This post is by Anila Shrivastava, Founder of IdStats Research & Consultancy.
Today, study after study has proven that our brains are hard-wired to understand and retain stories, not to retain long lists of facts. This also holds true for stories vs. facts related to companies, brands and products. In this context, this post seeks to share the merits of using Lego Serious Play as a framework for understanding consumer experiences and narratives anchored in the conscious and the subconscious mind. Hence, if one can understand and learn the narratives that consumers are creating in reference to any brand, company or product, the results can be utilized to address a creativity challenge or a business problem on hand.
What sort of vehicle does this person drive?
When exposed to a question like this, without even the face of the man revealed for most of us the automatic response would be based on our earlier experiences. This is true of any situation; the human brain is designed to lean in on previous experiences.
According to Gerald Zaltman, in his book 'How Customers Think' nearly 95% of all cognitive activity takes place in the subconscious. Thus our subconscious is always working, monitoring our reactions, influencing emotions and dictating behavior, based on previous real life experiences.
Another quick question: What comes to mind when you think about the term 'coffee'?
Take a deep breath and think… What do you visualize? A black brew? Does a bitter taste brush against your palate? Do you see a brewing machine in your office or kitchen?
This is because when we read the term coffee a cascade of electrical impulses links neurons that encode the concept of coffee with concepts of coffee, blackness, bitterness, and office.
This example seeks to highlight a fact that neuroscientists have long since established; experiences are stored in the human brain in a nonlinear associative fashion; however these images are not stored in our brains as colorless text, but are stored as visual or sensorial experiences.
This in turn means that using text or words only to access memories and experiences about your company and/or product is limiting and problematic. To learn deeper truths and access the constellation of brand narratives that are associated with your brand, you need to go beyond traditional consumer research. Thus about two years ago at IdStats we started experimenting with Lego Serious Play (LSP) framework to craft winning narratives, superior brand experience and to unlock creativity to address a business problem on hand.
What sets LSP apart is the fact that it is a two stage process. To elaborate:
Stage 1: Individuals use toys to construct a metaphorical 3-D model of their narrative, experience or brand. By building models, participants build and share inner values, latent ideas, hidden meanings that otherwise would hardly emerge. And the models built are a rich sources of narratives, metaphors that offer a unique opportunity to explore values, knowledge and experiences of the individual.
Stage 2: Once the individual models have been built and shared the participants undertake a constructive discussion where participants negotiate and share ideas and literally build new ideas together using the individual shared LEGO models as a starting point.
Co-creation is a buzz word in today's business literature and has been defined as "The idea that helps unleash the creative energy of many people, such that it transforms both their individual experience and the economics of the organization that enabled it." (Francis 2010). And this is what LSP naturally does: It unleashes the creative energy of participants and transforms it into opportunities, experiences and changes for the organization or brand.
At IdStats over the last eighteen months, we have used successfully leveraged adaptations of the LSP idStory' to facilitate:
- A better understanding of the people our brand's service and to understand the role the brand plays in their lives
- Brand identity and strategy workshops
- Concept and product ideation workshops.
Successful innovation often results from altering the way that you look at the challenge.
LSP helps generate new insights, ideas, combinations, connections, and solutions through the oft neglected but pivotal lens of play!