Recap: LEGO® Serious Play® Workshop

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by Oxana Schmidt

The NEFI innovation network offers a platform for cooperation between Austrian industry, renowned research institutions and the general public in order to implement the decarbonization of the manufacturing, energy-intensive industry through research projects.


A concrete example of this is the use case at Greiner Packaging Austria. The company specializes in the production of sustainable plastic packaging, including yoghurt pots and salad containers, which are produced at its plants in Kremsmünster and Wartberg. The material flow plays a crucial role in the entire production and logistics process. An efficient design of this flow not only enables the physical movement of materials, products and goods throughout the manufacturing process, but also helps to avoid bottlenecks, delays and increase productivity. In terms of the circular economy, it is also necessary to optimally control the material flows of by-products, such as plastic regrind through start-up scrap or internally/externally processed products, within the company in order to minimize resource losses. Greiner Packaging Austria has therefore set up an interdisciplinary working group with the aim of optimizing the material flow and identifying and eliminating any weak points.

The use of the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method in this context underlines the importance of new perspectives for the successful implementation of the energy transition. Creative methods such as these are particularly suitable for dealing with complex issues and conflict-laden topics. Hierarchies are deliberately left out and the topics are dealt with in an abstract form in order to facilitate a value-free discussion and avoid potential conflicts. The holistic approach and the use of several senses, such as haptics, articulation and discussion, enable a higher level of engagement and a comprehensive approach. Such methods are particularly suitable for dealing with anticipated events with a significant impact.

The workshop held from October 2023 to January 2024 to identify optimization potential using the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method illustrates the intensity of the efforts. In preparation, data on the current situation was determined, by-product flows were visualized and all internal departments and external business partners were involved. The workshop itself, supported by Business Upper Austria, took place on January 31st in Kremsmünster and was divided into 4 working groups of 3 people per material flow area. Each group initially dealt intensively with the problem area of material flow, with each group member creating their own structure within a specific time frame. In a subsequent round, the structures within the group were combined into a joint structure and presented to the other groups. The focus was always on the buildings themselves, not the discussants. The second round concentrated on possible solutions, whereby only buildings with the best possible solution were created. The subsequent discussions and reflection sessions revealed some fascinating solutions that might have remained hidden without this method. Several bottlenecks were identified and are now being worked on step by step. In particular, the externalization of the problems through the buildings and the external perspective of the external moderation opened up new perspectives.