LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method as a Wind Tunnel.
The aerospace industry is one of the most competitive industries in the world. Efficiency, speed, and security are some of the variables considered when designing a new aircraft. Companies invest billions creating the best possible vehicle. Thru a process known as wind tunneling, concepts are examined by putting them inside a wind chamber, pushing air around the model, making it look as it is moving to understand and test the dynamics and asses the strength and weaknesses of the vehicle. By exploring the reactions, the team of engineers and designers can together iterate and modify the design until they reach their “best possible solution.” Sometimes it’s the fastest, sometimes is the most efficient, but certainly, security is paramount before putting a machine into the market, helping the company understand if it’s up to their aspirations.
The Wind Tunnel as a metaphor in business strategy development has been widely used in scenario planning for a while, describing how strategic decisions are subjected to various scenarios to see which flourished and which floundered. The scenarios, acting as ‘the wind,’ and various decisions, acting as ‘design iterations’ that will lead to the desired outcomes.
In the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method we say that play is exploration before implementation. LSP as a thinking method and problem-solving tool has proved itself to be an amazing way to explore when building and crafting strategy, where everyone in the room ‘leans in’ unlocking their full potential in favor of the challenge. For these reasons, the Wind Tunnel metaphor offers a fantastic way to explain its use and success, and the dynamics of giving everyone’s mind a hand, with the LEGO® brick.
When participants are building their strategies using the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY Method, by putting together the little colored bricks, they allow themselves to explore their thinking process and do fast iterations until satisfied with the new knowledge built. We talk of PLAN DO PLAN DO vs. PLAN PLAN DO DO as a way to see and understand multiple answers faster than other methods. The questions asked to the models can present themselves as the air pushed thru the tunnel that helps us see and make sense if this new knowledge is as we think and want it to be.
In LSP you are also exploring several outcomes, opportunities, decisions, even events that could happen in a given identity, landscape and system. The physical models help to test and examine how well the whole could react, understanding the impact of interdependency, and iterate to create the insights that will lead to the aspirations. As abstract as a strategy can be, the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY method is a great and concrete way to see, understand and modify before putting it out for implementation. You are basically ‘wind tunneling’ a strategy to understand what works and what doesn’t, helping organizations become faster, more effective, and make better (and safer) intentional decisions that will lead to the company’s “best possible solution.”
Top CEO’s understand that the process that leads to a vision is messy, expensive, and frustrating. Many lack the capacity to understand the complexity of the systems they live in, or the tools that help them explore with their teams, the decisions that could lead to becoming the organization, team or individuals they want to become. Globalization and technology tend to make systems more complex, and agile, thus the necessity to have a better understanding by exploring what can be unpredictable. The LEGO SERIOUS PLAY Method helps to unlock the team’s potential with a more involving method to make this wind tunneling a more engaging experience where everyone participates.
Wind tunnels allow the aerospace industry to be the safest form of transportation in and outside of this world. It enables engineers to design machines that can reach the stars. Perhaps we should all consider the use of similar techniques that could help individuals, teams, and organizations reach their own starts.