If you’ve ever worked as part of a remote team, you’ll quickly realise that effective communication is essential to achieving success.
While this is true even for individuals who work in the same building, communication is critical for a remote team because they don’t have access to casual talks around the water cooler.
Remote teams confront communication issues.
Humans are excellent at interpreting signals from a person’s body language, communication style, and tone of voice in order to guide social interactions. However, as a remote team, we miss out on most of these critical context pieces. As a result, humour and sarcasm are frequently lost in translation, and essential points may be missed.
When you’re working with a team that spans various time zones, effective communication becomes much more difficult. A communication sent to a teammate in another timezone, for example, may not receive the prompt answer it demands if they are already fast asleep. As a result, interactions might become fragmented and distracted, leaving little room for humorous, casual conversations that are essential for team bonding.
Slack, Google Hangouts, and Skype are just a few of the applications that might help distant teams interact more effectively. However, these methods don’t always account for that final personal touch.
Is there a better approach to encourage positive interaction? We did, in fact, find one – LEGO Serious Play (LSP).
What exactly is LEGO Serious Play?
LSP is a problem-solving and communication strategy that encourages participants to use their hands to solve problems. This frequently enables individuals to address a long-standing problem that cannot be handled solely by thinking.
Participants are guided through the session by a facilitator who asks them a series of questions that are closely related to the company’s goal. The participants then construct models out of LEGO bricks that figuratively depict their response to the topic. These models are then used to guide group conversations and problem-solving sessions, with the goal of fostering consensus and encouraging team members to think on their feet.
This type of team-building activity was just what we were searching for for our Dallas offsite. We packed our bags and flew here from seven locations (Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Denver, Montreal, Mexico City, and Bangalore) in four countries (US, Canada, Mexico, and India) to join our team for the LSP workshop.
Could these tiny modular blocks, on the other hand, actually help us bond as teammates? Heck yes!
How LEGO Serious Play helped us improve our teamwork relationships
(1) Learn something new about ourselves and our team.
We all brought varying levels of creativity and LEGO knowledge to the table. While some of us had clearly never handled a LEGO block before, others were able to construct an impressive LEGO sculpture on the spot.
For example, while the rest of us were busy glueing two or three bricks together to make a model, Jonathon Lumpkin, a member of our Customer Support team, whipped together an aerodynamic plane in no time. We had no idea we had a LEGO master on our hands!
We were all able to design very impressive models for each task despite our varying levels of experience, an adrenaline-inducing time limit, and the determination to succeed.
(2) Foster empathy among our colleagues
Despite having received the same directions for each task, it was surprising to observe how each of our partners stressed a different component of each model.
Building a tower out of LEGO bricks was one of the problems we faced at the session. Some of us erected a big tower with a flag on top to symbolise our own accomplishment, while others built a pathway in front of the tower to direct people to the entrance. To ensure impenetrable security, some team members built a wall around their towers. To put it another way, each LEGO model was a direct representation of how the individual who constructed it saw the world.
As the session went, we all gained a deeper understanding of our teammates’ personalities and were able to relate to them much better.
(3) Develop a clearer picture of the big pictur
Each task in the LSP series builds on the preceding one. At the end of the session, each of us had to sculpt one enormous connected model using the LEGO models we had made, to figuratively reflect how we fit together as a team.
This huge model assisted us in visualising our major challenges and opportunities (both as a team and as individuals) and gaining a better knowledge of the larger picture.
(4) Take on the difficult questions head-on.
LSp works best when it comes to bringing up difficult things that are difficult to discuss among coworkers and team members. Each of us was required to build a LEGO model to metaphorically communicate our thoughts and opinions during the training.
“What is the biggest hurdle keeping you from attaining your goal?” instead of “What is the biggest obstacle preventing you from accomplishing your goal?” “Build a representation of some of the constraints that are preventing you from attaining your goals,” LSP says.
In this way, the attention changes from ourselves (the participants) to the model itself, allowing for open debate in which we all felt safe expressing our opinions on controversial topics without offending anyone. At the same time, this change toward open discourse allowed us to be more open to new views while also improving our critical thinking abilities.
(5) Work together to set a common aim.
Despite the fact that our regular strategy meeting was replaced by an afternoon spent making LEGO models, our team left with more ideas than before!
Rather than dealing with the usual agenda items and discussions, LSP forced us to reconnect with our creative sides and focus on fleshing out our concepts. The finished model provided us with a completely new perspective on our collective future.
We were staring at visual representations of Signeasy in LEGO form, which made our goals appear more attainable than ever before and rekindled our desire to complete them all.
LSP was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We definitely recommend it if you’re searching for a team-building activity that can help your team interact better.