SDC Experiences

Lego Serious Play: A Tool for Building Results

August 26, 2019 Carmen Eckert Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Sandra (Large)Although, from the outside, a LEGO SERIOUS PLAY workshop may just look like playing with Lego, its structured process elicits deep thinking, powerful storytelling, authentic collaboration and problem solving of complex challenges that organizations, businesses and communities face.
The few experiences led at SDC proved the efficiency of this process designed to enhance engagement, performance and innovation in large and small organizations.
After organizing a Lunch & Learn Session in June, here we are with a new blog post to invite you all experiencing “to think with the hands”.

Sandra Gentizon, SDC


What is Lego Serious Play?

Lego Serious play is a facilitation method based on the belief that everyone can contribute to the discussion, the decisions, solutions and the outcome.
The use of LEGO bricks simply enables you to take a speedy shortcut to the core. Deep learning and collaboration can more easily be provoked when people build ideas with their hands rather than just talk about them (80% of our neurons are connected with our hands).
The bricks work as a catalyst – and when used for building metaphors, they trigger processes that you were previously unaware of.


When to use Lego Serious Play?

“LEGO SERIOUS PLAY rejects the idea that external ‘experts’ must be brought in to identify problems, and to propose solutions; on the contrary, LEGO SERIOUS PLAY begins with the assumption that the answers are ‘already in the room’, and invites participants to ‘think with their hands’ to build their understandings. Every member of the team participates, and everyone has a voice.”
Thus, when you want to gather the total individual and team brain power to work on complex business issues LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is the method of choice. And it can be used in a wide range of contexts such as:

  • Organizational development
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Building a shared vision
  • Creating an organizational strategy
  • Change management of structural changes and mergers
  • Exploring development of new innovations



The basic sequence of any LEGO Serious Play process consists in three phases:

Phase 1: The Challenge
The facilitator poses the building challenge to the participants.

Phase 2: Building
The participants build a LEGO model representing their reflections on the building challenge.

Phase 3: Sharing
The participants share the meaning and the story that they have assigned to their own models.

This basic ‘building block’ is repeated several times in any LEGO SERIOUS PLAY session.


  1.  100% participation guaranteed
  2. Gives shy people confidence
  3. Fresh perspectives guaranteed
  4. Gets to core beliefs and values
  5. Authentic expression (no lies)
  6. Create a common language
  7. Clarifies complexity
  8. Group alignment guaranteed
  9. Memorable results
  10. Saves time


Ressources and Related Stories

Top ten reason to use Lego Serious Play
LEGO SERIOUS PLAY Open Source Manual
Dare to draw – Use simple drawings to communicate, engage and energize groups

The art of holding space

April 02, 2019 Béatrice Bretton Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.6 out of 5


On 19th February 2019, I led a Lunch n’ Learn at SDC on what it means to ‘hold space’. 17 people joined, intrigued by the title, simply curious or deeply interested in improving their inter-personal communication skills at work and in their personal lives.




Aurélie de Lalande  – Process facilitator

Holding space is about opening a broad space for another person, where he/she can be completely himself/herself and experience the benefit of feeling fully welcome for a moment.

As the space holder, my sole intention is to be fully present to the other person’s experience, and to sit with his/her discomfort, pain, irritation or whatever it is he or she is experiencing at that moment.

As the space holder, I do NOT: have a project over him/her, bring up unasked for solutions, give advice, try and fix anything nor control the outcome. In other words, I will not try to bring the other person where he or she is not. I am simply offering fresh curiosity and presence to a fellow human being sharing his/her experience with me. It is like walking next to someone and holding their hand while quietly listening.


In order to practice holding space for others, just remember to:

1. Check if you are up for it 

We do not always have the capacity, space, availability or willingness to hold space for someone at a particular moment. It is important to recognize it and not try offer what we do not have. Let’s be realistic, and then genuine about it.

2. Create space within yourself

You can for example take 3 conscious deep breaths, visualizing a big warm sun in your belly. Afterwards, gently bring your attention to the person who is coming to you and remind yourself ‘I am going to let her/him be exactly the way she/he is’.

3. Hold space for the other person – and for yourself simultaneously! 

I am mentioning holding space for yourself because sitting with someone’s pain, irritation or any other intense feeling can be very uncomfortable – which is one of the reasons why we usually try to get them out of it!

4. Be gentle towards yourself

Holding space is a practice. We are not used to do this, and it does take courage to show up and sit in the fire and the rawness.

Enjoy practicing offering space to yourself and others!


Ayant vécu les limites des structures de management et de gouvernance ‘à l’ancienne’,  Aurélie se passionne pour l’écologie relationnelle, la collaboration et l’émergence de nouveaux leaderships. Formée à la Communication NonViolente (CNV) et aux outils de la gouvernance partagée, Aurélie facilite des processus de transformation, individuels et collectifs.


To explore further, you may want to check out Heather Plett’s website :

Equal opportunities: working in the SDC as a blind person

January 08, 2019 annavonsury Change Stories, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.2 out of 5

 anna3 (2)Bildschirmfoto 2018-11-13 um 11.59.39Have you ever wondered how it would be to work in the SDC as a blind person? How would you find your office? How would you recognize your colleagues? And how would you read all the papers you receive daily? 


Mawoussi Mauron, SDC and Anna von Sury (more…)

Engage before, during and after – Insights from a series of webinar

August 27, 2018 annavonsury Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

DoinAndrea Iffg a presentation online is as if doing it ‘in real’ or so I thought before having engaged in the organization of several webinars. Well – that is not the case at all. Read through the short list of insights of the DDLG network in order to not make the same mistakes as we did or to achieve the same satisfaction.

 Andrea Iff, SDC



Organising your first webinar? Have a look at our new guideline

July 31, 2018 Blog Admin Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

NadiaquadraticCesar Robles - square - 25 Jan 2018







Are you ready to organise your first webinar? Then get inspired by our new guideline ‘How to organise interactive webinars’. The guideline gives you a step-by step idea how to plan, design and promote your first webinar.

Nadia von Holzen, Learning Moments, Natalie Frei, SDC and Cesar Robles, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation


How to make your readers happy: writing lessons in 5 quotes

March 19, 2018 Natalie Frei Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Christina Stucky P7230789 hoch smallWriting is rarely a pleasurable experience for SDC staffers: how much information is necessary, how to structure a text, and what about jargon? Writing in English has its own particular pitfalls if you’re not a native speaker. A recent writing workshop at SDC in Bern recommended ways to improve the readability of texts produced for internal and external audiences and highlighted mistakes frequently found in texts written by second-language English speakers.

 By Christina Stucky

Clear and Concise Statements

January 03, 2018 Natalie Frei Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

tinuNo one likes listening to the verbose babble of overly loquacious speakers (and yes, this type of speaker tends to be male). Making it short is an art that requires a lot of work. The formula “reduce to the max” might be oversimplified but it is essentially true. There are five steps to arrive at a short, tight but accurate statement.

By Tinu Niederhauser
Translated from German by Natalie Frei



Interviews Part II: Vom guten Fragen & Unterbrechen

November 14, 2017 Natalie Frei Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.4 out of 5


Nach dem Vorgespräch fängt die Arbeit erst richtig an. Wie muss ich fragen, um die gewünschten Antworten zu erhalten? Wie steige ich ein und wie unterbreche ich? Dieser Blog behandelt das Vorgehen beim eigentlichen Interview.

Hansjörg Enz


Interviews Part I: Kein Interview ohne Vorgespräch

November 07, 2017 Natalie Frei Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

IMG_3667Besser ein Videointerview als ein hundertseitiger Bericht. Aber die Aufmerksamkeitsspanne ist auch bei Videos eher kurz, deshalb müssen sie gut geplant und durchdacht sein, damit die Zuschauer nicht wegklicken. Eines der wichtigsten Instrumente für ein gelungenes Interview ist das Vorgespräch.

Hansjörg Enz (more…)

Effective Presentation

April 13, 2017 Natalie Frei Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

quadraticIn the last Lunch & Learn, Yvonne Vogel talked – and sang – tips on how to overcome inner constraints and become a better presenter. Key to any successful presentation is an audience-centered approach, which many people struggle with. However, there are some simple exercises to make it easier.

By Natalie Frei, SDC


Being the facilitator – a visual reflection

February 08, 2017 Blog Admin SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

Jany pictureNadiaThis blog post draws a colorful picture of what it means to be the facilitator. A facilitator has many roles to play before, during and after a workshop or learning event. But what are these roles? And how do we as facilitators see ourselves? During a Lunch & Learn event a group of facilitators reflected these questions in a visual way and uncovered a series of interesting metaphors. 

By Jany Barraut and Nadia von Holzen (more…)

The secret behind interactive webinars that energize and inspire

July 20, 2016 Blog-Admin1 Learning Elsewhere, Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.9 out of 5

NadiaAre you planning to organize webinars? Then do what the Learning & Networking team did: We learned a great deal by observing how others designed their webinars. The webinar series on storytelling organized by Nicole Bittel from the Swiss Distance University of Applied Sciences were interactive and energizing. The secret: Focus on one topic, make it conversational and build in many interactive moments.

By Nadia von Holzen, SDC


Place, people, and the author’s voice: Three key ingredients for storytelling

June 09, 2016 Blog-Admin1 Change Stories, Let's Talk Visual, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

NadiaSoyolmaa, a great storyteller herself, supported three colleagues from the SDC Cooperation Office in Mongolia to create their very first story. These three short stories demonstrate important key ingredients of making stories: People, place and the author’s voice.

Nadia von Holzen, SDC


Joint Learning on Pastoralism – a process of experience capitalization among SDC Programme Officers

March 03, 2016 Leonie Pock Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Manuel Flury SDC Programme Officers of West Africa and the Horn of Africa engaged in a joint learning process on pastoralism. In a series of meetings they collected, synthesized and exchanged experiences in eight key topics of this area. Manuel Flury and Charlotte Nager take a step back and reflect about the added value and the limitations of such an experience capitalization process.

By Manuel Flury, SDC, Addis Ababa and Charlotte Nager, SDC, Berne


Playing the Cupid’s Role: Creating Connections for Collaboration

February 18, 2016 Leonie Pock SDC Experiences, SDC Networks

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Alfonso Team LAlfonso Flores is a networker. He definitely has a networked mindset when he has the idea to connect his Latin America team with the Learning & Networking team based in Switzerland. After having participated in the digital storytelling workshop organized by the Learning & Networking team, his aim is to bring not only the idea of short digital stories back to his colleagues, he also wants to connect them with the Swiss team. To do so he asks the Learning & Networking team members to explain their services in short video statements. And what he shares back to the Swiss team is this blog post.

 Alfonso Flores Bermúdez, SDC Nicaragua (more…)

The power to share, learn and cooperate in networks – el poder de trabajar en red

February 03, 2016 Blog-Admin1 SDC Experiences, SDC Networks

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

MariCarmen AlarconIn 2008 Maria del Carmen Alarcón Lizón started working as communication specialist with the SDC Cooperation Office in Bolivia. Over these years the communication approach within SDC Latin America has evolved from diffusion of information to a more integrative and participatory approach putting communication in the service of programmes and projects. An essential factor in this shift to communication for development (C4D) was sharing and learning among the communication practioners in SDC, for example in the communication network Redcolatina. A manual named “Comunicación para el Desarrollo – Una guía práctica” is the tangible result of this cooperation. 

Maria del Carmen Alarcón Lizón, SDC Bolivia (more…)

Going digital – a new experience of sharing your story

January 20, 2016 Blog-Admin1 Change Stories, Let's Talk Visual, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Thinley ChenzomThinley Chenzom, Social Events Manager at the Swiss Cooperation Office in Bhutan, gained a new experience by creating digital stories. She inspired her team to create digital stories for the annual report. This idea resulted into several 3’ stories.

Thinley Chenzom, SDC Bhutan (more…)

Documenting the process: The long road to a good story

December 23, 2015 Blog-Admin1 Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences, SDC Networks

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Hynek X-masThis post tells the story of documenting a learning process. The initiative to systematize experiences in the area of pastoralism was launched in collaboration with the Agriculture and Food Security network. The Learning & Networking team decided to document exactly this process. Two ‘reporters’, Charlotte Nager and Hynek Bures, joined the workshop in Kenia, where around 20 people gathered to learn from each others’ experiences in the field of pastoralism. While the participants were involved in thematic thinking the two ‘reporters’ added an additional layer of reflection. This challenging endeavor will hopefully inspire future stories about learning.

By Hynek Bures, dubbed perceptions (more…)

Input planned – speaker invited? Go for an interview!

October 14, 2015 Carmen Eckert Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

There are alternatives to the over-used format of PowerPoint presentation followed by Q&A and discussion. Making an interview with the (guest) speaker is an interesting and easy to realize option. All it needs is curiosity and openness from the side of the interviewer and interviewee; and a bit of preparation.

Barbara Affolter, Anne Moulin, Carmen Eckert and Nadia von Holzen, SDC (more…)

Happy blogging: This is blog post number 200!

August 12, 2015 Blog-Admin1 Learning Elsewhere, Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

This is blog post number 200. We – the SDC Learning & Networking Team – is blogging since 5 years. 97 bloggers joined us sharing insights, reflections and questions. We share because we care. We care to make learning visible, to bring new ideas and approaches into the organization, to reach out to our partners and friends. Let’s celebrate!

By Nadia von Holzen the with the great support of our blogging community (more…)

Low budget storytelling – an example

August 05, 2015 Blog-Admin1 Let's Talk Visual, SDC Experiences, SDC Networks

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


In this blog post I want to share my story “The Power of Youth” made during the first digital storytelling workshop in June. I see it as an example on how to produce a story in limited time and with no visual material at hand.




By Carmen Eckert, SDC


Challenged by planning a learning event? Make it easy and visual with ‘Design for Wiser Action’

July 29, 2015 Blog-Admin1 Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

SKU-WSJ-VONNAPlanning and designing a workshop involves many aspects; and often many people too. A visual planning canvas might be the right approach to make the first crucial move. Bring the organizing team, the core group or the mandate giver to the table and do the planning jointly.

By Nadia von Holzen, Mirjam Walser and Kuno Schläfli, SDC


How we produced our first digital stories

July 01, 2015 Blog-Admin1 Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Thank you for voting!

Group Digital Storytelling WSBeginning of June the division Knowledge, Learning and Culture of SDC organized a Digital Storytelling Workshop in Berne. Seven participants produced short videos reflecting their lived-experience of change, learning, success and challenges. This short video explains the production process starting with the story circle on day one and ending with the screening on day three.

By Nadia von Holzen with the support of the participants of the Digital Storytelling Workshop  (more…)

Facilitation Tips for Starters

October 13, 2014 Blog-Admin1 SDC Experiences, SDC Networks

Rating: 4.0 out of 5

facilitation tips for starters_1Corinne is known in SDC for her natural,  humorous and productive ways of moderating events. She started learning to moderate three years ago when she successfully moderated a workshop in Nepal for the elaboration of the Swiss cooperation strategy. In this short video interview she reveals her tricks and learning experiences that she acquired during her career. by Corinne Demenge, SDC


A joint face-to-face is well worth the effort

July 16, 2014 Blog-Admin1 SDC Experiences, SDC Networks

Rating: 4.0 out of 5

 Portrait FMFThe Gender Equality Network as well as the Agriculture and Food Security Network decided to organize their face-to-face (f2f) events in the same week June 2nd to 6th and to have a joint program during three of the five f2f days. The joint days were especially important to demonstrate with practical examples how gender equity in a natural way is always part of any social reality. Felix Fellmann, SDC Agriculture & Food Security Focalpoint