The PMO Plays Some Serious Games

January PMO Flashmob in London was like playgroup for grown-ups! We had Parag Gogate with us (Change Innovation Lab) and he ran a Serious Games session for us at the Ticketmaster UK bar in London. Although that might sound like we were just messing around, playing with Lego for a few hours – the reality was very different. Yes it was fun, it was also very fascinating to see how people were working together, using Lego for metaphors and literally seeing people thinking whilst building.

The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology is an innovative, experimental process designed to enhance innovation and business performance. It is based on research which shows that this kind of hands-on, minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities.

The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology deepens the reflection process and supports an effective dialogue – for everyone in the organisation. The LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology taps into the human ability to imagine – to describe and make sense of the issues at hand, to initiate change and improvement, and even to create something radically new.

The session opened with us getting warmed up – getting used to the way Lego Serious Play works. There was about 50 people there, in groups of about 5/6 people per group.

Each group had a selection of Lego bricks and bits and pieces of stuff like figures; wheels, ladders etc.

The groups got started with a simple exercise – build a tower. The individual team members then had to explain their tower to each other – for one minute each. They talked about things like the structure of it; what it was for; what colour it was; how many bricks they used; how many storeys it had and so on. This was all about practicing the technical skills of building with Lego.

The next session was all about take five bricks and connect them in any random way. This one was all about practicing creative thinking and using metaphors. Lego Serious Games are all about giving the bricks any meaning that you want to. You don’t need many to build a model!

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. Plato

The final warm up exercise was about building your dream holiday. The session is designed to practice storytelling. In this session, the group were encourage to be active listeners to each others models; that each person had to share their model; tell the story behind the model and to be curious. There was also “trust and think with your hands” which is literally what we saw people doing. It was like a small table at playgroup – some were happily chatting away whilst building – others preferring to let their talking happen in the build.

How Will the PMO Support Agile Projects and Programmes?

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After the warm up (and a break for pizza) we were on to the session that was PMO focused to see how using Lego Serious Play might help us find solutions to the PMO supporting Agile.

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First each person was asked to complete an Agile Groups/Teams Readiness Indicator score sheet (right). The score sheet was used to get us thinking about Agile and our own organisations. There were two groupings of questions – one to explore the learning dynamic – the behaviours we perceive with teams working with an Agile mindset. The second groups were the environment dynamic – the context that our Agile teams are working in. The score sheet is used to create an Agile Readiness Score – are we / the team ready for working in an Agile way (left). This was used to give us an insight into how groups of people get ready for Lego Serious Play, getting them to think about the topic area. It also gives some great insights into where everyone is on the indicator. If you’re using Lego Serious Play within your organisation you can probably see how useful this is – is everyone on the same page?

Onto the building. Everyone was asked to build a model of PMO vision to answer the question, “How will the PMO support Agile projects and programmes?”

The interesting thing was watching each group tackling this – there were a fair few skeletons being used for example. Some were used to denote transparency and no skeletons in the closet. Others were used to represent a scaling back of processes and control. There were wheels used – on plenty of different types of ‘vehicles’ which were either about helping to drive forward delivery, or to clear the blockers ahead. Ladders were used – some in terms of supporting the Agile teams that were balanced precariously on top, others to denote a journey or a bridge. Groups of figures were used for standups; some of the figures turning the other way to represent backlogs.

A creative few hours that were fascinating – interesting to see how quickly people got into it – how easy the conversations seemed to flow – lots of listening and questions being asked. After the session there were still conversations going on about how they felt about the session, how easier it was to explain a process or a flow of work when you’re doing it through metaphor and storytelling.

So Lego Serious Play got the thumbs up – great insights, really great way for people to meet and get to know each other for the first time too.

Watch this space as we arrange a few more Lego Serious Play nights with PMO Flashmob in Birmingham and Manchester!

>> You can download some of the slides and further information about Lego Serious Play here


If you were there on the night, why not add some of your own thoughts about it?

Want to get in touch with Parag? Here’s his details:

About Parag Gogate

Parag is passionate about helping organisations, teams and individuals improve their change capability and agility through serious games and play. He has been involved with multitude of business transformation programmes and projects in multi-national, complex and fast changing business environments.

Some of his varied work assignments have included IT applications/system implementations, integrated management system development & implementations, new contract mobilisations, development and implementation of business change framework, leading process & customer service improvement initiatives.

Parag is a committee member of APM’s Enabling Change Specific Interest Group where he leads Innovation & Collaboration. He is also member of Agile Business Consortium working on developing Agile Leadership and Culture frameworks.



Big thanks to Parag and to the team at Ticketmaster UK for hosting the event

About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay is the founder of PMO Flashmob and a Director at PMO Learning - the sister company to PMO Flashmob and the best training company for PMO people in the world! She's also the creator of London's first dedicated PMO Conference; Director of Arras People and PMO enthusiast. Loves dogs and gin.

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