On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic and our lives suddenly changed. Businesses locked their doors, borders closed, flights where grounded, and people were ordered to shelter in place. After years of playing out hypothetical disaster scenarios in our "playing with strategy workshops" with various clients, and considering many models for potential paths of action, it felt very surreal to find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic.
It can be very difficult for anyone to know what to do when thrust into a crisis situation. We keep hearing people say, “We have zero clarity—no vision.” Our clients are looking to us to see how creative companies respond. They find comfort in the fact that we are activating the flexible, agile, and adaptable thinking that we have encouraged them to use. We are not perfect, but we are willing to try and learn by doing, not take ourselves so seriously that we can’t admit mistakes, adjust and move forward. We are working to be resilient.
At Strategic Play, we continue to get emails and LinkedIn messages from LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitators. Some are people we know because we trained them. Others are searching for answers regarding how they can continue to practice under the constraints of COVID-19. Many ask us, “What’s next?” or “How might we move forward from here?”
I am not writing this because I’m concerned about our industry. In fact, given the current situation and emerging facts, we know that soon we will all be in high demand, more than ever before. I’m writing this to provide some perspective.
As trainers and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methods facilitators, we have a leadership role to play.
There is a call for serious action.
In the next few weeks, we will be delivering information on the things we are doing to lead. We hope this brings not only comfort but, we hope, an inspiration to you.
How we act right now will say so much about our future. It will shape how the world sees us, and more importantly, how we see ourselves.
What we did and are doing right now:
Took immediate action
Activated a well-designed response plan
Learned new tools
Supported each other
1. Took immediate action: First, in an abundance of caution, we at the Strategic Play head office stopped all face-to-face training globally. We swiftly moved all our offerings online. At times, we wondered if we were being too alarmist. Then we wondered if we were not alarmist enough.
2. Activated a well-designed response plan: Second, we launched online. Luckily, we had previously played out the idea of a pandemic and we were ready with well-curated online programs that were designed and developed by experienced and professional instructional and curriculum designers. In the next 36 days, after the announcement, we launched our first online LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® certification in English. It was attended by many forward thinkers who were ready to embrace online learning. Days later, we launched the second course, which we delivered to the U.S. Air Force. They were happy to lead the way and help prototype this new delivery system.
Next, we delivered training in Spanish. We followed this with German and Portuguese training programs. Our trainers embraced the technology, jumping on board to test and prototype and share their thoughtful insights. This global readiness was only possible because of our amazing training team. Together, we reimagined how work and business could move forward. Everyone was willing to put their individual needs aside, working collectively for the good of the group effort.
3. Learn new tools: Third, we experimented with new technology. This was one of the hardest parts. We needed to learn new things, while simultaneously working from home. We had children and pets underfoot, and families and extended families needing support and care. We took this all in stride, while also taking on new tasks like disinfecting groceries. We began to look at our workspace with new eyes, considering what we did and didn’t need. We became ruthless in protecting our time. Saying yes became less important than saying no to overzealous and random ideas. We had to do all this as we managed our own grief as events, conferences, and travel was canceled.
4. Supported each other: Fourth, we spent endless hours talking to all our clients and working to accommodate their needs in the least disruptive ways possible. We provided a sounding board to those who needed to vent. We found ways to support each other in weekly global chat meetings, which became super productive as everyone shared new ideas. The team members helped each other to move forward into a new and strange normal. We also began to reach out to other leaders to hear their stories and to compare and contrast ideas for best practices.
Instead of laying off staff, we hired more staff and invested in our future.
5. Acted locally: Fifth, we looked around our landscape for ways we could be useful close to home. As trainers and facilitators, we are process experts. As such, we have amazing skills and talents that we could and should put to good use right now. The underpinnings of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® are not only valuable in the playroom with LEGO®, but they can also be carried forward and utilized in committee work online and while social distancing.
We volunteered locally to help with the social and economic impact of COVID. Our effort continues as we work on neighborhood committees and our local COVID-19 Leadership Task Force.
Why volunteer? Because right now, more than ever, every single person and their unique talent is needed. If you are not sure what to do next, this is a perfect time to build your local community. Call your local town hall and ask how you can help. You and your family will benefit directly by your actions now. Any energy you put out into the world will come back to you in more ways than you can count.
It’s true we cannot see into the future.
We can only see a very short distance in front of us.
But imagine driving in a car at night when all you have for clarity is your headlights.
You can only see 300 ft ahead.
But if you have a good road map, and you know where you are going,
you can drive clear across the country that way.
What you can do now:
Take immediate action to keep yourself and your family safe.
Develop your personal and professional plan.
Keep learning. Consider taking a course online to keep your skills sharp.
Find ways to support others, maybe another LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator from your training program would love a call or email?
Act locally by volunteering your amazing skills and make your world a better place one brick at a time.
*And make sure you send us a note and let us know what you are doing in your local community so we can include your leadership story in our blog!
Time to turn your bright lights on! The future needs you and the future is right now.