Local entrepreneur using Lego to help companies with problem-solving and team-building.
Remember all those times you were playing with your Lego as a child and you would build the most amazing buildings, houses, farms, or cities that anyone has ever seen? Maybe it wasn’t even as a child, it could have been yesterday because Lego is timeless and fun for people of all ages.
Well, what if there was actually a deeper meaning into everything you created, and you were actually telling a story about yourself as you were building? One local entrepreneur has been helping people and companies realize this with one brick of Lego at a time.
Kristen Klassen is the President and CEO of Brickstorming, a business facilitation, educational consultancy, and visual artistry company specializing in the Lego Serious Play method.
Brickstorming began after Klassen graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Masters degree in Disability Studies. Klassen began working with children, and quickly noticed there were some kids who had a lot to say, but had trouble communicating their concerns.
“I began working with kids with disabilities and some had communication disorders. I would try interviewing them and try to understand their experiences in a particular program that they were involved in and I was really struggling to get some answers.”
Klassen knew there was more that could be done and was introduced to the work of Daniel LeGoff who is a licensed pediatric neuropsychologist, and the pioneer of LEGO Therapy. A psychology graduate of the University of Winnipeg, LeGoff has done work with kids with autism with Lego where he builds saying bricks have specific meaning and you can almost build an entire language out of Lego. Klassen learned a lot from LeGoff’s methods, but had envisioned something else, so she sought out the original developers of Lego Serious Play, Robert Rasmussen and Per Kristiansen, and was trained by them. Klassen is now a Lego Serious Play Certified Facilitator and in the process of becoming a certified Trainer of Facilitators.
Lego Serious Play is a facilitation methodology offered by a Lego Serious Play Certified Facilitator. Its goal is fostering creative thinking, strategic problem-solving, and team-building using Lego bricks. Now Klassen is using her skills to help companies and their employees come together by using Lego.
How it works.
“When I come into a team-building session for a company, the process is basically four steps. I frame a question for the client, team or individual, they build in response to that and then, everyone shares their story, and finally we reflect on those stories and draw insight,” says Klassen. “I usually start with something simple like building a tower out of Lego and the reason for that is that when you ask people to engage in creative endeavors, there tends to be a lot of ‘I can’t draw, or I can’t do this,’ but when it comes to building a tower out of Lego everyone can build that and in turn get their points across.”
“Everyone starts with exactly the same parts, exactly the same instructions, and yet no two people will build the same tower and it becomes a very visual way of seeing that no two individuals see the world in exactly the same way, and in turn everyone becomes engaged in the process,” Klassen adds.
In almost every group or meeting there’s usually one or more people who have a dominant personality. The meeting then becomes what is called a 20-80 meeting, or a meeting where 20% of the people do 80% of the talking. Brickstorming helps bridge that gap and gets everyone involved in the process.
“It’s really beneficial for big decisions in companies where you want 100% commitment because if people don’t feel like they’re heard at a meeting they won’t commit to the solution,” Klassen says. “People will share more about themselves because it’s safe and because it’s not about you, it’s about the model you had built, so it becomes less critical and less personal.”
Every person, school, or company is different, so Brickstorming custom designs their meetings for each individual, workplace or team to make sure they get the best possible results.
Brickstorming is not only for helping companies. Klassen has worked with children and schools helping with problems such as bullying, harassment, and diversity in the classroom. Klassen has even worked with students trying to find out what they want to do for a career.
“Being able to work through models of what you want in a career and what you are looking for in your career, we can help to define your career path based on things you’re actually interested in.”
A career where you get to bring Lego everywhere is a dream of many, but Klassen enjoys the process and the reward of helping people who may not normally be heard, and helping them find their voice.
“What teams and schools are finding beneficial about Brickstorming is that it’s 100% participation. If you’re at the table, you’re building and you’re sharing and you’re a part of the process and to me that’s the most rewarding.”