Lego lecture at UNB looks to build up adult creativity

At a University of New Brunswick lecture hall in Fredericton, adults had a chance to ‘seriously play’ with Lego to create 3D models and unlock their creativity.

Lecture shows how differently people think when given the same task

At a University of New Brunswick lecture hall in Fredericton Wednesday, adults had a chance to "seriously play" with Lego to create 3D models and unlock their creativity. 0:51

At a University of New Brunswick lecture hall in Fredericton, adults had a chance to "seriously play" with Lego to create 3D models and unlock their creativity. 

For one exercise they were all given the same six pieces of Lego to create a duck. When all the ducks were in a row, it was clear they're all different.

"I think that when they first come in, they think this is another silly fad thing," said facilitator Jacqueline Lloyd Smith.

Barb Hoyt and Jess Baker learned that having the same tools and the same direction doesn't mean you're going to get the same result. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
She also said that evaporates after the first 30 minutes. With a background in art therapy and business, Smith jumped on this method. 

She became an official Lego trainer and has been flying around the world with the colourful blocks. She admits her company's Lego collection is massive. 

"We have to rent storage," said Smith.

Thinking differently

The groups who've used this technique vary from a city strategizing about crime fighting, to Procter & Gamble, to the United Nations. 

"We were able to make the point, at the United Nations, that we need to hear from everyone and we need everyone thinking differently if we're going to move forward and solve the problems of the world," said Smith.

Everyone at the lecture as asked to create a duck out of the same six Lego pieces. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
The next instruction to the group was to build a tower. Like a seemingly straight forward office memo, it sent people in very different directions.

"When we were told to build a tower, I thought of height first," said participant Seth Giberson.

The majority went for stability.

The University of New Brunswick sponsored the public night, and will be using the method with its own extended learning department to help them assemble a strategic plan. 

Smith said it's the only type of strategic planning session where participants have passed on a coffee break.

A new way to strategize

Groups who’ve used this technique vary from a city strategizing about crime fighting, to Procter & Gamble, to the United Nations. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
The idea of using Lego to visualize problems was born of collaboration in 1996 among two business professors in Switzerland.

Johan Roos and Bart Victor joined up with Lego Group owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, according to the Lego website.

They were looking for new ways of visualizing and solving business problems.

By 2004, Lego took it over, and eventually developed a community based model, giving groups a new way of strategizing, and giving Lego a new revenue stream.

About the Author

Catherine Harrop

Catherine Harrop loves a good story. She has been a journalist for more than 25 years.