Three Things Lego Can Teach Us about Digital Coaching

As a child, I loved Lego. My Lego was pretty basic, blocks in different sizes and colors, a police car, and a few Lego pot plants. But I learned a lot from Lego, and some of these lessons hold true for digital coaching. So here are three of my greatest Lego lessons.

1. A wall falls over if it isn’t part of a larger structure.

I wanted to build a house, but I wasn’t keen on it being comprised of a mishmash of random colors. So I elected to build each wall in a single color. As the walls got higher, they fell over.

In order for digital coaching to attract stable and sustainable engagement, it has to be embedded in a larger structure. So automated coaching can’t be an afterthought or an ‘add-on’. The full benefit of digital coaching cannot be realized without a shift toward a coaching culture in the organization. The kinds of accepting, non-judgmental relationships that are important in coaching have to be carried over to face-to-face interactions in the organization. Learning should be active and experiential rather than passive and instructive. In such a structure, automated coaching becomes a part of the experience of the organization and can be an interactive, immersive, and inspiring tool. Of course, there won’t necessarily be a pre-existing coaching culture, but the organization needs to be willing to make the changes required to shift toward a more facilitative culture and invest in initiatives to achieve this.

Fortify your digital coaching with a solid foundational structure.

2. When you and your sister have different goals and a finite number of Lego blocks, things can get messy.

When my sister and I wanted to build different things and we had only a certain number of Lego blocks, it created conflict: the Lego had to be divided, and nobody got to build what they wanted.

Digital coaching works when everyone is working toward a common goal. Just as an organizational culture that doesn’t echo the values inherent in coaching will fragment the experience and negatively impact investment in the learning, so too do divergent goals. Whether the coaching focuses on activating behavior change or correct labeling practices, the goals of the learning have to have organization-wide buy-in.

Focus all stakeholders on a common goal.

3. It’s no fun watching someone else play with Lego.

Many years later, as an adult, I got to know a couple with twin boys. One year, they bought their sons Lego for their birthday. I had never seen anything like it, and the children were extremely excited when they unwrapped two Lego sets for building battleships. Their father then built the battleships to avoid any small bits and pieces getting lost, while his bored and disappointed sons looked on.

Digital coaching is not a Matrix-style data download. Often, skills and approaches need to be practiced, and mistakes will be made. That’s okay. Had the children built the Lego battleships themselves, they would have had a sense of accomplishment and been motivated to try new things next time. Had they lost a piece, they would have learned a valuable lesson.

Likewise, allowing learners to practice what they learn helps them to develop confidence in their new knowledge and gives them the space to make mistakes they can learn from. Coaching works because it’s focused entirely on the coachee – they’re at the center of the experience, rather than being an observer.

Put your learner front and center.

So it seems that both Lego and digital coaching need to be part of a broader structure, must service an agreed-upon goal, and support experiential learning to cement the learning.

How could you apply these three Lego lessons in your organization’s automated coaching programs?