This exercise was developed as part of an Agile technical skills training class that we teach. For more details on this or other courses, contact us now. You are welcome to use these exercises yourself - more details here.

Working collaboratively in LEGO®

Intent

Most teams are a bunch of individual silos that have become good at passing work between each other. This exercise is designed to show how real collaboration is different from the way we normally work.

Round 1: Building in silos

Instructions

A pile of LEGO® bricks is placed in the center of the table and each participant is asked to pick up one brick to indicate which colour they will be building with. Assuming there are enough colours, each person should have a different colour.

The table is instructed to build a house, with the following constraints.

  • There is no talking
  • Each person may only touch one colour of brick - the colour that was assigned above
  • The house must have one window and one door
We've given about ten minutes for this part of the build when doing it in a conference setting. You want enough time for them to build something significant.

Debrief

  • How did that feel?
  • Discuss the amount of collaboration that was seen.
    Normally we see large blocks of the same colour (see picture) where people worked individually before trying to merge. Discuss that.
  • Did you try to collaborate?

Round 2: Building collaboratively

Instructions

Disassemble the previous build although each participant retains the same colour.

This time the table is instructed to build a pirate ship, with the following constraints.

  • Talking is allowed
  • Each person is only allowed to pick up a brick of their assigned colour but once off the table, it can be passed to someone else who can assemble bricks together. If it touches the table again then it can only be picked up by the person who is assigned that colour.
  • The ship must have a sail

Debrief

  • How did that feel?
  • Discuss the amount of collaboration that was seen.
    This time we usually see real collaboration. Discuss that.
  • Compare this build to the first