Why play should be part of your PropTech journey

Arnhem, October 2018. The real estate industry is on a PropTech journey. On the other hand, it’s business as usual. Deal-making. But what if the landscape is changing? New players enter the market, new laws and regulations are implemented and technological developments offer new opportunities? “That’s how we do it for years” cannot keep on forever. How do you stay agile and futureproof?

Last week I wasn’t at Expo Real. So, no blue suits, no sausages, and beer. But LEGO bricks and SERIOUS PLAY. I attend the Global conference for Certified Facilitators LEGO SERIOUS PLAY at Billund (DK.).If you are asking yourself: “Why was Menno, as the founder of PropTechNL, not present at Expo Real?” That’s a good question. I have three major reasons for that:

  • Every day I listen – with great pleasure (!!) – to real estate and PropTech stories and challenges. And in order to add value every single time, I also love to visit other cross-industry conferences, they enrich my perspective;
  • Since 2014 I’m a certified LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator. Facilitating organizations to solve complex problems like strategy and innovation, so there is more participation, more insights surfaced, more engagement, more commitment for the future and faster implementations. And I still love to do facilitate and grow in the development of the use of the methodology;
  • I love to play 😀

Every year I visit the conference and feel energized, inspired and see chances how to facilitate organizations better to solve complex problems and empower them to grow to the next level by play.

Learn by play

In the past period, many ‘strategy sessions’ have taken place to make plans for 2019 (and beyond). These (often standard Post-it) sessions are too short in time, imaginative, energy-absorbing and not very motivating. In addition, these management models and age-old strategic thinking – aimed at the industry and competitive advantage – are very limited and static, despite the dynamic times in which we live.

Strategy determination and implementation with a top-down approach where 20% of management determines 80% of the strategy, fails. The traditional ways of working do not offer everyone the opportunity to express insights and the world is changing faster than the plans can be implemented. In most companies, strategic planning is not about making decisions for the tomorrow and the days after, but about documenting choices that have already been made. The (year) plans are often an update (extrapolation) of last year’s plans, which are often based on old motivation and reward systems instead of doing good things because they are good. Companies in the new economy are rethinking the way they develop their strategy so that they can make more, better and faster decisions.

We all know that playing is not a standard part of real estate culture. Playing in the business context is often dismissed as a warm-up exercise or something you will do after your work with your kids. It is a missed opportunity because. Einstein said: “playing is the highest form of research”. You can imagine a lot when you look at the paper, but there is nothing like experiencing a strategy in real life. If you look closely at the dynamics of play, then you also see its importance. In a dynamic and changing real estate sector, we need to understand the value of play and take steps to promote play in organizations, because playing leads to new insights, engagement, trust, commitment, innovations and improved cooperation.

Bold steps forward

One of the best things about the conference is the huge potential – 175 facilitators form all around the world – in the room. We share insights and learn during the (in)formal talks. This year a diversity of topics like superhero skills, improving teamwork, happiness, strategy, the value of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY, playing or sketching.

Daniele Radici_LSPdays18

Daniele Radici @LSPdays18

For me, the Daniele Radici’s presentation ‘5 Bold Steps Vision®’ was extra very interesting and practical to use. If you want to make positive, forward-looking change in your organization, you have to go beyond writing long-winded visions. It is important to arrive at a common goal and vision and to write down steps on how you will achieve this goal together. The 5 Bold Steps Vision Canvas is a perfect tool for the management team in your organization to work better together.

Daniele shared his use case of the 5 Bold Steps Vision. He worked with two teams. The first team worked in a traditional manner (Post-its, 3 hours, 14 people) and the second team with the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY method (8 hours and 8 people).

The results:

Team 1Team 2
Vision: “we innovate and grow together to become the reference point of technological solutions of the plastic sector. We want to preserve our strengths and the tradition of the company.”Vision: “People, passion, and values that through continuous contamination and technological innovation, turn ideas into solutions.”
Low engagement, 80/20 conversation (80% of the time is filled by 20% of the people),Complete engaged, totally hard-fun and all people involved and a strong commitment
2 hours (of 3) discussing the statement
Strongly rationalized: vision focused on technical stuffVision defined with a shared model and focussed on people and values

The reaction from the entrepreneur:

“The contamination between LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and the 5 Bold Steps Vision® Canvas generates a surprising result. We experienced a powerful way of sharing between different functional levels […] this is the most relevant pillar of the evolution in a business organization.”

Learn, develop and grow

We may not all be entrepreneurs and innovators for the future of real estate and the built environment, but we can all think and act in an entrepreneurial way. Unique human skills, such as judgment, social intelligence, empathy, creativity, and communication, are difficult to codify and therefore to automate. The ability to learn, to learn and to adapt in combination with unique human skills will provide much more resilience and propulsion.

The future of work is learning. Faster learning than your competitor asks for learning in ecosystems. Playing will unleash the potential of humanity in a way that we have never seen before, although it will take some getting used to for some people. Real estate companies can grow to a next level which required a playful strategy to have a successful PropTech journey.

You learn as you play. Most importantly in play, you learn how to learn. So, unleash the PropTech Power within to bring yourself and your organization to the next level. Work hard and PLAY harder.. How seriously do you dare to play it?

“Watch a man at play for an hour and you can learn more about him than in talking to him for a year.” – Plato