My blog is dedicated to the fantastic hardworking LEGO SERIOUS PLAY facilitators all over the world who have been trained in this methodology by one of the master trainers.
Many of you know who I am and I have had the pleasure to meet many of you through the past many years. But for you I have not yet met:
My name is Jette Rasmussen. I am a trained LEGO SERIOUS PLAY facilitator, I am married to Robert Rasmussen and I have been working alongside him for the past 25 years. I always jokingly say:
I am actually the one who MANUFACTURED the actual PRODUCT : LEGO SERIOUS PLAY – because it was in my guestroom in Longmeadow, Massachusetts that these first trial bags were made – by me – sitting on the floor – surrounded by huge bags of LEGO bricks, a pile of freezer bags from the local supermarket used for packaging – and a list Robert had given me – telling me how many bricks of which colors that had to be filled into the bags.
This blog is MY story.
And the reason for starting this blog now – in the early 2019 is the fact that 2 persons we have not met, seen or heard from – since late 2003 – now suddenly have surfaced.
How come? Why now?
Could it be because somebody (again) smell “easy money – fortune and fame”?
today I am going to send them all a big HUG and a LOT OF LOVE.
“Them all” – that is YOU – a much loved member of our wonderful LSP family. It is tough times for all of us right now. It is tough times for the whole world and the situation is almost unreal. For all of us it is a fact that our daily lives have been severely changed – and not for the better. An invisible nasty enemy is attacking us leaving very nasty, scary and visible results behind. There is not much we can do, but to follow the rules and regulations that are being told us from our various governments.
It is a scary situation in every way. Also, when it comes to our totally empty calendars. No work. No jobs. No LSP – in the real world. That leaves us worried. Of course. And some of you might have been thinking: what will happen AFTER all this is over? What about LSP? Will our methodology still be valid? Sought after?
When I am sitting at my kitchen table – with my computer in front of me – but with my elbows on the table and hands under my chin – contemplating about the future – there is a LOT that I am very uncertain of. Actually, I am very uncertain of almost everything. How will the world look? How will my own country operate? Will we be able to travel? What about my business? Will it survive? Will LSP survive?
And the latter is the only thing that I am totally certain of:
LSP will be even more sought after, more popular because:
It is the most fantastic tool we can practice when we move on and have to talk about how on earth we can do that – in a world that will be so changed and different in many ways. Because one thing is for sure (and has been proven in a very hard way during the past months) – we people – we need people – and the most important thing for us – is the contact and cooperation with our fellow human beings. That is also what made LSP work from the beginning.
Right now we all take advantage of all the great things that are possible on-line. Mail – chat – and skype and zoom and .. and … and …. It is wonderful that we can keep in touch this way. So much is possible online.
But not LSP! – Because LSP is about HUMAN BEINGS and CONTACT and VALUES.
We all miss our work. We miss each other. But – let us think positive thoughts and send each other a lot of hugs. Here comes a big one from me!
Now follows 10 years of hard work. A lot of it. It is serious. It is fun.
Robert (and Per in Copenhagen) er doing workshops – and both of them train new groups of LSP facilitators. Little by little the LSP community starts to build. I also do workshops once in a while – together with Robert or on my own, I do all the office- and administration work for RASMUSSEN CONSULTING – and I hold my day job as project manager in Vejle. I have always loved to “work with people” and it is very interesting for Robert and me to realize that LSP also works for and with people on sick leave due to anxiety and depression. By 2012 I have to stop my “official day time job” and join Robert in RASMUSSEN CONSULTING full time.
The LSP community grows. The annual meetings grow. And people do no longer laugh when you tell what you are working with. Yes – LEGO is a toy – but it is so much more – when used in the correct way. LEGO is SERIOUS – and we are LEGO SERIOUS PLAY.
Robert has always said: LSP attracts good people. And he is right. The LSP community is a growing group of many wonderful people who all work hard to spread LSP in the world. So of course – now we are “out there” – there are also COPY CATS out there. As with any other success there will always be persons who want to make “easy money on bad jobs”.
An “intersting set-up” (offering facilitator trainings) takes place at Hotel LEGOLAND. A cheap trick to make a copy-training look “LEGO official”. It creates confusion. I am too seriously confused. In the first intro on the site it is said “that the trainer was in the group first developing LSP”. This sentence was removed though – when I wrote to him that I was working side-by-side with Robert and his creative staff in Suffield, Connecticut – and I found it very very very strange that I had never met him ??
Well well – as LSP continue to grow – more and more “copies” surface. Per and Robert er both on a frequent base contacted by frustrated facilitators. But as they both say: the best “defense” (not that we need one) is to DO A GOOD and SERIOUS job.
And that is what we do – all of us. Then something truly MYSTERIOUS happens !!!!!!
A VAMPIRE surfaces. You know a vampire – a kind of “creature – sleeping in a casket for years – until he smells blood”. In this case I am sure – he (once again) smells MONEY. Oh so sad ….
It is no surprise that the vampire chooses to side with the guys at Hotel Legoland (where else ?) But I must admit that it IS a surprise when colleagues in our LEGO SERIOUS PLAY community (and even myself) start to receive e-mails like this one:
Well well – if you read my blog: 2001-2003 you will find the VAMPIRE´s name. You will see that he is the one of the two professors who had the original idea, presented it to the owner of LEGO, spent a lot of time and a lot of money – with NO result at all. And when the LEGO company closed the money box in 2003 – he totally – totally – vanished.
BUT NOW – in 2018 – 2019 – where a lot of good hardworking people have made LEGO SERIOUS PLAY what it is today – all over the world – now the VAMPIRE crawls out of his box. Smelling blood – no – but probably smelling a bit of “fame” and “cool cash”.
Well well – that is life. I just wanted you to know the REAL STORY.
I am looking so much forward to October where I will be seeing a lot of you again.
September greetings from Kolding, Denmark – Jette Rasmussen
January 2004, Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Robert and I are a bit in limbo – to put it mildly. The Holidays have been cruel and sad and frustrating. After Robert´s 16 year relationship with the LEGO company has ended we now find ourselves living in America (moved here 9 years earlier – because of LEGO!) – our son is in college here – we own a house here. After my exit from Executive Discovery I have established a tiny company and I have an office in Enfield, Connecticut. I import Italian skincare and soap products. I am not making any money but I am having fun after my awful time with Executive Discovery. I am now a total “I hate LEGO person” and to survive my anger I make a lot of fun regarding this. Many of our friends here in The States – are Danes – also working for the LEGO company. We celebrated New Years eve together with a group of them and I proclaimed: I simply HATE this company – I will never say the name again and should I ever have grandchildren – they are simply NOT allowed to play with this “thing”. We all laughed – but for me (and for Robert) the situation is serious.
I am so bitter. I am so angry. Robert is sad. Sad and frustrated. Sad and disappointed. Sad and confused. He is also sad that he does not hear from Bart Victor who simply has vanished as LEGO closes ED. Robert is sad and creative. And one of the first days in the new year of 2004 he then totally gives me a chock: “Jette – I want go to work with you. I can sit at the other desk at your office and then I will start my own business as well. – Because I want to continue working with the LSP methodology – this methodology is simply too good to die now. It has a future. I can feel it.
I laugh and say, you can not work in MY office if it is with “this thing”. But of course he can. And he and I are now sitting at our desks on Moody Road in Enfield, Connecticut – on the phones. I am trying to sell the skincare products. Robert working on getting out there – doing demo LSP workshops – to further promote and develop.
MEANWHILE – the “rest of what used to be Executive Discovery LLC” is living quite a confusing and unproductive life in the hands of the LEGO company in Denmark and a number of different clever (?) persons who are trying their best to take control of the future of the methodology. Since the fall of 2003 (where the decision had been made to close Executive Discovery) different people have been eagerly working behind Robert´s back – on how to take over the “left-overs”. One of them the vampire – ehm … grumble – grumble … excuse me : JR ! From his base in Switzerland (Imagination Lab) he (smelling money again?) – and other persons were working together with the then COO of LEGO – Poul Plougman. BUT different winds were blowing constantly in the LEGO company at this time and when Mr. Plougman exited the company abruptly his successor cancelled all these plans and TOTALLY cut the ties to the vampire (JR) for good. – The money box is closed – stay away !!!
Now all IP rights were 100% in the LEGO company´s ownership. And LSP was now a tiny entity in LEGO. For a short while lead by Per and then for a couple of years by Jesper Just Jensen. Robert – who worked on his own in The States now started to work with JJJ. Robert did a couple of facilitator trainings in The States for JJJ. Around this time (2006/2007) Robert developed the version of the methodology that we know today based on a 4-step core process and 7 application techniques. This modular system enabled the facilitator to design customized workshops and workshops of a duration from 2 hours to 2 days. He first described this system in what was called “The 1-day facilitator training manual”.
End of 2007 the LEGO company decided to make a serious effort to turn LSP into a commercial business model. As part of that effort Robert was asked to officially join the LEGO company again. He agreed – but part time only – because he did not want to give up his own LSP business and we did not want to be depending on the LEGO company once again.
2008 : In January Robert and I moved back to our native Denmark. We established RASMUSSEN CONSULTING. – In February Robert started his part-time job with the LEGO company. I started in my new Danish job – leading a project to help people on sick leave (stress, anxiety and depression).
2010: By this time the LEGO company had realized this was not the way for the growth of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY. Robert had already one year earlier given in his resignation to maintain his sanity, integrity and stay true to the LSP values. During the previous years from 2005 – 2010 the facilitator training sessions had primarily been delivered by either Per or Robert.
By the end of 2010 LEGO had implemented the distribution model of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY that we know today.
So – still …. end of 2010 – the JR person is nowhere to be found in the LSP community! (The “vampire” is still in the box !!!! (:-)
Times are busy at the office in Suffield, CT. It is hard work and a lot of it. Even though LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is an actual methodology and an actual product now – it is an extremely difficult “sell”. Most common response: no thank you – LEGO is a toy – for children – not for the business life.
Robert holds the title of COO at Executive Discovery LLC. Bart Victor is holding the title of CEO. He lives in Nashville and comes to the Suffield office once a month (to collect his check) and to chat with Robert. Bart Victor is also attending the very first LSP trainings of facilitators – that takes place in Nashville.
Robert really likes Bart Victor and all his thoughts and input regarding LSP.
The other professor (of the 2 – who originated the idea) – is Johan Roos. Let us just call him JR …. (like the bad guy in the series Dallas (:-) I have never seen him at this point – I have only heard about him – because of the past where he and Bart Victor received office support and quite a bit of funding from the LEGO company because the owner (Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen) thought their idea about using LEGO bricks in meetings was great. The “result” of this – arrives to Robert´s and my home (the story about “2 boxes” – coming from the UK and only containing receipts for money spent).
Well – once in a while I am instructed to also send a check to JR. – Somewhere. Once in Scotland I recall!
Well – well – long and sad story short: the RED figures from the 2 boxes are the opening figures in Executive Discovery´s bookkeeping. I am not happy. It looks terrible. An accounting guy is coming to US from head quarters in Billund. He is giving me an extremely hard time : “you and Robert are running a total loss venture and has been for years”. I am trying to explain that we have had NOTHING to with all the red figures for money spent way before the Executive Discovery setup in the US. But because LSP is still under development – the whole set-up with Executive Discovery is way too ambitious and LSP is hard to sell – the guy s(who at that point in time are heading the LEGO company – it varied quiet a bit in those days) decided to close Executive Discovery after less than 2 years.
Conclusion at the end of the year 2003 : Robert looses his job at the LEGO group (after 16 years). He is being blamed for the losses (despite the fact that the setup of the company was a mix of 98% the owner of LEGO and 1% to each of the 2 professors) and he and I are totally defamed.
An interesting fact is : I have still never seen – or met or having had any other contact with JR – (than frequent instructions as to where to send money). But now the “golden cow” (Executive Discovery and the 98/1/1 set-up) is dead. No money – not funny.
And the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology … what now ???
Robert is busy at his “farmhouse” in Enfield, Connecticut – developing educational products for LEGO – but he is really fascinated by this idea – so he accepts the challenge: can he (and will he?) think about this and see if he can come up with something useful? – This is going to be in his free time because he continues his full time position managing the farmhouse development office.
This is kind of life-changing time for us – as a family – because from now on Robert is constantly contemplating on this issue and he is changing our guest room into a work-zone – bringing different LEGO bricks home. He works a lot and during the next year he has assembled a little group of very creative people who work with him on his “side project”. He also has several meetings with ONE of the 2 professors who came up with the initial idea : to use LEGO bricks in the conference room. Robert likes him and the 2 work well together.
Still …. a lot of the work takes place at our home and several times I cook meals for the wonderful mixed creative group. We have very little “free time” – Robert´s day time job and his development of the actual concept of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY take up all our time. But it is worth it : one day he and his group can present the first “manual” and LEGO produces the first LEGO SERIOUS PLAY kits (after I have been spending many hours in the guest-room assembling “test-sets” from all the different bricks – putting them in freezer bags so Robert could go out and test the methodology in real life).
So far so good – what now?
Well – when the 2 gentlemen first presented this IDEA for the owner of LEGO – there had been some kind of “entity” – in the UK – where some testing and development (?) had taken place and quite a bit of money had been spent.
So now it is decided to “move” this entity to the US and establish an American entity called Executive Discovery Ltd. – Now there is an actual methodology and an actual product – and as a natural consequence of that – Robert is asked to run this new entity. Now it is time to seriously market this amazing methodology.
I have serious doubts -we are at the end of year 2000 and if Robert accepts this position – it means he will “leave” his original position at LEGO (where he has been developing products since 1986) – a position that 5 years earlier – in 1995 moved us as a family – across the Atlantic Ocean – from Denmark to the States.
Robert is in limbo – but he is fascinated by the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology and believes in it – seriously – so he accepts. This is truly a very strange time for me – as his wife. So many things are on Robert´s plate. He and I start to spend evenings and week-ends driving around to find good office locations for the new entity.
PER (Kristiansen) has come on board. He is living in the UK right now and travels frequently back and forth. His new life – as a part of Executive Discovery Ltd. – will be based in Italy from where he is going to market LSP in Europe.
2001 – “Hello world – LEGO is no longer “just a toy for children” – now it is time to PLAY in the conference rooms!”
In our great LSP community some has been approached via linked-in. The message starts:
“Twenty years ago, X X and I (the Vampire) developed the idea, concept and initial LEGO Serious Play product …………….”
I do not find it scary – I find it WEIRD! – Let me see … 20 years ago – that was 1999. That was the year Robert was contacted by (his employer) LEGO – because he and his crew in the “Farmhouse” in USA – were developing great products for education.
Could Robert please think about the IDEA that (2 PROFESSORS) had launched for the LEGO owner – Mr. Kristiansen: Could LEGO bricks be used as a communication ? – a strategy? – tool – for GROWN UPS – in the conference rooms ????
Money had been spent – but it had resulted in NOTHING – except for the IDEA.
But Robert found the IDEA (that the 2 gentlemen had come up with) great!
This monday morning I suddenly started thinking about VAMPIRES – you know these blood sucking creatures that scare us! But honestly – we also think they are quite funny.
In the late 1960´s my best friend Marianne and I went to the movies and watched Roman Polanski´s “The night of the vampires”. We loved that movie and were not really scared because we were smart 13 year old´s and we KNEW – vampires are not for real – because you can not spend 15-20 years in a wooden quiet box and then suddenly re-appear. Something is wrong in this picture and should we meet such a creature – we would all look “it” in the face and ask:
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN FOR ALL THESE YEARS ? ? ?
Hmmmm ….. I wonder – WHY I suddenly started thinking about vampires this Monday morning …..
Could it be because some of you have been contacted by one?
Last week Robert and I were on our way back to Denmark from Tuscany. At the airport in Rome we met up with CARLO SPELLUCCI. He gave us a wonderful present (he and his girlfriend had made) : the sweetest picture (the one above) in a pretty red frame.
I totally love it – and I goes straight to my heart : Robert and myself sitting on the floor – together with the lonely guy – building cathedrals.
It now hangs on the wall in our kitchen and every morning while sipping my wake-up coffee – I look at it – smile and think of LSP – and our wonderful community.
Many years ago Robert said: LEGO SERIOUS PLAY attracts good people – and that is so true.
(it also attracts “others” (:-) – more about that later) …..