By Rachel Walch, Jan 18, 2018

The power of ToP methods stems from ensuring each participant has a voice in building better solutions together through consensus than any one of us can alone. ToP is transformative for teams tackling issues big and small, new and old. LEGO SERIOUS PLAY (LSP) has a similar effect on groups working toward better solutions and understanding with shared knowledge. Here’s a look at how these methods work together.


Using the LSP method, participants build models out of LEGO bricks to represent their thoughts on an issue being discussed. The four main parts to an LSP session are: the facilitator poses the question, the participants build a model to answer the question, the participants share their model with the group, and the group reflects on what they heard. There are no observers – everyone builds and everyone shares. This changes the dynamic from 20% of the people doing 80% of the talking to 100% of the people participating 100% of the time.

After posing a question, facilitators often tell participants, “Don’t have a meeting with yourself!” Participants can get stuck on what to build and become paralyzed by possibilities. Allowing your hands to do the thinking for you, LSP establishes the “hand bone to the brain bone” connectivity. It is not uncommon for a participant to build a model and then make meaning from what they built – participants use their hands and intuition as their guide.


The questions posed by the facilitator can be a Focused Conversation that guides them through an ORID to arrive at a place of deep understanding. As the group drills deeper and deeper into the issue, they prepare to move to a place of action. LSP sets the stage for a ToP consensus workshop, strategic planning, or action planning session by engaging all personalities on a level playing field.


During a recent strategic planning, I facilitated a group through LSP as an opening environmental scan to set a baseline understanding of individual and team strengths. This set a playful tone for strategic planning, and allowed a group with a tumultuous and painful history an opportunity to focus on the team’s positive aspects. Interspersing LSP into a workshop can also break-up “sticky-wall fatigue” groups may have in back-to-back workshops, and spur creativity by expressing their thoughts through a 3-D medium.

Meshing LSP and ToP methods together can deepen understanding and build momentum. Using Focused Conversation with LSP elevates the experience and expands shared understanding. As I continue to experiment with the interaction of the two methods, I look forward to sharing more with the ToP community.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Rachel Walch is currently in Mastering ToP and was recently certified in LEGO SERIOUS PLAY. She leads training for a human-centered design initiative called Innovation by Design for Hennepin County. Contact Rachel at