In this episode, Ellen Grove speaks with us about how to use Legos (the building blocks for kids) to elicit user requirements.

Ellen Grove is an agile coach and trainer who helps teams make better software through coaching them to create the circumstances in which they can work most productively and effectively. She uses team-building and facilitation approaches to support the transition to collaborative Agile work practices at the team, managerial and corporate level.

After listening to this episode, you will understand:

  • Why games make collaboration easier
  • What Lego Serious Play is
  • How to use Legos to elicit user requirements
  • Steps you can take to enhance communication, engagement, and collaboration in your team


Show Notes


About Lego Serious Play
LSP is a structured facilitation approach for getting work done using Legos. It can be used for strategic visioning, team building, individual career planning and more. It’s used anywhere you’re trying to get people to pull ideas out of their head and out on the table and then have a conversation about those ideas or create a shared landscape.

It’s a repeated cycle of posing a question, having people build an answer to the question, having people share the story of the model they’ve built, and deciding what to do with the story the new shared understanding they’ve developed.

In the end, it’s an approach to get people talking to each other and create a shared understanding.


Why Lego Serious Play?
Sometimes this approach gets people to share that they didn’t know they had or didn’t know how to articulate or share things they wouldn’t have otherwise.
When you use Lego Serious Play, it levels the playing field so that everyone is participating on the same basis. It harnesses the creative capacity of everyone in the room.


Legos for Requirements Elicitation
When we’re designing a system, it’s less about the technical capabilities of the system and more about the users’ relationship with the system and the relationships of the people involved in the process. It’s about how people share information with each other.

Using Legos for requirements elicitation can help fill in the gaps of other approaches to requirements discovery. It does this by getting participants to talk to each other about their understanding of users of the system and what people want from the system. This quickly creates a shared landscape and a vivid shared understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve and for whom you’re trying to solve it.

This approach also brings to the surface areas where there is not a shared understanding or where there are gaps in our understanding.


How to Use the Lego Elicitation Workshop
To use this technique of requirements elicitation, gather all needed parties in the same room. This includes the development team and the users of the system.  Once everyone is in the room, have participants create a series of builds – A warm-up exercise, who we are as a development team, who are the users, what are the needs or the users, what are the key components, and more (see links for full instructions).

This approach allows us to start with the Who and the Why instead of What and How, which allows us to build a more robust solution.


When to Use the Lego Elicitation Workshop
There is no one right time. This approach can be used any time after some initial discovery is done so that we have a good understanding of the purpose and key objectives and well as have an understanding of who to include in the workshop. This can be done in place of a JAD (joint application development) for traditional projects or for agile projects, it can be done as part of the effort to build out the backlog.

Having a time box for each step allows participants to focus on the most important elements.


Ellen’s Tip
Jump in and try a small experiment with Legos or innovation games.  You’ll be surprised (pleasantly) by the results.


What’s Your Take?
Have you used Legos or other games for better communication, engagement, or team building?  Please share in the comments below.



Links mentioned in this episode

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