Building a Lego Lean Startup!
In my last post of this two part series I explain why we wanted to build a lean startup with Lego and here I expand on the previous post by looking at exactly how we went about the experiment where we used Lego bricks to build a lean version of the Business Canvas. I go into the detail of how we actually ran the workshop and how building a Lego Lean Startup helped us to gain a shared understanding of the business model we were looking to test.
Recap from the previous post
I would recommend reading the previous post in order that you might fully understand why we chose to use Lego bricks to build our strategy canvas, as this post will examine how we used it . However the main points to recap from the last post are:
- The actual words you use to describe a concept, idea or solution can be important
- Our language can be interpreted in subtly different ways
- The Lean Canvas requires you to capture big ideas with a few words
- Gaining alignment on understanding is harder than it seems
- Lego Serious Play is a tool that can gain alignment, build a shared insight and focus the team on what needs to be done
So if you read my previous post you will understand why our team felt we needed more than a whiteboard to really get shared understanding of our canvas.
Using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® with the Lean Canvas
The initial part of any Lego Serious Play intervention is the framing of the problem to be addressed and developing a roadmap for the workshop. Although I am qualified myself in the Lego Serious Play method, I asked a good friend Per Kristiansen to run the workshop as:
- It was a new experiment with LSP and I valued Per’s vast experience
- I felt we needed an independent facilitator to remove any bias I might introduce if I facilitated
- I wanted to be in a team role during the workshop rather than in a facilitator role
As with a lot of things, the preparation for an event like this makes all the difference, so I had a couple of skype calls and emails with Per before hand, where I described what we wanted to get out of the workshop. We looked at both the Business Canvas and Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas and from that we agreed how we would approach the workshop and what I would like to get out of it.
Basically what I was looking for was a deeper shared understanding amongst the team of each of the elements of a canvas and how the team saw that the elements fitted together. This I hoped would overcome the issue I sensed whereby everyone on our team did not have the same picture in their mind of how all the elements of our current model fitted together and more importantly the relative importance of each element.
Introduction to Serious Play
Per started out the workshop, as always, by introducing the team to Lego Serious Play and how to use the tool. This is like learning the language of Serious Play and through a series of quick exercises the team learned the four core steps in Lego Serious Play:
- The facilitator poses a question. The participants in a workshop are asked to build with Lego and create stories in response to a carefully posed question. The question is clear but is very open ended.
- Individuals build a model. Each participant builds their own 3D model in response to the question that has been posed. Participants works with the special set of Lego bricks that are designed to inspire the use of metaphors and story telling.
- The Individuals make a story. Each participant shares his or her’s model’s meaning and story with the rest of the team. It is critical that every person shares their story as this enables 100% participation during the session which builds a commitment to shared action
- Questions and Reflections. The facilitator and participants crystalise key insights that are arrived at from the process by asking clarification questions of the models. The facilitator sums up surprises and connections.
Tackling the Problem
Once the team had completed this stage we quickly got down to business with the team individually building the core of what Scurri.com was to them. Stories were told about these individual models and the shared understanding of what the team believed about the organisation was unveiled.
What to Tackle?
An important point is that we also did not attempt to complete the full canvas but simply took the elements that we were having some difficulty with and the ones where we thought it was appropriate to work on.
- Using Lego Serious Play with the Lean Canvas is a powerful tool
- You must prepare well for the workshop
- It’s not necessary or perhaps even advisable to complete the canvas in the workshop
- The ROI is best realised when faced with complex and challenging issues
- Get an experienced facilitator to set you up with the LSP skills