Toying Around with LEGO®: Serious Play, Toys for Adults

“Ugh, i’m an adult, i’m not playing.” your inner dialogue may be saying. Or perhaps, your inner dialogue is elated at the thought of having fun.  I know mine is. Play for children is their way of learning whether they’re aware of it or not. For adults, our play is often very goal focused, like working out or being on an intramural baseball team or even playing a video game. Serious Play takes the best of free play and surrounds it with parameters to be impactful for adults.

We should play more and make time to play more to live a happier, healthier life. And yes, even at work.

Serious Play may sound like an oxymoron but it’s not. Having a playful mind fosters creativity and innovation while solving problems and improving communication. While the use of Serious Play in the workplace may be aligned to specific outcomes, it provides us with an opportunity to have fun while working towards our goals.

What actually falls into the Serious Play category?

The most well known form of serious play is LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® because, well, it’s right there in the name. But truly, anything can be applied to specific situations an organization is going through as long as it makes the collaboration process seamless and fun. Gamification, the process of making a game surrounding a particular topic is another famous one and so is….wait for it….improvisation!  Improv is a good example of social play, where people are able to use their minds and bodies when participating, allowing them to put their whole selves in just like the hokey pokey.


LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshops are a form of hands-on learning that caters to groups of adults. While we do play with LEGO®, that’s not what it’s all about. We hold discussions around topics relevant to your people and your organization.  In our discussions, we use LEGO® BRICKS to facilitate conversations and questions stay directed at the model and not the person to maintain a safe space for sharing.

“When you play with your hands, 80% of your brain is activated.”

Do I have to be creative for LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®?

Everyone is creative! Even if you don’t think you are. With LEGO®, we focus on originality. Getting everyone to share their story is more important than the team worrying about if they are being creative or not.

Do I have to be a storyteller?

You have to be able to dig deep into your past and present for stories to tell, but you don’t necessarily need to be a storyteller. It’s the facilitator’s job to position each exercise in a way that all participants are comfortable responding.  At times we focus on the characters, the props, and the settings of each model as a way of uncovering the stories you have within.

“Characters don’t exist in a vacuum; they are defined by their relationships” Second City Almanac of Improvisation

I found that quote to be interesting and here’s why. When we hear stories in context of Serious Play, some people may be scared. What we’re truly doing is showing the relationships between people, between different scenarios, and between environments.

There’s a lot more Serious Play that we can discuss and we’ll share some activities and toys to use in future posts. In the mean time, grab a toy and see what ideas it may bring up!