The development of the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY method
A twenty year plus journey
The history begins in 1995, when the family owned LEGO® company was lead by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the grand child of the founder. The company had been immensely successful, but new toys such as videogames were entering the market, children were playing differently, “Growing Older Younger” was the term often used, and LEGO® was starting to feel this. Perhaps a new strategy was needed; consequently, processes were set in motion to come with a solution.
However, Kjeld Kristiansen was dissatisfied with the results of the company’s strategy-building sessions. While his business was about imagination, the results from these sessions were decidedly unimaginative.
playing with an idea
At the same time, two professors from IMD business school in Lausanne, Johan Roos and Bart Victor, were looking into different ways of creating strategies. LEGO had a close relationship with IMD, which included faculty providing consultancy for the company. Kristiansen connected with the two professors and over the next couple of years they practiced their strategy concept using LEGO bricks instead of usual methods if words, Post-it Notes, and whiteboards.
The business school professors experimented with and became more and more adept at the use of building with LEGO® bricks. However, something still did not “click”, something was missing in their equation. The bricks alone certainly did not result in new thinking and more imagination.
making the idea real and working
Paradoxically, missing was what LEGO® as organization knows at its core: How humans learn and develop. To alleviate this, Robert Rasmussen was involved in 1999. Robert came from a position as director of product development for the educational market at LEGO®, and he started immediately to systematically investigate the feasibility of using LEGO® bricks for strategy development. Once the group realized that these strategy concepts could be more than just theory, the work moved into developing an actual method and to make this method reproducible and robust. From late 1999 the development was conceptualized, driven and managed by Robert Rasmussen. Per Kristiansen joined the effort end of 2001.
This work resulted on a January 2002 launch of the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY method. From 2005 – 2007 Robert on his own initiatives further developed and expanded the original version into a methodology that enables the facilitator to design customized workshop for a wide range of applications and for workshops of varying complexity. He did this by creating a modular system consisting of a 4 step Core Process and 7 Application Techniques. Per Kristiansen, was now Head of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY in LEGO Company and in parallell continued the development of the facilitator training, often in close collaboration with Robert.
The organization and funding of the development
The LEGO Company was not involved in the development of LSP; rather it was one of the companies that were used as a research case in the development. From the beginning in 1995 the development of LSP was funded by a company called Executive Discovery LLC, owned by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. From 2002 – 2004 Bart Victor was CEO and Robert Rasmussen COO and President for Executive Discovery, while Per Kristiansen was responsible for sales and distribution in Europe and the Middle-East (EMEA). Robert and Per were also the global trainers of facilitators. Executive Discovery hosted all facilitator certifications; they were delivered in the US or in Denmark. Until 2004 Executive Discovery LLC held all the IP rights to LSP and the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY name. LEGO Company then took over the IP rights by taking over Executive Discover. However, all facilitator training programs were still delivered by Robert and Per. This lasted until 2010 when LEGO discontinued this activity. Robert and Per subsequently decided to found the Association of Master Trainers in LEGO SERIOUS PLAY.
Frequently asked questions about the development
of the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY method
Why is LSP still alive after being “dropped” by LEGO in 2010?
What happened to Executive Discovery LLC?
What is available for all under the Creative Commons License?
What is today the involvement of the LEGO Company?
Are there any facilitators that are officially appointed and approved
by the LEGO Company?
The Association was founded in response to the 2010 decision by the LEGO Company to make the basic LEGO SERIOUS PLAY idea commonly available through their Creative Commons License. This led to an increased interest in the method and in offering training in facilitating and designing with the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY method.
The purpose of the Association is to determine and observe global quality standards for facilitator training thus avoiding the risk of diluting the method and infringing on others copy rights.