Thursday, 1 March 2012

Serious Play at NUI Galway

Serious Play is a hot topic. As the official LEGO SERIOUS PLAY web site states: 'Serious Plan is an innovative, experiential process designed to enhance innovation and business performance. Based on research that shows that this kind of hands-on, minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities'

I was delighted to be invited along an Operations Strategy class recently to see Serious Play in action. Mary Dempsey and John Hynes facilitate a multidisciplinary mixed group comprising business and engineering under- and post-graduate student in a purpose-built laboratory in the new NUI Galway Engineering building.

Students use SERIOUS PLAY 3D modelling techniques to build operational models; and from those models, together with the theory, the operations strategy is developed. The first task for the students was to model an individual 3D metaphorical representation of a McDonalds outlet within the stated timeframe (15 mins). On completion, all students articulated their ideas to the wider group while fielding questions and answers. The next challenge was to create a group representation of the outlet, to reflect the key values and priorities of the group team of 4/5 students (20 mins). A challenging and fascinating process.

It was very interesting to observe the Serious Play methodology which: follows a tightly structured learning design; necessitates quick deadlines for individual and group-based tasks completion; along with a number of presentation and reflective activities for students.

I am looking forward to the next Serious Game session in three weeks time, where the topic will move on to modelling the McDonalds of the future.

Exposure to the Operations Strategy has given me food for thought; particularly in the transferrable nature of the methodology to create competitive and fun learning activities.

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