Playful learning helps young executives see their company in a new light
Our client, a major European energy supplier with a home base in Berlin, puts particular emphasis on developing young management talent. In recent years, they have introduced and refined several methods to identify talent and offer focused support. After initial individual interviews, the young executives meet up to discuss corporate strategy and get to know each other better. Forty handpicked young managers were invited to a one-day meeting at one of the company’s thermal heating plants in Berlin. Also present at the event were key decision-makers involved in this talent-nurturing process. For their part, the meeting allowed them to take a close look at the performance of the up-and-coming generation of executives.
inspiranten had to develop a format with three main aims. First, it should allow every participant to impress with a separate, recognizable contribution. Second, it also needed to get across a lot of important, complex information on corporate strategy, presented in an accessible way. Finally, the location had to be organized to allow space for more personal, individualized discussions.
We chose a location belonging to the company itself – a thermal power plant located in a central district of Berlin. The moderator of the day’s events came from the client’s side. The day kicked off with presentations and question-and-answer sessions with the head of the division, along with two other senior executives. Their participation gave a clear signal to young managers of the importance the company places on talent development, while also allowing them to hear key information about the business at first hand.
In the afternoon, the young managers worked together on generating new ideas for corporate development. The seminar method here was both playful and serious: the main tool we used was LEGO Serious Play™. Using LEGO® bricks, teams of young executives modeled systems, gaining a better understanding of systemic elements, relationships and interdependencies within the firm. In small groups, participants developed cooperative team-based processes, including participative design, agile management, collective self-organization and identity-building. Specially designed LEGO® bricks allowed them to visually model effective processes of change, such as real time strategy, systems thinking and the change management method Theory U. The facilitator for the afternoon was Thorsten Oliver Kalnin, a certified LEGO Serious Play™ trainer. The day was rounded off with an evening meal in Pantry, a new restaurant in Berlin’s prestigious Friedrichstrasse, where participants discussed their impressions of the day and the outcomes of their LEGO®-based training.
The seminar taught through LEGO Serious Play™ was playful, but it sparked serious dialogue among the company’s top young talent, producing concrete results and prompting new approaches to managing organizational change. The LEGO-based systems models they created were recorded in the form of short videos, which could be passed on to key decision-makers within the company.
Overall, the networking day produced greater knowledge, improved orientation and vividly explained the contexts and decisions of senior management. Participants welcomed the ongoing opportunities for networking which the seminar afforded, as well as confirmation that the baton really was being passed on to a new generation of young talent.