The Women in Tech Lunch at Mix11 generates action
The first-ever LEGO Serious Play event at the WiT Mix11 luncheon hosted around 100 attendees, both women and men. I co-led the event with LEGO superstar, Thomas Mueller (shown below leading a LEGO Mindstorms event at the Microsoft Store in Mission Viejo, CA).
Thomas graciously lent us over 8,000 bricks from his personal collection for this event. Participants were invited to build models using LEGO bricks to reflect their answers to the statements listed below about the problem of too few women in technology. We used LEGO bricks to stimulate creativity, add fun and increase communication! Thomas and I showed example models that we had built in advance to get the attendees started thinking. For example, for the first question, Thomas built a model which reflected one of his considerations about having too few women in technology. This model, shown below, represents the idea that technology is boring and implied the need for us working in technology to help to change that false perception.
We gave the groups a short time to build, 5 minutes and then asked table leads to get feedback from each participant on his or her model in the next 5 minutes. We had 3 build events around the statements listed below. The goal of this event was to get each participant thinking deeply about the WiT problem and his/her own personal connection so that he or she would commit to doing at least one micro-action within the next 30 days.
1) Describe one aspect of the problem (i.e. too few women in technology)
2) Describe why you are here (i.e. what is motivating you to work on this problem)
3) Describe one area of the solution, as you see it and one action that you can take within the next 30 days to work on this aspect of the problem).
Everyone was eager to build, so they opened the containers and bags of bricks on the tables (shown below) and got started…
It was fantastic to see what people built and even more, to walk around to listen to the conversation. Everyone got into the spirit immediately. Most people seemed proud of their models (shown below) and eager to share…
I loved seeing the creativity and ideas flowing. Here are some of the models…
Another great aspect of this event was the large number of men that chose to participate (around 25%). The guys shown below were having a great time building and sharing…
If you’d like to run your own version of this event, ping me via this blog and we’ll let you know how we set up the LEGO brick bags. In particular, we included a large number of LEGO people. Participants used those pieces very frequently in their models, as shown below…
Special thanks to volunteer Thomas Mueller for making this event happen. He selected the brick types, packed most of the bags himself (over 100 of them!), hand-carried them back and forth to Las Vegas and was his usual great and hugely helpful self. Thomas has been volunteering for YEARS with me at kid’s events. Despite being very busy at his ‘day job’, as a SQL Server DBA, he always makes time for educating people with LEGO bricks. At the end of the event I finally got him to sit down and eat lunch (of course he was the last one!), shown below…
Participants did have fun, while sharing great conversations, while building their particular LEGO models and deciding on micro-actions. Many 'tweeted' out their actions using the #WiT and #Mix11 tags. Below is part of the tweetstream:
Thanks also to the following 'Table Leads' for helping to make the event a success! Thanks as well to Mix11 event lead Jennifer Ritzinger for the invite to host this event.
David Robinson -- Microsoft - SQL Azure PG / Redmond, WA, USA
Jason Ward -- Microsoft - Visual Studio PG / Redmond, WA, USA
Layla Driscoll -- Microsoft - . NET CLR PG / Redmond, WA, USA
Laura Neumann Wyant -- Microsoft - Developer Evangelist / New York City, NY, USA
Guadalupe Casuso -- Microsoft - Architect Evangelist / Argentina
Katrien De Graeve -- Microsoft - Developer Evangelist / Belgium
Olga Londer -- Microsoft - Developer Marketing / UK
William Bartholomew -- Microsoft - Visual Studio PG / Redmond, WA, USA
Tom Lindeman -- Microsoft - Patterns & Practices / Redmond, WA, USA
Gina Johnston -- New Horizons - Adobe Instructor / Anaheim, CA, USA
Llewellyn Falco -- Spun Labs – Developer / Irvine, CA, USA
Raj Das -- Microsoft – Services / Chicago, IL, USA