2021 International LEGO Serious Play conference (1)

Well, I’m here at the International LEGO Serious Play conference organized by Intherface, and I thought I could give you some near-live blogging. And when I say I’m here, I mean I’m actually here, in the flesh, in Denmark, at the heart of the LEGO ecosystem, in Billund. I’m here for a few days, for […]

Well, I’m here at the International LEGO Serious Play conference organized by Intherface, and I thought I could give you some near-live blogging. And when I say I’m here, I mean I’m actually here, in the flesh, in Denmark, at the heart of the LEGO ecosystem, in Billund.

I’m here for a few days, for a two-day conference and a four-days advanced training, both of which focus on the ability of LEGO Serious Play to help clients dealing with change. And it’s a crucial thing, isn’t it? Both for the construction industry and all industries, nowadays, on top of being my core business. This is bound to be interesting.

“There’s always a new normal”.

Johan Roos, co-author of the LEGO Serious Play method

The sense of excitement to participate in a real life conference again is shared among participants, but you can sense there’s another excitement amongst organizers: it’s the first time they try a hybrid conference. And the hybrid option is something I’m sure everyone had to attempt, for better or worse, prepared or not.

The conference is revolving around topics:

  1. Digitalization;
  2. Globalization;
  3. Belonging.

The struggle has been real, for a lot of people more than myself. Environmentally it’s true that Denmark hasn’t been as remotely affected as my home Country, and they’ve been dealing very well with the emergencies they got, but let us never forget that I work in digitalization. It’s my thing. My specialty. Me and my team were doing smart working before it was cool. And my significant otter works in technology, in a field of technology that has seen a significant growth during the pandemic, of all things. So yeah, as usual, I feel privileged compared to other professionals here. And in feeling that I can contribute significantly to the digitalization aspect, I am very keen on hearing around the concept of belonging because that’s the thing, isn’t it? How do we foster and create a sense of belonging without co-location and physical interaction. Regardless of how much I loathe the expression “new normal”, mostly as a part of my lingering denial, this could have a tremendous impact on both education and workplace dynamics.

The conference kicks off with a fellow Italian, Alessandro Lanteri. He’s Professor of Strategy and Innovation at ESCP Business School, and he also teaches for Hult International Business School where Johan Roos is Chief Academic Officer, for Saïd Business School of Oxford University and for the London Business School. He’s a popular speaker and the author of CLEVER, a best seller in Italy and the UK. His next book, “The Economist Edge, Innovating for Impact”, coauthored with Ted Ladd, will be published in 2022.


«As a leader, you need to make decisions that set up your organization for success now and in the future».

Alessandro Lanteri

Since 1980 to today, we’ve been living through the fourth industrial revolution and Alessandro takes his own life span to guide us through the main innovations we have witnessed, starting from a development in automotive.

How much fuel does it take to drive from Copenhagen to Billund? Around 18 liters, nowadays. With a car from 1980, it will take 33 liters. A 45% improvement: is it good? Compare it with another technology: the 5’25’’ floppy disk. How much digital music could you store on that? 90% of a second. Nowadays on the i-phone 13 you can store around 34.5 years of music. +10.000.000% improvement.

Since the 1980s Apple2, the technology has evolved in different dimensions: performances, size and price.

In his 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ray Kurzweil proposed “The Law of Accelerating Returns”, according to which the rate of change in a wide variety of evolutionary systems (including but not limited to the growth of technologies) tends to increase exponentially.

Every 2 years, we get twice the performance, half the size, half the price.

Exponential tech however has a catch, which is the deceptive section of the curve in which we’re kept way below the line of a linear growth.

Exponential change is new: our brain is not wired to predict exponential change and thinks in terms of linear change. The technology is moving faster than our ability to predict this change.

A model to navigate change thus revolves around the 6 ds of exponential techs.

  1. A technology that was analogic becomes digitized: the moment this happens, the trajectory of improvement becomes exponential but the first part is deceptive, we don’t see it, we dismiss it;
  2. In the blink of an eye, we shift from Deceptive from Disruptive: as soon as it breaks even with the linear, it’s gone. 
  3. there are three main consequences on business:
    1. Dematerialize: lots of devices and tools we bought have become services inside our main hardware of choice;
    2. Demonetize: the cost of replicating value for an intangible good is almost zero;
    3. Democratize.

The average technology of today’s cell phone would cost 32 million dollars of computing power. The same operation could be done today in 5-10 years.


So, the main questions Alessandro is prompting us to ask ourselves are:

  • What physical services can be digitized for the first time?
  • What is the next best thing that is not yet giving satisfactory results?
  • What expensive product/service will change the world when it becomes available?

«If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near». —Jack Welch

In his opinion, and he makes a very interesting point, the things that it will be possible to do, will define what it means to be a human.

So what’s this 4th industrial revolution? The impact of an industrial revolution usually means technology performance, behaviours and decisions, business models, industry structures, economy-wide incentives, society-wide patterns.

«In retrospect all revolutions seem inevitable. Beforehand, all revolutions seem impossible». Martin McFaul

Strategy in the 4th industrial revolution revolves all around few keypoins:

  1. Industrial scale can be rented: upfront investments guarantee a competitive advantage at first, but the fourth industrial revolution relies on different dynamics;
  2. Industries are becoming blurred: innovation is happening cross-field, it’s not advantageous anymore to think in terms of “my industry”: it’s an old fashioned concept coming from the previous revolutions.
  3. Ecosystems, not companies, are competing;
  4. Data powers the new business models just as much as oil and electricity used to power the old business models.

The Six Strategic drivers are thus Collaborative intelligence, Learning systems, Exponential technology, Value facilitation (platform business model), Ethical championship, Responsive decision-making (being driven by learning and data collection). Hence the CLEVER title of the book (pun intended). Certainly a must read.

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