When LEGO® helped make a movie

A while back I did a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop with a group of people who were making a documentary about the Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods in San Francisco. They had a lot of footage, and a lot of ideas about what to focus on, and who else to film, but they were having a hard time figuring out how to make it all jell. It’s possible to look at all the disadvantages, violence, crime, environmental harm, etc., or to look at the way the community comes together, tries to make things better, grows community gardens, etc.

So, I worked with them to build a LEGO® model about all the things that were important to incorporate into the movie. In the end, we had a model with a clear story line running through it. The model looked like this:


And the movie looks like this:


Can you see the resemblance? 😉

I’m honored to have helped with this movie, even a tiny bit. I know the people who made it worked hard, cared a lot, and came together to make something amazing.

Gender Bias

I read this post today. With a husband in the game industry, it’s something we’ve talked about, and I’ve seen when I go to his company parties. I think it’s a complex problem, and this post has some great ideas about how to help get women into games. Into all computer related industries, really. In fact, we need a much more diverse workplace in computers, as seen from the article in today’s SF Chronicle: http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/How-tech-s-lack-of-diversity-leads-to-racist-6398224.php

I don’t think there is an answer I can give in one blog post. How do we make computer science a desirable, accessible, affordable, and compelling destination for women, blacks, Latinos, gays, transgenders, etc.?

I’d like to say something infinitely wise right now, and get reposted and become famous for my great wisdom. But really, life is complex, and there are lots of reasons why things are basically unfair. There is institutional racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, and something as simple as playing with LEGO® bricks can’t possibly end all that. However, one thing that attracted me to LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is that it does level the playing field. To an extent. As much as possible. And I feel that when life is inherently unfair, anything we can do to help make it more equitable is important.

This Is Me

Identity Plate Talia Dashow

Identity Plate Talia Dashow

This is my new identity plate from my latest LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® training. Want to learn more about me?

The front corner shows a strength/ability that I have. I started building it to show flowers made out of industrial materials since I also have a small crafting business where I make flowers out of zippers. Then I realized this also works metaphorically, since I can find the unique and beautiful parts of people when they show me the mundane and even dark parts of themselves.

The yellow and black striped column shows how I deal with adversity. In elementary school, I followed a friend through the woods and she stepped on a yellow jacket nest. She was stung once and was instantly hysterical. I got stung, and stung, and stung, and still managed to stay calm and get us both back to school and near people who could help us before I started crying and wailing too. In a crisis, I can propel (hence the propeller) myself and my companions through until the crisis is over and I can fall apart in safety.

The pillar and ladder show a major hurdle in my path, and what I hope to accomplish. At the top of the tower is business success – a person in a crown of respected ability, next to a bowl of money. I know many of the steps to take up the ladder, but there are gaps which make it challenging. If I can make it up the ladder, I can help people see farther and learn more, and I can make a living doing it.

And the crowd of heads around the sides represent both my great challenge and my great strength – I work best in community. This make it difficult to work alone to build my business, and it makes me powerful helping a group come together to become a community. I help people find common ground, find ways to fit their ideas together even if they are different, and find connection and belonging. I didn’t have enough LEGO® heads so I also used small bricks. All of them are different, and they all (even the skull with the helmet, walled off and unappealing) belong and contribute.

What do you want to know about your teammates? What do you want them to know about you?

Hands are an Information Highway to the Brain

“On average it is estimated that our hands are connected to 70%-80% of our brain cells.” (From the training for certification in LEGO® Serious Play® facilitation)

I’m fascinated by this statistic. I realize it’s imprecise and I can’t give you studies to back it up. But I know that people experience this connection all the time. Artists start creating without knowing where they are going. Musicians train their fingers and then let them play, without consciously controlling each movement. And during the LEGO® Serious Play® training my hands found some surprising insights. I didn’t always know what to build, and my controlling brain wanted to know before I started. But my hands knew what was interesting to hold and click to something else, and a model would grow before I knew exactly how I would talk about it or what it represented.

Even when my brain knew exactly what I wanted to build, using both hands accessed parts of my brain that I didn’t normally use for analysis, so when it was time to talk about it, I often came up with some additional insights. We all write, and talk, and even sometimes sketch diagrams to help us solve problems. But how often do we sculpt, or play, or dance, or use some other part of ourselves to help out? LEGO® bricks are especially useful since they are both logical and creative, so they can capture both sides of our brains and channel it all to something larger. There is so much of our brain that we can’t access consciously, finding a way to tap into some of our innate knowledge and bring it to consciousness is enormously helpful.

In fact our conscious minds can only hold on to about seven things at a time. By investing artifacts with information, our brains can let go of these pieces of info and be ready to find or develop something new. It’s like post-it notes or to-do lists, but with symbolic and metaphoric images which can help push information into long-term memory. Suddenly we can have complex conversations about a lot more than the seven things we can hold in our minds because we have this rich symbolic landscape we can manipulate and discuss.

In case you can’t tell, I’m super excited about this LEGO® Serious Play® facilitation method, and I can’t wait to start sharing it with people. There is so much richness in people I can help tap and share! And there are so many ways this method can be applied – team building, strategic analysis, understanding and strengthening a brand, business development, the list is long and growing. If this sounds exciting to you too, please comment and we can talk more about it!