What is serious play for? Where is it beneficial to take it?

There is a simple and very powerful criterion to understand where playing seriously makes a difference. Let’s see it.

April 26, 2024
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4 min read
A girl keeping a post-it, on the table lego pieces.

This article is part of our series dedicated to the world of Serious Games and it is also available in Italian and in Spanish.

If you would like to receive updates on this and other topics related to the evolving world of work, subscribe to our newsletter here: https://cocoon-pro.com/#subscribe

To find out more, or get your organisation involved in this approach, contact us here: https://cocoon-pro.com/get-in-touch/


We receive a lot of questions about the areas and uses for which serious play is recommended. On one hand, there are organizations that recognize it as a powerful tool but are not yet sure where to place it in relation to their needs and challenges. On the other hand, there are individuals interested in becoming professional facilitators wondering how and to what extent they can apply it. This article is for all of them.

We have been practicing and teaching LEGO® Serious Play® since 2013, as well as other forms of serious play methodologies long before that. As we have shared in another article explaining what serious play is, we have seen people in various contexts around the world achieve the best possible results through play. We have observed this both in large formal organizations like the European Commission and in cutting-edge start-ups or scale-ups, as well as in socially-driven organizations in challenging environments. If there’s one thing we are absolutely certain of, it’s this: wherever people can make a difference, well-applied serious play is one of the most powerful things that one can bring.

Let’s see what this means in practice.

In every job, as in all our lives, there are things that have an exact or at least optimal answer. If, for example, your washing machine breaks down, you need a technician who knows that answer and can fix the problem. Full stop. It wouldn’t occur to anyone to organize a workshop to repair the washing machine, right? …right?! We hope not. In fact, where the expertise of a professional is applicable, that’s the way to go. And there are many areas, from designing digital tools to optimizing processes. In fields like these, serious play won’t make a difference.

However, alongside these areas, and actually all around them, there are all the spheres of activity of an organisation (and of life) in which there are no exact answers. They are technically called complex domains. There’s no expert to save you because no one knows what the best thing to do is. And we do not know because there is no one best thing to do that one can know in advance. If you’re a parent, we do not need to say anything more. But even if you recall your own adolescence, that should suffice.

Now, the interesting thing is that the more interconnected and variable markets and society become, the more complexity and unpredictability increase. In these situations, the couple of million years that we humans have in our DNA on how to navigate complexity and uncertainty make all the difference in the world. Creativity, intuition, emotional intelligence, the ability to perceive in real-time the consequences of small variations, the multiple communication and cognitive modes — these are the things that make a difference.

Exactly, these are the things that serious play amplifies, trains, and embodies. And it doesn’t matter what kind of organization or team you have, because people are people everywhere. Believe us when we say this after having played seriously with people from completely different cultures, with differently-abled individuals, with people of all ages. As we have already shared with you, serious play enables vital aspects such as the following:

  • Full engagement and increased motivation of participants, resulting in people expressing everything they think, feel, and are capable of creating regarding complex topics or challenges.
  • The ability to quickly make decisions about complex challenges and problems, including assessing elaborate scenarios and possible courses of action, allowing participants to base subsequent actions on a shared understanding of the information upon which the decision is based.
  • Experience-based learning that fully engages individuals, activating all their cognitive abilities and remaining firmly anchored in the participants’ minds for a long time.
  • Enhancement of human skills in communication, collaboration, creativity, as well as team dynamics.
  • Increased workplace well-being and stress reduction, both through direct dynamics like the opportunity to feel actively involved and valued, and indirect dynamics such as increased understanding of colleagues’ perspectives and ways of thinking.

Whether you need to improve the work of a team, redefine the strategy of a division, evolve a product or service, make a tough decision, redesign interactions between functions or departments, envision a new business model, understand what your customers truly want, enhance your recruiting process, or face many other complex challenges like these, serious play is undoubtedly among your best options.


Sprouting from a decade-long collaboration and deeply grounded in years of action research and experimentation at international level, we have created the Serious Games System (SGS) methodology as the most adaptive and comprehensive paradigm for the use of serious games, designed to put people at the center.

If you are passionate about using serious games to unlock human potential, don’t miss the SGS Open Source Playbook: download it here or reach out to us at play@cocoon-pro.com


You might also be interested in reading: “Serious Games System (SGS): What is it, where does it come from, and who is it for?”


This article is part of our series dedicated to the world of Serious Games and it is also available in italian and in spanish.

If you would like to receive updates on this and other topics related to the evolving world of work, subscribe to our newsletter here: https://cocoon-pro.com/#subscribe

To find out more, or get your organisation involved in this approach, contact us here: https://cocoon-pro.com/get-in-touch/

This is the account of our staff at Cocoon Pro. Wish to know who are the people in Cocoon curating our content production?Have a look at the people page on our website here. For any question or feedback we would be happy to hear from you! Reach out here: hello@cocoon-pro.com