Moving to environmental sustainability using LEGO®

Many Women on Wings’ partners work with sustainable solutions like natural dyes, solar looms, organic or regenerative farming. To inspire more business partners to reduce their footprint, Women on Wings hosted a series of webinars on circular economy and sustainability. Yet, Women on Wings wanted to understand how its own team and business model ecologically impacts its surroundings with the aim to bring more ecological thinking and actions into the organization.

A session with LEGO® Serious Play®

Women on Wings saw the positive effects of a LEGO® Serious Play® session that project coordination expert Adrianne Jonquiere-Breure facilitated with Women on Wings’ business partner GoCoop – A Social Marketplace to improve its internal communication a few years ago. It stimulated everyone’s insights, concerns and brought forth creative ideas in a brief time. And so, Adrianne was asked to hold a session for the Women on Wings team, board members and founders to kick off the organization’s journey toward ecological sustainability.

Adrianne says that engaging in activities like these using one’s hands brings out unexpected ideas from one’s subconscious that do not surface in a Zoom call or in a sit-down meeting. She says: “Recent studies suggest that humans relate more to 3D models than to pictures, and creating 3D models engages your brain in a way that stimulates creativity and aids idea retention. And that was this session’s goal.”

Exchanging ideas

Adrianne prepped the group with a quick duck-building assignment. She asked people to imbue a LEGO® brick with meaning saying, here is a beak, this brick is a wing. The point of the activity was that even though we use the same bricks and have an equal amount of time, never are two designs built the same. “The same Information gets processed uniquely by each person. Often an eye-opener,” Adrianne says.

When it came time to share the ducks, she asked participants to focus on what was being presented rather than on the presenter. This allowed for a safe exchange of ideas, a high degree of acceptance and gave everyone, especially the quieter people, an opportunity to contribute.

Uncovering a sustainability vision

After the first assignment each person then proceeded to discover, build and share a model of their vision of sustainability. During an activity focused on Women on Wings’ stakeholders, each builder submitted a brick to a shared group model which represented their most important idea on how Women on Wings can be more environmentally sustainable to its surroundings.

“Unless there is a strong (ethical) reason a part should not be in the shared model, your idea will remain,” says Adrianne. “The exercise is about gaining consent over consensus on what should be in our final group model of a path toward environmental sustainability.”

With the group and individual LEGO® models, Women on Wings now holds a shared language around sustainability, significant insights and a starting point. A sustainability team is carrying out research, doing peer interviews for best practices and learning how to measure Women on Wings’ future impacts. The sustainability team is committed to translating the session’s outcome into a strategy for the team, experts and with business partners.

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