Previously, I wrote about the Four Room Apartment and how it helped me develop a clearer understanding of team dynamics. Another thing I’d like to share from my experience at Flip the Clinic is the concept of Lego Serious Play.
Towards the end of the first day, a massive pile of Legos was brought out. We were tasked with building out a piece of the problem, as we individually perceived it. The focus was on the problem – not the Solution. This was an important distinction. It required us to think in the present moment about issues we were encountering, rather than keeping us on the path to the wrong solution. When applied with the mindset of the Four Room Apartment, it helped us all get on the same page in the Denial room. By building out the pieces of an abstract problem with tangible, physical blocks, it gave us something real to communicate with and relate to the other issues we were facing.
After our individual building time, we then presented our piece we built to the team and explained what it meant to us. We worked to integrate our individual pieces into a collective whole. This resulted in a shared vision of the actual problem. For our team, we all knew that there was data trapped within the EHRs and other silos, like HIEs. There is also this collection of health-focused startups that are either wanting data from providers or that have data and want to share it with providers.
Once we had this view of the Problem Space, we proceeded to refine it over the next day and a half. On the second day of the conference, we worked to find a solution within the messy problem space modeled by our Lego creation. We eventually came to the point of realizing we could be the facilitators of data exchange via a sort of mesh network. We could build an interface that would speak the upcoming standard (FHIR) and help integrate that into new and existing programs. Initially, we can work with startups that have data and want to share it amongst themselves and, once the standard is adopted and implemented by the major EHRs, these startups could more easily integrate into such a system. This clarity allowed us to move through the Confusion room and make our way into the Renewal room.
From there, the Lego model was no longer being altered, but instead served to help facilitate communication and act as an anchor we could come back to and reference. This was particularly useful when discussing concepts, such as the FHIR standard, interaction layer, and the stakeholders’ relationships to each other. This was particularly useful when sharing our ideas with people outside our team or technical circle.
As for where we go from here, we got a bunch of Legos for the office (the basic blocks and “education” sets have a nice selection of options) as well as the book by the original founders of the Serious Play methodology. While it may seem odd to build an abstract idea in plastic bricks, it works. I hope to share other examples of how we use Serious Play to help increase our team interactions and communication.
Just remember, if you can’t think of what to build, just start building.
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