All of my facilitation work is with corporate clients – government (central & local) as well as the private sector. I am a Business Games & LEGO® Serious Play Facilitator with all of my work based around activities and serious games with a focus on outcomes.
“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than you can from a lifetime of conversation.” (Plato)
Many organizations invest in learning & development (workshops training, coaching, mentoring, etc.) and a growing number use serious play / serious games. In fact, with regards to the use of LEGO® Serious Play®, it is already used by such organizations as Airbus, IKEA, Samsung Virgin Atlantic, NASA, and Stanford University.
The Serious Play Facilitator
I have always had a dislike for dry chalk-and-talk style lectures. Historically, I would fall asleep every Wednesday afternoon during 2 hours of my A’ Level Geology. I am obviously embarrassed about this inasmuch as I was not only on the front row but positioned directly in front of the tutor.
It may be this experience that has led me to put the same quote into every tender / bid document regarding corporate education: “we hate boring workshops“.
This led me into exploring more with flip charts, post-it notes, coloured pens, etc. – bringing arts & crafts into the workshop. At one point my favourite workshop was around Design Thinking – blending play with an outcome.
This helped me move down a new pathway as a business games facilitator – using activities and games as a way to draw out certain outcomes aligned to the corporate ambition of the client.
The science behind it
The American-Canadian neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Graves Penfield was the first to map out the brain’s sensory and motor cortices through neural stimulation. The idea for mapping the cortex was first discovered during his treatment of epilepsy patients, where he used electrical probes to pinpoint and remove seizure-causing nerve cells in the brain. In 1951, he published maps of the sensory and motor cortices of the brain showing their connections to the various limbs and organs of the body.
The sensory homunculus is a physical representation of the somatosensory cortex – a little man with oversized lips, hands, feet, and tongue with skinny arms and legs. The somatosensory cortex is found within the parietal lobe behind the frontal cortex where it processes touch sensory information. The body is scaled according to the amount of cortex it is devoted to it.
As you can see, large hands represent an extensive proportion of touch receptors within the somatosensory cortex, meaning our hands are a lot more sensitive to touch than the rest of the body.
In terms that I understand, our hands help us to think (if you’ve ever sat in a meeting with someone tapping their fingers or clicking their pen, it’s likely to be due to them thinking).
The activity-based learning & development interventions draw upon:
- structured facilitation methodology (clarify and declare the challenge; everyone builds their solution; share the ideas; collectively reflect)
- activities based on research which suggests that hands-on learning produces deeper, more meaningful understanding
- fosters creative thinking through inferring meanings and building metaphors
- turns 2D issues into a 3D entity (turning MS / Mac office report into a model for all to see)
The benefits of a Business Games / Serious Play Facilitator
- access a democratic process where everyone can express a view – everyone has equal air time
- enhance understanding as communicators ‘transmit’ in different ways and others ‘receive’ better
- enable groups of people to create a shared understanding – reducing ambiguity
- help group to explore systemic consequences of decisions (systems thinking)
- 100% participation – a far more democratic way to build collective approaches
- 100% engagement – catering for visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic styles
Where the Business Games / Serious Play Facilitator adds value
To be fair, the beauty of hands-on learning is that it can be applied in so many different contexts including:
- Internal meetings
- Problem Solving
- Decision Making
- Creativity & Innovation
- Strategic Thinking
- Team Cohesion
- Leadership Development
- Conflict Resolution
All of my learning & development interventions are play-based, ranging from 0.5 day through to my 100-day tailored intervention programs.