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THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY: A Love Song of a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator on Feb.14, 2017

THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY: A Love Song of a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator on Feb.14, 2017

When drumming out the red sky edge of tonight -‘ how many times can we win and loose? -How many times we break the rules between us?’ – we feel it unbelievably hard to find our ways to go on. ‘We only get ourselves to blame – It’s such a shame‘ (‘Only Teardrops‘…)

Fiddling with bricks with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® cannot plaster the whole world. But there are fewer and fewer universal development tools that can patch the problems either. This is not only about cross-cultural contexts questioning HR models and diversity training (Rikhof,2017; Dobbin and Kalev, 2016). Training turn only 10-20% effective in the long run, with calculating ROI never an easy work at all (Birdi et al, 2008).

“What’s gone between us? -Has come between us?”

The main HR point –people as the resource/asset to follow organization’s goals,– demands more comments and work when applied to Generation Me (Twenge, 2006).

The other assumption is that when developing people we believe that we DO have the RIGHT map and we CAN manage the territory: our map is complete, up-to-date, and scientifically approved.

But all depends on why:”A map is a political instrument that presents the world according to its maker and each maker uses the map in pursuit of a different interest.” (Roos, 2006: 85).

If the map is to control the territory and the (organization) borders, then it is hardly up-to-date – with technology development, the borders are not there any more, even if we want to build this wall. -Do you still hope to manage something that is endless as our universe?..

If we still believe that the map is scientifically approved, it does not mean it is reliable tomorrow, the new inventions are already on the way. Also Science is not the only way of learning. The smartest learners, children, – learn by play. Yes, adult learners are different, but it does not mean that play should not be taken as serious work -it really matters for grown-ups too. It matters HOW we learn to play, – for example, with excel budgets.

The more changes take place, the more challenges of unexpected and uncertain we face.Therefore the more we hear about the disruption of development maps used before. Calling for other kind of leadership, – built on trust, culture values and ethics, instead of control, managing and manipulating – global mindset and zooming out – are the demand of the day. Learning to collaborate over the big picture, seen as a complex system, will also become more and more the agenda of the day. Agility is also not ‘about IT ‘. It is about the culture of collaboration and inclusiveness that becomes the CORE VALUE we cannot move on without. It is the only key to the effectiveness.

Sounds easy and obvious – but in large scale we do NOT ‘leave the past behind us’. We support Performance Appraisal with AI and BigData combatting workplace bias, still drumming the past. But if we replace paper maps with Google navigation, we still do not move closer to the future, because


It is not the map, but the stubbornly local ethics and the moment, which matters what we do out there with others.

Our problem is that we believe in maps, bringing us to the final point the shortest way.

In real life, how many times you dropped Google navigation on the way? It is the gut (brain) feeling over the instructions that win, simply because ‘ this old scrap is not here any more’. Too tight shoes, hamburger smell, no snow-cleaning, orange sunset, a neighbor unloading firewood and other important things will influence our getting out there, -and we love to be distracted from the straight lines – since we are still human. We prefer ‘our things’ and betray rationality again and again.

We communicate with the world all the time, learning and understanding its meaning in harmony with the play of our imagination, – dropping maps, exploring and giving meanings through metaphors – complicated and connected to the world as Eliot’s poem:

….Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,

And turning toward the window, should say:

That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all”…

Our humanity, our ‘being’, our ethics incorporated in our cultural identity, is INSTANTLY CHANGING – communicating and learning, making is connecting. When it comes to the unexpected, change and ‘becoming’, it is the play again that helps us to learn and adapt, making changes psychologically safe. We need to get honest feedback to make decisions – because we hate to be alone out there on the road, when we discover the difference between the territory and the map…

Links and references

Aston, R. (2016) The Zoom-Out Workshop for collaboration and well-being:

Birdi, K., Clegg, C., Patterson, M., Robinson, A., Stride, C.B., Wall, T.D., and Wood, S.J 2008. The impact of Human Resource and Operational Management Practices on Company Productivity: A longitudinal study. Personnel Psychology, 61(3), 467-501.

Bowman, S. (2017) Global Mindset at

Dobbin, F., Kalev, A. (2016) Why Diversity Programs Fail. Harvard Business Review:

Eliot, T.S. (1915) The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, In: Collected Poems, 1909-1962, Harcourt, 1963.

Gauntlett, D.(2011) Making is Connecting. Polity Press, seethe site.

Holch, G.(2016) The loneliness of leaders:

Hood, M.B.(2016) D-Day: President Eisenhower, Team Building and Psychological Safety”

Marr, B.(2017) The Future of Performance Management: How AI And Big Data Combat Workplace Bias:

Rikhof,R. (2017) “HR transformation” is dead. Long live HR Disruption, how we evolve to next generation HR:

Roos, J.(2006) Thinking from Within: A Hands-on Strategy Practice, Palgrave, Macmillan.

Twenge, J. (2006). Generation Me. New York, NY: Free Press