Thinkering

“Thinkering’ is a word coined by Michael Ondaatje in his novel The English Patient. It expresses the creation and understanding of concepts in the mind while tinkering with the hands.

When we physically engage with things, especially with our hands, we generate a great variety of sensory images. These sensory images help us understand our immediate realty and serve us in our personal and shared meaning making.

A surprisingly large part of the human brain is dedicated to controlling the hands. Therefore, when people construct things with their hands they simultaneously construct theories and knowledge in their minds. When we “think with our hands” we create more new neural connection thus unleashing creative energies, new modes of thought, and novel ways of seeing what most adults have forgotten they even possessed. The notion of “learning by making”, or “thinking with your hands”, draws on neuroscience, the use of play and expressive arts in therapy. It bring out insights and learning that intellectual reasoning alone might not be able to discover.

LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® for Positive Psychology has shown that adults can regain their ability to play, which offers creative possibilities because it emphasizes freedom and plays down responsibility, self-consciousness and shame. This non-judgemental environment of play is more likely to foster surprising and innovative ideas.

Hands On Thinking™

The Hands On Thinking™ method is the core of the LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® for Positive Psychilogy method as well as a range of other tangible and visual facilitation methods.

The six elements of the Hands On Thinking™ method provides a framework and language that helps participants relay what they know, hope for and seek to do. More importantly it also ensures a structure that enables learning and creative collaboration in groups.

The Hands On Thinking™ method was developed by the Danish expert in organisational learning and development Mads Bab. Through his own action research and supporting research from the science of learning, well-being and positive psychology as well as neuroscience the method outlines the DNA of “thinkering” – The creation and understanding of concepts in the mind while tinkering with the hands.

Hands On Thinking™ extends the open source aspects of LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® as outlined on seriousplay.com. It takes a holistic approach to the method by providing a framework that helps the facilitator look beyond LEGO® bricks onto the purpose and content of the workshop.

By learning how to use the Hands On Thinking™ method as a facilitator you not only learn how to leverage the use of LEGO® in workshops but also how you may use other tangible and visual tools to ensure collaborative learning and sustainable change.

The Hands On Thinking™ (HOT) method consist of these six elements:

  • Purpose of the session;
  • Framing the model building;
  • Sharing narratives and metaphors;
  • Exploring and reflecting together;
  • Combining and connecting to identify patterns and shared stories.
  • Capturing insights and moving forward;

 

Purpose of the session

Fundamental to any LSP session is the purpose of using the tool. Generally speaking, LSP should never be the goal or purpose of the workshop but “only” the means to explore a topic relevant to you and your participants.

 

Framing the model building

Framing the model building is a fundamental part of any LSP session. A good framing helps focus attention in the right direction and aligns group members towards the same general idea. Good framing ensures open, insightful and interesting conversations that help participants understand the challenge at hand.

 

Sharing narratives and metaphors

“Everyone builds – everyone shares” is a core principle of a LSP session and really is the moment in a workshop where the group starts seeing each other’s opinions.

 

Exploring and reflecting together

While the metaphors that have been modelled are shared it is generally advised just to listen and reflect silently. As a facilitator you may, however, ask exploration questions or encourage other participants to do this. This part of the Hands On Thinking™ method is in many ways what separates a good LSP session from a great one.

 

Combining and connecting models to identify patterns and shared stories

The connective aspect of LEGO® invites participants to not only connect individual building blocks but also whole models. These can be aligned into a combined narrative, connected to explore systems or organised into themes allowing participants to explore patterns and emergent properties of the challenge at hand

 

Capturing insights and moving forward

A LSP process enables divergent thinking but every LSP session must end with users moving from simulations to the real world. Capturing the most important insights and develop a way to keep these in the attention of the users is fundamental to ensure a longer lasting effect of a LSP session.

 

Other people matter

Social interactions and groups are incredibly important and influence us every day: we live in groups, we learn in groups, we work in groups, we play in groups and we worship in groups. Therefore it is valuable to understand the individual behavior in a social context to better understand ourselves and our identity.

That is one of the main reasons why Build & Share is group facilitation method that seeks to bring in social context that many traditional positive psychology based interventions do not. The narrative approach, that is central in Build & Share, makes it possible to better understand optimal functioning and group dynamics through the discovery of situations and social contexts where specific patterns of energizing and authentic thoughts, feelings and actions occur.

Social and still personal

We need to understand the stories that we have consciously and unconsciously composed over our lives in order to understand ourselves and how we interact in a group. It is important to note that we do not create these stories in a vacuum or out of the blue. The process of creating a narrative identity is dynamic and occurs interchangeably between social and personal processes developing a more complex psycho-social understanding of identity (Gauntlett, 2007). In that context our social experiences and the way we interpret our experiences, form our idea about our identity and our perception of reality. The themes from positive psychology that are explored with the Build & Share method should therefore always be interpreted in a group context.

Improve both individual and group engagement

The Build & Share method sets the right frame for people to explore different versions of themselves and others and investigate what characterize when they work and function at their strongest. It is a useful method to apply when the goal is to learn more about what is important and meaningful to people, and it when dialogue and exploration of stories that form an idea about our identity and perception of reality are a key concern. Build & Share is especially good to apply when you want to improve both individual and group engagement at the same time, and part of the process is how to optimally use the topics from positive psychology individually and collectively towards a common goal.