have used the Legos if we if we hadn't decided to go with it. So it's more of a question of really having the feel of whether or not with specific case it makes sense to bring in the more creative stuff or not. I would say. As for examples, we've been doing CX strategy work we have been doing customer journey management related stuff, customer experience design. Also, many of our assignments have been related to employee experiences. And here I want to actually say that it's not the team building tool, because that's something people think of when you take Legos as an example many times but it's really one of the creative methodologies that are there to give your brain a hand really and and the tactile experience and workshopping with other people playing with other people with Legos makes you more open minded and give us It gives your you the possibility to actually be more creative as well. If that's what you need to be if you want to be better and differentiate yourself from the competition, I think it's really interesting. So I think a lot of our listeners will be familiar with using design thinking to say do you a journey map? How could you use Lego to do a journey map?

Watch the full interview here:

Sirte Pihlaja

Well, if I if I first thought by explaining how Lego Serious Play works, that makes maybe, maybe, Okay, that makes sense of it. Yeah. So every single Lego Serious Play session needs to start with a Skill Speed building section. So it's not like a Serious Play if you don't do the skills feeling part. Maybe if you I don't know if you have a group of people who have been doing Lego Serious Play for years and years and years and it's maybe building on on your previous workshops then you don't necessarily need it. But the thing is that the skills building section actually, for beginners, it helps understand the world. Basically, we are learning a new language, totally new language with Lego Serious Play. So it tells you about metaphors. It tells you about storytelling, it learns. It teaches you to do all of those things that you will be needed later on leading in the challenges that are set up for you by your facilitator. Then, once everybody's good, more or less good with the way the Lego Serious Play works, and how the Legos, the bricks themselves, how to play with them. We we jump into the challenges part where we're actually doing the stuff that we want to, to be addressing in that particular workshop. So based on the outcomes that we want to or the goal setting that we have made previously with our clients, we then use one one or several challenges that we build Against with, with participants. And and the way it goes, it's that so that every participant builds their own Lego model as an answer to the question that has been set forward by the facilitator. And once everybody has built, then everybody around the table has their turn to tell their story about their model. And everybody else is to listen. And we keep very keenly with their eyes and ears, so that they can ask questions about the model and the story and what's behind it and the thinking that is behind it. And one of the main main things in Lego series play is to create a safe environment for everybody who's participating. So we are not there to ask questions that would somehow criticize whatever the person has said about their models because that's, they own the story. It's their model, and nobody else can can say anything. And that's not the the gist of what we're doing. We try to support each other. So when everybody's told their stories, then comes the next part where we will be building shared models, and even landscapes in some workshops depending on how far we go with it. So the idea with shared models is that we put all of the models together. And then as a landscape, it could very well explain your whole organization as an example. And within within that landscape, you can then play real time scenario scenario. So so you can think of different things that, you know, might go wrong or might change the picture. And then then you're actually doing all these scenarios that that okay, if this happens, then what do we do? If this happens, what do we do, and you'll have all of those future scenarios planned ahead of time already. So you won't be you know, surprised when when something when the lightning hits you, basically, and also another thing specific Typically, I would say what is important that that is part of Lego Serious Plays is creating simple guiding principles, which is, I think, very much aligned with what we do in customer experience when when we're thinking of giving advice, you know, purpose and giving advice to our employees and, and empowering them to do things that take, take the experiences towards the purpose. So you don't always have a script, but okay, what if this happens? What should I do, in know, you know, in in instructions, but rather, you know that there's a simple guiding principle, look at this simple guiding principle and then act along, you know, according to it.

Janelle Mansfield

Just tell me a little bit more about some of the benefits of using this methodology in a customer experience, practice.

Sirte Pihlaja

Sure. Well, first of all, I think that clay has a very important role in our importance in business. Because we play you get people in a state of flow. That's the whole point of doing, as I said, those skills building exercises, they're clicking the participants slowly towards a flow state where they're like participating 100 or even 120% for for some people. So everybody who's come to me after the workshops, talking about how, how, how it was such an energizing experience and, and how they could give so much more about themselves. And I don't know, there's this saying that you can learn about the person more in one hour of play than, you know, a year of conversation. So so that definitely holds up with Lego Serious Play, I would say and, and it gives you the possibility to put you in the right mindset and allows you some space to really think differently, because I think that if you have companies that are competing in the same industrial, so people who are working at those organizations probably have more or less the same skill set does this Seems school schooling backgrounds and and they think alike. So to really make creative design solutions and differentiate yourself from your competition, I would say that you need to have some methodology that really puts you totally out of your your normal, normal behavior and your normal daily work in that sense.

Janelle Mansfield

So as this concept is relatively new to me, I know a little bit about it. But is there something that maybe I haven't thought to ask you that you would really love for CX practitioners to know about this methodology?

Sirte Pihlaja

Well, there's something that we have been working on for this whole spring now is LSP Lego Serious play online. So it's not even you would think that it's a it's such a tactile experience and it needs to be done as in a physical space, you know, with within live, live participants participation, but actually, we've done Several online sessions now with people from all over the world, and it works as well as it does in real life. And I would say that in some respects even better. So that's, that's, I think that's a benefit as well because you can have no, this online version of it where you can have the experts come up come from wherever in the world they are located or, or stationed in and give you those Lego Serious Play sessions.

Janelle Mansfield

That's fascinating. I'm definitely gonna have to check that out. So all of our viewers, thank you so much for joining us. Now if you want to learn more about Sirte or the concept of Lego Serious Play, you can read her chapter in the best selling series of "Customer Experience" and her chapter is in the second edition so "Customer Experience Two" which is available on Amazon, and if you want to reach out to her directly, all of her contact information is below in the description. Thanks again everyone for joining us and if you love this content, please subscribe to my channel. Take care.

About our guest: Sirte Pihlaja, CEO & Customer Experience Optimiser, Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP), Trained Facilitator of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method and Materials

Buy Sirte's "Customer Experience 2" book where she collaborates with 23 other CX professionals from around the world:

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Twitter: @sirteace

Sirte Pihlaja is the CEO of Shirute Ltd, the first customer experience agency in Finland. She is an internationally recognised CX/EX expert, coach, designer and strategist with over 25 years of experience in advising large corporations and brands in various industries and countries. At Shirute, she delivers creative solutions in customer experience management, research and experience design, CX culture, data analytics, voice of customer, and through omni-channel CX & service design.

Before founding her own company, Sirte acted as Business Manager, Board Member, Lead Strategist and Service Design Lead at Accenture, Tieto and Fjord, and for over 10 years as a journalist in both Finnish and international media. Sirte is the leader of CXPA's Finland network, member of the International Advisory Committee and one of CXPA's founding members. She was one of the first Europeans to have been certified as a CCXP. Sirte (M.Sc.) has graduated from the University of Helsinki, Helsinki School of Economics (Aalto University), La Sorbonne (Paris, France) and Swedish School of Social Science. She has strong language skills, working in Finnish, French, English and Swedish.


lego, play, customer experience, cx, methodology, building, tactile experience, applications, give, workshops, work, creating, design, model, experience, creative, participants, participating, strategy, employee

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