Company or departmental vision or mission statements are often long. They have been formulated by a number of people who all wanted to include something. They are not always memorable and many employees can't recite them and many don't even understand what they mean let alone support them.


This article isn't so much about the need to have a short, succinct vision or mission statement - I hope that should be obvious by now - but rather how a particular tool (LEGO Serious Play) can be used to create a vision or mission statement that is short, succinct and memorable - especially from an existing one.




LEGO Serious Play is a facilitated fun process using LEGO bricks to help uncover new insights while giving everyone in the group a voice and confidence to participate and converge to a shared commitment. My example is one of a group of leaders in a university's brand and marketing department. LEGO Serious Play was used to help a group of 13 leaders achieve a remarkable result.


While planning the session which I was asked to facilitate, I focused on one of the main outcomes which was to revisit the current lengthy mission and values statement and shorten them. After two warm up activities, I asked the group to build two LEGO models: 1. Representing their ideal working environment and 2. Representing what they could do to demonstrate living the current mission. This got them thinking abut the future and their current belief in the existing direction.




Next, each person was asked to build a model that represented an aspect of trust. Each person was then asked to place a red brick on the most important element of their individual model. Then in pairs, they formed a shared model and were asked to eliminate any excess bricks while still holding the same meaning of the newly combined model. They did several rounds of this and I was quite persistent telling them they may still have too many bricks and so long as they kept the essence of the meaning they were to remove any excess bricks they could. The pairs were able to reduce the models significantly.


I then got them into three groups and showed the mission statement on a big screen and asked them to apply the same thinking. What words could we remove to reduce the length of the statement but still keep the essence of the meaning? After three rounds of discussions, we had it! A new seven words mission statement (the original was 29 words long) and everyone was on board. In a matter of about thirty minutes, we had achieved something they had taken hours to do previously and now had a succinct message to hang all of their activities on.


At the end of the two day session, the group referred constantly back to the amazing experience of the 'chunking' down process that LEGO Serious Play allowed them to experience.



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