Bringing Design Closer with Gerry Scullion

Juan Prego 'Playful Pathways: Nurturing Growth and Learning through Play'

John Carter
September 21, 2023
Listen to this episode on your favorite platform!

Juan Prego 'Playful Pathways: Nurturing Growth and Learning through Play'

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pretium est ipsum dictum lectus mauris netus. Diam sed sit quisque facilisi luctus feugiat.

Episode shownotes

This episode is brought to you by our good friends, MIRO

Join Premium This is HCD and receive access to our back-catalogue of 250+ other episodes, plus access this episode several days earlier

Play. Something we all did as children, but as we grow older, it's less and less common to see, and even more so within the workplace. Play is often seen as the opposite of work.

But what about if your job was to help unlock the potential, and you encourage play to do that in the workplace? Well, earlier this year, Adam Lawrence and Marcos Edgar Hormess, who I've worked with for many years, mentioned to me about a new play kit that they were involved in creating with Playmobil Pro.

And I bought the full pro kit myself out of my own money. So this isn't an advert. I paid for this kit myself. But once I got it, I hit a few stumbling blocks. And I wasn't entirely sure how to weave it into my sessions or my workshops with my clients. Now, Frank, the MD of PlayMobile Pro, who I spoke to earlier in this year on the podcast, was awesome and connected me with today's guest, Juan Prego.

Now, on the topic of play, I've been a big fan of Miro for many, many years. It's the tool of choice for my online workshops. And they've kindly sponsored today's episode. And the sessions and learning experience that I provide for my clients are always fun. And I put this down to the utilizing of Miro's fun features inside their tool.

And I can really curate whatever experience I want to have within my canvases. Now Miro are helping us out. By sponsoring this episode, as I said, so if you want to show some love, why not check out what they've been doing by visiting Miro. com forward slash podcast, or by clicking the link in the description or show notes, depending on where you're listening or watching this episode.

Now, if you are listening, did you know that you can watch this episode on our YouTube channel? People are absolutely loving the fact that they can see the guests chat about things. So be sure to subscribe if you can get a chance and check out our YouTube channel. Back to Juan. He's produced an awesome book, Play Like a Pro, that is due out later this year in 2023 in English.

And I have a copy of it and it's awesome. It's great to hear Juan though in this episode talk about how he recommends weaving methods like Playmobil Pro into his sessions. Is it as simple as just cutting and pasting? And also cover off his thoughts regarding Playmobil Pro versus LEGO Serious Play etc.

There's a debate in the community on which is best. Not much of a debate anyway.

Let's jump straight in.

Episode Transcript

This transcript was created using the awesome, Descript. It may contain minor errors.
Note: This is an affiliate link, where This is HCD make a small commission if you sign up a Descript account.

[00:00:00] Gerry Scullion:

[00:00:16] Gerry Scullion: Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of This is HCD. My name is Gerry Scullion, I'm a service designer, a human centred designer, based in Dublin City, Ireland. Play. Something we all did as children, but as we grow older, it's less and less common to see, and even more so within the workplace. Play is often seen as the opposite of work.

[00:00:39] Gerry Scullion: But what about if your job was to help unlock the potential, and you encourage play to do that in the workplace? Well, earlier this year, Adam Lawrence and Marcos Edgar Jormez, who I've worked with for many years, mentioned to me about a new play kit that they were involved in creating with Playmobil Pro.

[00:00:58] Gerry Scullion: And I bought the full [00:01:00] pro kit myself out of my own money. So this isn't an advert. I paid for this kit myself. But once I got it, I hit a few stumbling blocks. And I wasn't entirely sure how to weave it into my sessions or my workshops with my clients. Now, Frank, the MD of PlayMobile Pro, who I spoke to earlier in this year on the podcast, was awesome and connected me with today's guest, Juan Prego.

[00:01:23] Gerry Scullion: Now, on the topic of play, I've been a big fan of Miro for many, many years. It's the tool of choice for my online workshops. And they've kindly sponsored today's episode. And the sessions and learning experience that I provide for my clients are always fun. And I put this down to the utilizing of Miro's fun features inside their tool.

[00:01:46] Gerry Scullion: And I can really curate whatever experience I want to have within my canvases. Now Miro are helping us out. By sponsoring this episode, as I said, so if you want to show some love, why not check out what they've been doing by visiting [00:02:00] Miro. com forward slash podcast, or by clicking the link in the description or show notes, depending on where you're listening or watching this episode.

[00:02:09] Gerry Scullion: Now, if you are listening, did you know that you can watch this episode on our YouTube channel? People are absolutely loving the fact that they can see the guests chat about things. So be sure to subscribe if you can get a chance and check out our YouTube channel. Back to Juan. He's produced an awesome book, Play Like a Pro, that is due out later this year in 2023 in English.

[00:02:31] Gerry Scullion: And I have a copy of it and it's awesome. It's great to hear Juan though in this episode talk about how he recommends weaving methods like Playmobil Pro into his sessions. Is it as simple as just cutting and pasting? And also cover off his thoughts regarding Playmobil Pro versus LEGO Serious Play etc.

[00:02:52] Gerry Scullion: There's a debate in the community on which is best. Not much of a debate anyway. Let's jump straight in.

[00:02:59] Gerry Scullion: [00:03:00] Juan, I'm delighted to have you in the podcast. Um, we've been catching up and chatting a little bit more about, um, yourself, Tim, Tom and Tam, um, who are also going to get to hear from at the moment, uh, in a few minutes as well, but maybe for our listeners, um, start off, tell us a little bit about yourself and where you're from and what you do.

[00:03:20] Juan Prego: Well, uh, thank you for having me. Uh, it was, it's great to be here. My name is Juan Prego. I'm the founder of a few companies actually to creative creativity certification program. Um, the ideas World Cup and other initiatives. I'm also a writer and a speaker have five published books and. I started my career in engineering.

[00:03:43] Juan Prego: Then I went to advertising and then after many years there, I, I got bored, um, took a year to rethink what I wanted to do because I didn't want to keep selling ads of things that I didn't believe. And then some people [00:04:00] invite me to give. Leadership program because I train people in I live in three countries, Argentina, Spain and China, so they invite me to give a training on how to, how can you manage a multicultural team?

[00:04:14] Juan Prego: So how can you be a leader to manage cultural and multicultural teams? And, uh, I discover the world of training and I've been doing that ever since now with my own companies and my own methods and the things that I believe in.

[00:04:28] Gerry Scullion: Well, there's a lot, there's a lot to unpack there. That's a, that's a compressed amount of information in a very, um, so you've achieved an awful lot in the last, whatever, 25 years, maybe professionally. But today we're going to be focusing on a little bit more around the work that you're doing with Playmobil Pro and Playmobil generally, I guess.

[00:04:49] Gerry Scullion: Um, and when I was speaking to Frank a number of months ago on the podcast, your name come up and I explained to Frank, whenever I, I. Got the pro kit and it [00:05:00] arrived. It was great. And I was like, okay, now I'm starting to think about how I can weave this into my training, into my in person training and even sometimes online training as well. And he said, Oh, well, there's this Juan Prego, uh, Juan Prego is working on a book, uh, called pro play. And I don't think it's out, but you should try and email him. Here we are now and I've, I've got the book, I got it digitally and I printed it out and I reference it, um, it's not, not, I guess it's not the kind of book you read on a sunny beach in Lanzarote, but it's a book that, um, I'm hoping to, to get in the physical form.

[00:05:36] Gerry Scullion: So when is this book going to be coming out?

[00:05:39] Juan Prego: Well, the book is already in Spanish, uh, and we hope that by the end of the year it will be actually in Spanish. It goes by its third edition. Um, yes. And I hope that by the end of the year we have the English version printed.

[00:05:54] Gerry Scullion: Okay. So, in the book, you talk a little bit around, uh, the principles, [00:06:00] the principles of play. I'd love to talk to you a little bit more around that. So, for people who bring you in to the organization and they're, you tell them you're going to be focusing on the principles of play, how do you describe it to them?

[00:06:14] Gerry Scullion: Okay.

[00:06:15] Juan Prego: Well, um, to, to give a little bit of history of how, uh, the book was born, the book was born about, uh, uh, from the method, uh, which is called the pro play method. And when Playmobil launched the, uh, Playmobil pro kit in 2019, I have exactly the same thought that you had like, well, what do you do with it? Um, we have been experimenting with a lot of.

[00:06:42] Juan Prego: Uh, techniques, uh, for many years with different kind of toys and we say, well, I think we can have a compilation of techniques that we can apply with play mobile pro because we created the creativity certification program, which is a program that certified more than 5, 000 people all over the world on different [00:07:00] techniques and they start asking us, what can you do with this?

[00:07:03] Juan Prego: You know, I seen the pictures, what can we do? So we compile a set of techniques, but before we put it out there, We say let's try them out with professionals. Let's call people from industry coaches, design thinkers. Um, well, let's bring innovation managers, human resources, managers, CEOs, and let's try our techniques.

[00:07:24] Juan Prego: And the interesting thing was that when they started using the different techniques that we generated. they got really deep insights. Some of them said, well, I've been struggling with this problem for years and I solved it in 15 minutes. Um, some of them started crying in a 15 minute, you know, funny exercise that we created.

[00:07:47] Juan Prego: So we started to realize that we had something more powerful than we thought in our hands. And that's when we started to work, okay, this is more than just a set of techniques. This is a process. This is a method. What is going on? We [00:08:00] unpack our own techniques and said, what is going on in this process and why is it so powerful and how can we amplify this?

[00:08:08] Juan Prego: And that is where the pro play method was created that has the training and the book as part of the materials that we have out there to, to help people know how to make the most of the play mobile pro kit.

[00:08:20] Gerry Scullion: Okay, so when you talk about a process, maybe drill into that a little bit more. Let's talk about, um, the process of how you introduce it into the workshop and what that process looks like.

[00:08:33] Juan Prego: Yeah. Well, the first thing that, uh, we need to understand is that everybody knows how to play. Nobody has to be taught how to play. You know, we are all, we all, we all play when we were kids. The thing is that once we get older, we change the way we play. When we are kids, we play to discover, we play to connect, we play to have fun.

[00:08:56] Juan Prego: We play to learn, uh, we play to experiment. [00:09:00] And as we grew older, um, we start to play just to win. We, we changed these exploratory kind of playing to competitive play. And we take that into our businesses. So when we talk about play and gamification, people think about our badges, who's going to win is the competition is.

[00:09:21] Juan Prego: And we forgot that. During our infancy, we discover the world and we discover our relationships and those around them, around us, through play. What is the first thing that a kid says to a kid that, that they don't know? Do you want to play? Or, can I play? And we lose. That as we go older. So when you introduce play into a session, um, you introduce it through playing the best introduction is less.

[00:09:52] Juan Prego: And it's the first step of the process is let's start playing. So I'm not going to explain to you. about play. Let's [00:10:00] play and then let's unpack. So let's start playing. It's our motto and the first step of the process. And because once you start playing, you understand, um, intrinsically the value that has what you just did instead of me trying to just go over.

[00:10:17] Juan Prego: 10 slides explaining why playing is good.

[00:10:20] Gerry Scullion: so let's talk about why people stop playing. At what point are you seeing that shift? And what ages are you seeing that? You mightn't have that information at hand, but when does a child deviate from playing to experiment and playing to learn into playing to win? Do you have any information on that?

[00:10:42] Juan Prego: Yes. Yes. Uh, this, the changes, and it also goes along with some changes in the, in the way that the brain works, but it's more, mostly has to do with education. So at around seven years. When you start to think on serious stuff at school, et [00:11:00] cetera, et cetera, and you start to think about grades and your results and things like that, then you, your, your brain switches from, uh, let's play explore and learn to let's get, let's get to this goal.

[00:11:13] Juan Prego: Let's get to this grade. Let's get to this objective. And these changes, uh, finalized for around 14 years, you are.

[00:11:22] Juan Prego: fully competitive, and then the no, the, the no point, the point of no return is around 17, then that you're, you're only competitive, or so you have different stages where you play less and less. Uh, so let's say a 12 year old still is able to put a cape and play pretend, but let's try to do that with the 17 year old.

[00:11:43] Juan Prego: It's way harder.

[00:11:44] Gerry Scullion: It's funny because in the research for the Makers and Doers school, when I was researching with children, I identified it as around six years old. So I'm not too far off. What seems to be an issue is children self identify as being [00:12:00] good at art or good at drawing or good at these things. And then they ended up...

[00:12:05] Gerry Scullion: being much more likely to receive praise and continue to experiment and learn and draw. I'm holding a pen here in my hand for anyone listening on the podcast. Um, and one of my goals with the Makers and Doers School is to try and reiterate the importance of play and also then not just have be the only constraint as being good at art.

[00:12:26] Gerry Scullion: good at drawing, good at craft. It's much more than that. So, can I ask, what happens if a child stops playing? Like, is it good that they shifted? Or is it bad, do you think? Or can it be answered in binary terms that they move from winning to get versus winning to play?

[00:12:48] Juan Prego: Well, I think that it's a natural. You know, a continuation of the exploration that will happen in some kids happen earlier because of a [00:13:00] scholarization and the pressure off of their peers in some kids on some types of schools that happens later. Um, so I think it's a normal part, but what I think is. That we have created, um, uh, society and a type of education that focused only on that.

[00:13:21] Juan Prego: So, um, and you see how much fun is, for example, if you want to learn chemistry or physics, if you learn it through experiments, that if you learn it through just memorization and a test where you achieve certain points. So experimentation is still our preferred way to learn. And if you go a little bit further and you go into the scientific realm.

[00:13:43] Juan Prego: That's all they do. They they do experiments and they play and they uncover and sometimes they don't know exactly what is going on. Um, and they don't have a clear goal. And some of the most remarkable scientific discoveries came [00:14:00] from scientists with no goal, just experimenting with stuff. Um, so when we start experimenting, we start learning.

[00:14:08] Juan Prego: We stopped learning. So our growth Um, because we can have a lot of knowledge, but that, um, doesn't mean that we have a lot of new skills or that we do new things. Um, so this time we see 300 videos and then we, think we are experts at something, uh, but then we don't have the hands on experience to back that up because we haven't experimented.

[00:14:36] Juan Prego: So when we start experimenting, we start playing, we start growing basically.

[00:14:41] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, it's, it's the difference between playing to learn and playing to know, really. Um, you can learn a lot of the material, but actually the applying of the doing is where the knowing comes in. In my experience, when you, you mentioned there about a child or a teenager being [00:15:00] 14 or 17 years old and they're kind of fully formed.

[00:15:02] Gerry Scullion: Um, They, they haven't been playing, they've been playing to get versus playing to learn. I love that definition of playing to get, because there's something happening. There's an exchange. But, um, when you introduce, say somebody who's an adult in a workshop to play, what are the barriers that they're facing and why, if you walk out in a cape into a workshop, what's happening?

[00:15:29] Gerry Scullion: Hey, sorry for interrupting the episode, but I wanted to tell you about today's sponsor, Miro. Many people connect it to just being another business collaboration tool, but for me it's so much more. I use it to manage my own Ikigai, to help me keep track of my own life and career. This one here that you can see won't get shared to anyone else, so it's a private board.

[00:15:51] Gerry Scullion: Only I can see it. Now, the beauty of all this is I didn't need to create these canvases from scratch. People on the Miroverse upload them [00:16:00] and there's a constant stream of updated frameworks there for all us change makers all around the world to use for free. Many of which come with really detailed instructions on how to use them.

[00:16:12] Gerry Scullion: So for more information see www. miro. com forward slash podcast where you can get three free canvases for free for life. Let's get back into that episode.

[00:16:23] Juan Prego: Well, the, the, the main, uh, barrier that people have is their own ego, is their self awareness of how silly it is that they are, you know, this old and plain. Um, the second fear is a social fear. What are going to, what are my peers or my boss going to think about this? And the third one is just a result driven pressure.

[00:16:49] Juan Prego: Am I going to get something useful out of this? Are we wasting our time? Why are we doing it like this? So there is more than just one, uh, reaction to play. [00:17:00] But the reason why the first Step of our processes start playing is because all that fades away the moment you start playing all that is in your mind and it's your internal dialogue just stopping you and thinking, Oh, no, this is whatever.

[00:17:16] Juan Prego: And what are these people are going to think? And then you start playing and then you start smiling and then you start uncovering things and then you get two ideas that you haven't get before. And then you say, Oh, This is, this is actually very interesting and very useful. So, the, in order to go through all that, If you can start playing, that's great.

[00:17:37] Juan Prego: But sometimes, you know, you have to convince people to start playing before they start and mostly the people that will hire you, not the people that already you have in the room, because that's easier. You get them to start planning and then works. But what about the gatekeepers, right? Are you going to have our, for example, I have board of directors of pharma companies, you know, designing their, their [00:18:00] three year strategy in the mountain in a resort.

[00:18:03] Juan Prego: And I have been two days playing with Playmobil. So I had to do a lot of convincing before we got to that point, to different people that were saying like, but why Purple A and why we play mobile? And, and, you know, and what are you going to do? And why, why don't you use the traditional stuff, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:18:21] Juan Prego: Um,

[00:18:22] Gerry Scullion: But what's happening there? Like, so two days of play in a, in a Swiss mountain resort with high paid executives who, who are used to reading, um, large, um, bound reports, um, what's the justification? And I, I I know that was probably an off the cuff, um, two day kind of estimation. Why I think that would be valuable, but I'm keen to understand how you would actually talk about that to, to the gatekeepers about

[00:18:54] Juan Prego: Mm hmm.

[00:18:55] Gerry Scullion: this, this is going to be beneficial.

[00:18:58] Juan Prego: Well, it has a lot of [00:19:00] aspects that are very, very powerful. Um, in this particular project, for example, that we were working, one of the key concerns. was that due to a lot of remote work that had been done during the last years, there was a lack of connection between the people that were on the board of directors.

[00:19:19] Juan Prego: And that led to a lack of alignment on the results, on the goals, on the way of working. Um, so how do you go about? Generating connection among people and generating alignment around people that haven't seen each other maybe for two years and in the middle you have changes in the board and then you have some people that never sit down together in a room and then now they are going to be sit down together in a room, but the The, the CEO of the company is going to be there, which is a very imposing figure and you want to generate connection at the same time.

[00:19:56] Juan Prego: So how do you go about, so you have most of these [00:20:00] sessions don't have the single goal, like, okay, use Playmobil and generate an idea for these, but they have complex. Problems that they need to tackle. They need to tackle connection. They need to tackle alignment. They need to tackle actually creating a strategy and tackling all these at the same time.

[00:20:17] Juan Prego: There are very few tools that can work at the same time with that. What you would normally do is, well, you do an activity for connection and then you do an activity for alignment and then you do an activity to think on the strategy and you use. Wide range of different activities in order to solve these middle goals that you have.

[00:20:37] Juan Prego: Um, but you can do all that with pro play and play mobile pro, um, you generate connection when people start playing, uh, they start playing and. They immediately get into a song where the defenses are low. So they start to share more than they shared before. Some people in the last training I gave in Germany, one person [00:21:00] said, I've been working with my colleagues for 20 years.

[00:21:03] Juan Prego: And this is the first time that I think that I really got to know them. Um, so, so you go through that, that barrier. And then in the matter of alignment, when you have a model on top of the table, uh, it's way easier to see where you and I align. That if we just talking and talking and talking words are invisible and then I said my my words and then you imagine something and you're imagining a hotel and you're imagining the faces of the board members and the faces of the CEO and and that's all you in your imagination.

[00:21:38] Juan Prego: So right now there is a misalignment between. My image of the board because I've been there and your image on I'm 100 percent sure that there is a big level of alignment, but there are some things are way off. So this happens in any team. But once you create this model and you put it on top of the table, I can see your mental model in top of the thing.

[00:21:59] Juan Prego: [00:22:00] Think it as a as a 3D printer for your mental model. This is how I call pro play. So yeah, And now I see it and I can see where we are misaligned. I can share my model and then we can come up to a joint vision of how this is working or should work. So you are achieving already three goals just with one application.

[00:22:23] Juan Prego: And then you reproduce these with four, five, six applications that you do in two days. And then you have a lot of goals that you achieve with just one technique. And most of the sessions that we do are short ones, are not two day ones, are just two hour ones or four hour ones. But when we have the luxury of working two days with the team, then magical things happen.

[00:22:47] Juan Prego: And in this particular session, at the end of the first day, the CEO come and said, we already met all the goals that I had. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but this already surpassed my [00:23:00] expectations. Yes.

[00:23:01] Gerry Scullion: funny. Um, I totally, um, see the value when you're speaking about it because recently, like just before I went to my holidays there two weeks ago, I was training a bank, um, and it was the bank's design team and they. They were pretty close, um, they, they knew each other, but we just did a simple exercise, a 40 minute exercise, where I lay the Playmobil out on the table, and I was like, look, build a reflection of yourself, what's important to you.

[00:23:29] Gerry Scullion: And obviously, there's a certain amount of restriction on the props, so if people are, are reaching for the wizards, uh, shining, uh, kind of, you know, the little figurine in the Playmobil kit, and people are, I want that, I want that, and so he can have it after he presents, and so forth. But there was a lot of people there, um, learning new things about their team that they've been working together for a couple of years and they're like, Oh, I didn't know you did that.

[00:23:55] Gerry Scullion: I didn't know you had that and I was like, isn't that really, really powerful [00:24:00] how in 40 minutes the, the externalization of their, their own reality allowed us to get closer to that person and, um, it, it kind of D, um, what's the word, basically it allowed them to focus on this thing that was, they were holding in their hands versus talking about themselves.

[00:24:20] Gerry Scullion: And that's the bit that I really want to, um, learn a little bit more about. Why do you think. That, that thinking is, is more powerful. What is it about us holding something in our hands that is reflective of us? Why is it easier for the person to talk about that thing versus themselves? What are your thoughts on that?

[00:24:43] Juan Prego: Well, um, in the, in the course that we have, we teach eight core principles that can be combined to design different applications. So it's not that you learn this and then you repeat it. We teach different principles that are [00:25:00] what I call the ingredients. And then we have the recipes that are recipes that we already give you to plug and play.

[00:25:06] Juan Prego: But the main thing that we do before that is we explain. Why all these things work and then we have different Theories that make this happen in this particular point of having something in your hand Um, one of the things that I think is the most powerful is that you generate something that psychologists have been trying to generate, and Buddhists have been trying to generate, uh, and yoga has been trying to generate, that is, you immediately generate an observer.

[00:25:46] Juan Prego: So you always have this in philosophy where you have The observer, um, that is separated from the self. And when you generate that, you can observe yourself in action from a, from a completely different [00:26:00] perspective. Um, and so when you create a model of yourself, you are inadvertently generating an observer, a third person observer.

[00:26:09] Juan Prego: And that is The key to the proper method working is that third person, where if you're seeing a football match in the TV, you know exactly what needs to be done and who needs to be changed because you're outside the match, but when you're in the field, it's impossible to make the best decision. That's why you need somebody outside.

[00:26:27] Juan Prego: So this is the same with our own. experience. You know, we experienced things in first person. So when you, when we switch to third person, silently things become very clear. I call this your mental mind mirror. When you are going to go out, from your home. And, uh, you're you want to look good for an interview or a job or a training.

[00:26:54] Juan Prego: Then you look in your mirror and you see, okay, I'm a line. I'm pretty. I can go out. Um, but [00:27:00] what do you do? How do you do the same for your mental models or your thoughts or your beliefs or your values or your goals or your attitudes or your behaviors or your skills? But you can do that with the model is mirror to all those internal things that you couldn't see and it helps you improve them.

[00:27:17] Juan Prego: And it's so powerful to see them outside you, but at the same time know that that is inside you. So the third person plane allows you to Separate the observer from the self so you can be much more objective because the level of emotion also it's lower. So the reactions that you have, the resistance that you have is lower because it's not talking about use, talking about this thing that is separated from you.

[00:27:46] Juan Prego: So if you leave the, if you read the Buddhist philosophy or you go to psychologist, that's. A lot of the work that I'm trying to do is help you generate this observer.

[00:27:55] Gerry Scullion: yeah, absolutely. The other self looking inwards. [00:28:00] Um, what, what do you think, um, what's your approach, should I say, when you're working in an organization or working with an organization, you present the pro, the, the pro kit, and you have somebody in the room of influence who is resistant to, to exposing the self to play?

[00:28:20] Juan Prego: Mm hmm.

[00:28:21] Gerry Scullion: What are the methods that you do? And hopefully you're not going to talk about beating them up or um, you know, sedating them.

[00:28:28] Juan Prego: No. Um,

[00:28:32] Gerry Scullion: are a joke by the way. I would never, never sedate them.

[00:28:37] Juan Prego: Um, I'm a very practical and result oriented person, despite what it may appear for my speech. So I let the results. speak by themselves. So I don't need to convince you to play. If there are more people playing the room, you will see what they achieve. And this will help you, um, [00:29:00] understand the value of the method that we're using.

[00:29:02] Juan Prego: So I don't go around convincing or forcing people to play. Um, And one of the things that I explain on my trainings is that I renegade this idea of, well, everybody should talk the same amount of time and everybody should participate in the same. A way and everybody should give three ideas and everybody should listen to everybody and we are all different and we all play in different ways and when you look at kids, you have a kid that is building the sword and screaming and giving directions and then you have another kid that is sitting in the corner and it's looking and if you say, oh, that kid is not included, et cetera, and you go ask that kid said, no, no, I'm the gatekeeper.

[00:29:46] Juan Prego: I sit here and I keep the gate and that is my role and that is what I want to. Thank you. Play. I don't need to be there, you know, streaming orders. That's not how I like to play the same way. When you generate a play session and [00:30:00] you're going to play with play mobiles, you will be foolish to think that or expect that everybody will play the same way and should share the same amount of time and should talk the same amount because everybody plays differently, but they are all adding value and contributing to the conversation.

[00:30:17] Juan Prego: So that person that is not playing. It's also adding to the value of the session because for the rest of the participants, they also see what happens when somebody is not playing what happens with that person that is not joining the rest of the group. And that person starts to understand what the group dynamic is.

[00:30:34] Juan Prego: Um, so For me, it's, it's not about forcing people to play or convincing people to play. It's just an invitation to achieve results using a different method. So you have been using excels, you have been using post its. Well, this is a new method, new tool. Instead of the post its, you have... The play Mobile Pros and instead of the brainstorming, you have the properly method.

[00:30:58] Juan Prego: So you learn, you use new [00:31:00] tools, don't use the same methods that you use. Learn new ways of working, learn new methods. This is a new method, so I think that actions speak louder than words. So when people is reluctant on the group, normally they end up joining because they see the value of what is happening and they end up joining the the, the process.

[00:31:19] Gerry Scullion: So if, if we were to talk about different Zoom levels, so like within an organization like flight levels, if the problem is too macular and it's too focused and it's too zoomed in, do you still feel that pro play and Playmobile pro, uh, can be used? Because in my experience, if the Zoom level is too low, they become too, too sort of restricted.

[00:31:43] Gerry Scullion: I'd love to get your understanding about the framing, uh, and, and setting up. Um, And making sure that the, you're approaching it at the right level.

[00:31:53] Juan Prego: well, we have three levels in our training level one, two and three. [00:32:00] Um, level one is mostly for one on one sessions and it's for very practical issues. So level one can tackle a lot of, um, in goals that are for other techniques to narrow. Uh, but with level one, you can go to very narrow topics and then solve them and move on.

[00:32:23] Juan Prego: On level two, you do group dynamics, and on level three you do complex problems. So if you will want to use a complex problem technique, but you encounter a very narrow goal, then it will be a mismatch. And I see that happens sometimes with facilitator. They gave me this goal and I tried to do this and didn't work well because you have to understand what the scope of the goal or the problem you're trying to solve is, and you have to adjust.

[00:32:53] Juan Prego: The, the application that you are designing or using, um, to the scope. So [00:33:00] for big scope, complex problems, we have a set of. Principles and facilitation and design, uh, methods, um, and for very narrow themes, we have everything on level one that can tackle those problems that, uh, sometimes it's almost like making a decision.

[00:33:19] Juan Prego: There's not much room to explore a bunch of options. Mm

[00:33:24] Gerry Scullion: I love that. I want to ask you a question, um, about, and it's one of the most common questions that I get when I bring the Playmobil.

[00:33:32] Juan Prego: hmm.

[00:33:33] Gerry Scullion: They kind of go, oh, it's, it's like, uh, you know, serious play Lego, and, um, right, sort of.

[00:33:39] Juan Prego: Mm hmm.

[00:33:40] Gerry Scullion: I know my reasons why I decided Playmobil Pro. What was your reasons with, with Playmobil Pro?

[00:33:46] Gerry Scullion: And like in my experience, by the way, they're both awesome. Okay, we're not like picking, it's like Roger Federer and Nadal. They're both awesome tennis players. Okay, um, but I want to get your understanding about [00:34:00] why you leaned so heavily into Playmobil Pro.

[00:34:03] Juan Prego: Well, I love Lego and I've been using Lego many years,

[00:34:07] Gerry Scullion: Oh yeah,

[00:34:08] Juan Prego: but to be honest, I never used Lego series play in a business setting, uh, because I felt that it didn't match my style of facilitating or the problems that I was trying to tackle. But I always use Lego. I just didn't use The method that was behind it.

[00:34:26] Juan Prego: Um, I tend to do very short applications, very result oriented where, you know, an action plan needed at the end. Um, and I felt that didn't fit my needs, my particular needs. So when Playmobil launched the Playmobil Pro Kit, which we can now say probably that we're the only official partner of Playmobil Pro around the world.

[00:34:49] Juan Prego: Um, I saw the chance to do everything that I was missing. Um, in those other processes, everything that I wanted to do that couldn't be done [00:35:00] because the method didn't allow it or, or, you know, it requires some certain steps or, or whatever. Um, so, um, I think that it's. Completely different, a completely different way of playing.

[00:35:13] Juan Prego: And one of the things that I did before launching it, I tested with legacy display people that, you know, love legacy display, have been using it for years, et cetera, et cetera. And they all say, well, this is different. This adds different level of applications that we can do. This is not the same. Um, so. So I think that, uh, there are a lot of differences in the method and in the tools.

[00:35:38] Juan Prego: Uh, for example, in the tools, the characters are way bigger and customizable. You can write on them. So that allows. Completely new range of things that you can do just playing with the characters on the other way. Everything is pre made. So instead of spending time building, you [00:36:00] know, an axe with different blogs to hear you grab an axe.

[00:36:03] Juan Prego: So building, you know, building an axe or building a hat, maybe took you. minutes. And then here you take it in one second and then you have to build another thing. It took you another 50 minutes and here you grab it in a second. I'm not saying that it's not valuable to build your stuff. I'm just comparing, you know, um, uh, differences on the timing of the exercises.

[00:36:23] Juan Prego: Um, and the most interesting part for me is that when you grab a hat or you grab an ax or you grab a gold, it's not that you're grabbing something where the meaning is close. The fabulous thing about Play model is you have 480 different elements in the professional kit,

[00:36:44] Gerry Scullion: yeah.

[00:36:44] Juan Prego: and then you grab one element, and I ask you what does this element means for you, and then you give an answer, and then I ask the person next to you and gives another one, and then I ask you the second in a second application, and it means something different.

[00:36:59] Juan Prego: So you have [00:37:00] 480 elements, You have all the combinations

[00:37:04] Gerry Scullion: Yeah,

[00:37:04] Juan Prego: between those elements, and then you have the different meanings that you can attach to the, uh, and different points. So it's almost infinite, and it gives you immediate, quick access to it. Um, so the focus is not on building and what you have built, it's on playing.

[00:37:22] Juan Prego: So the focus on ProPlay is in interaction. So one of the things I say, if you build something and then you talk about it and then you do nothing. When do you play? You know, because I see what my kids do with their Lego models. They love the Lego models. They build it and they don't want to touch it because, you know, they spend so much time building it that they don't want to touch it.

[00:37:42] Juan Prego: So I wanted to create a process that was opposite to that. Um, what I say to my students is, if you don't do something once you create the model, then you're not playing. You're just modeling. Um, So I call this interactive on I call this life models. So once, and this is the step three. [00:38:00] Once we, um, do the initial model instructions and we create a model, then we have playing instructions.

[00:38:08] Juan Prego: It's very, um, uh, ephemeris is the, the, the, what, what I want to say is when you play, you get to an insight and the important is not the model that you have on the table. It's not talking about, you know, what you did is the insight that you got from that movement that you made from that plane that you did.

[00:38:29] Juan Prego: So has so many differences that we could do an entire podcast just on the differences

[00:38:34] Gerry Scullion: I'm sure,

[00:38:35] Juan Prego: method has.

[00:38:36] Gerry Scullion: I'm sure. Do you think we've time to, um, or do you, do you have time to talk about some methods that you use very regularly that maybe people listening could say, actually, you know what, I want to have a look about what this is and we're going to put this one up on YouTube. It's a video based podcast as well.

[00:38:57] Gerry Scullion: So we've, I've got my Playmobil [00:39:00] Pro kit here. I know you've got some serious Uh, pro, uh, play stuff behind you. Are you okay to talk about a, a method like the externalization of the self is one that, uh, I use all the time, but maybe for people listening, there might be one that you can say, well, here's another one that you could use.

[00:39:18] Juan Prego: Yes, of course, that, um, there are so many, and one of the things that we explain when we teach pro play is everything starts with the purpose. So if you understand what the purpose is of that session of that application, then you can use the principles to design the following actions. So. We have different applications and techniques and methods for different purposes.

[00:39:45] Juan Prego: So it's not the same. If you want to improve your relationships with your coworker, that if you want to design your career path, that if you want to negotiate a better salary, that if you want to improve a process in the company, [00:40:00] that if you want to get to an innovation, so everything that you That that you're going to do is based first on understanding what the purpose is, because we don't have one application fits all, whatever is your purpose, then you do this.

[00:40:13] Juan Prego: No, if this is your purpose, then we have a set of things. If this is your purpose, then we have a different set of things, et cetera, et cetera. So, so the first thing is, what is the purpose?

[00:40:24] Gerry Scullion: So I guess if we were to introduce people to, um, Playmobil Pro and you're entering a workshop and you're introducing them to play and you said, okay, we want Um, Introducing you to, to play. So we'll have to have some restrictions around what, what their goals is. It could be about learning about your, um, your peer.

[00:40:47] Gerry Scullion: So, is, is, do you have a method that might be suitable for that?

[00:40:51] Juan Prego: Well, it's the basic introduction technique that we use that is a great, uh, if you have the kit and you probably have done some [00:41:00] version of these at the beginning of your training is, um, you get into training and you ask people to personalize character. We call them characters. We created an entire language on how to call things so we can understand each other because.

[00:41:15] Juan Prego: Many people call these different things. And then how can we understand each other if we all use different words for the same things? Right? So we created an entire vocabulary of how to refer. So we call these characters. So, uh, it's a figure when it's in the box, and then when you take it out, it's a character because it has a personality, it's a personalization, it represents someone, right?

[00:41:36] Juan Prego: So you pick up a character and then you personalize it. And then, for example, an exercise that I love to do, uh, when I start a training is you pick three elements. that are very significant for you or the represent very significant things for you in your personal life. Then you pick another three elements that represent very important things for you in your professional life.[00:42:00]

[00:42:00] Juan Prego: Um, and then you, I love to add a seventh element that represents your purpose in this training. And it's very interesting the process that goes by. When you grab an element and you know what it represents for you, we say this is personal or professional. Is there a boundary with this or do I just have this?

[00:42:21] Juan Prego: So a lot of deep thought arrives from a very simple exercise. Just pick three items. And then when you start talking about the item, let's say I, I, I grab this, uh, flame, right? So I grab this flame. because I believe a very important thing for my work is passion. Um, because I believe if you don't are not passionate about what you're doing, then why are you doing it at all?

[00:42:44] Juan Prego: So compare that with an introduction where just Juan, please introduce yourself. Well, I'm a trainer of blah, blah, blah. And I come from engineering and blah, blah, blah, and advertising. And you know nothing about me. You just know my CV. And then you asked me to pick an element. And suddenly I'm talking about how passion is so important [00:43:00] in my life.

[00:43:00] Juan Prego: Something I would never. would have talk if not for this element. So you cut through the cognitive barriers that your consciousness have and you go into a connection in directly to the unconscious content that is Is normally blocked?

[00:43:19] Gerry Scullion: We, we could definitely speak for, um, hours on an awful lot of these things. So hopefully the book will be out later on this year as we're, as we're saying. If people want to get in touch with you, um, well, what's the best way for people to connect with you? One

[00:43:37] Juan Prego: Yes. So, of course I have LinkedIn and other networks. Um, I, I've been putting lately some YouTube videos as well as per request for my community since the pandemic. Um, the, the first, the first place to note, proplaymethod is proplaymethod. com and there you have more info and videos and resources. Also, [00:44:00] also they can visit the creativity certification program to see what we do at future dates, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:44:06] Juan Prego: Um, and the, the proplaymethod book in English, um, there is a draft version is downloadable in digital, but I recommend to Wait for the printed version. I think I have a print. I have printed versions here, and it's just such a different experience. It's a

[00:44:23] Gerry Scullion: Yeah. Would be

[00:44:24] Juan Prego: Yeah, it's a it's a book meant to be read. I printed and we put so much effort on even choosing the kind of paper, um, that it changes the experience.

[00:44:34] Juan Prego: And so It'll link it in the Instagram, Twitter, you know, whatever they do for Juan Prego, they will find me. I have other four books published besides play like a pro, which is the pro play method. So they can also search for that. So I'm easy to find. They just

[00:44:48] Gerry Scullion: Yeah. You're right.

[00:44:49] Juan Prego: Prego on Google.

[00:44:51] Gerry Scullion: It sounds, it sounds like a Hollywood actor's name. Like, you know,

[00:44:54] Juan Prego: Thank you.

[00:44:55] Gerry Scullion: The latest movie with Juan Prego talking about Playmobil. Um, Juan, [00:45:00] listen, thank you so much for giving me your time today. It was really, really enjoyable. And, you know, we'd love to have you back in the podcast. And maybe when the book comes out, and I'm sure you'll have more insights by that stage, when the book comes out, you'll be getting a lot more feedback, even though it's been in Spanish for a couple of weeks.

[00:45:13] Gerry Scullion: Years already. Um, hopefully, uh, the book is a massive success. I'll link to all of those things you just mentioned in the show notes. People check out, uh, Juan Brego's work. It's awesome. And obviously if you want to check out and learn more about Playmobil Pro, we'll put a link to Playmobil Pro into the show notes as well.

[00:45:31] Gerry Scullion: Juan, thank you so much.

[00:45:33] Juan Prego: There it is. Thank you so much for the invitation. And for whoever is looking or listening to this, why not start playing today?

[00:45:42] ​

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ipsum blandit at sed a, vulputate eget. Integer in egestas rutrum risus tortor. Augue sed ac magna semper vitae, orci morbi auctor. Diam dui ut ut purus aenean volutpat.

Courses for change-makers.

We provide remote, flexible training options to help you grow your design and innovation capabilities. We also offer bespoke training programmes for teams and organisations on any of our courses.

View all courses
Exploring the Value of Design Coaching
Video Course
Exploring the Value of Design Coaching
This course is designed to provide individuals and businesses with a comprehensive understanding of the benefits and impact of design coaching programs. Whether you are a designer seeking to enhance your skills or a business owner looking to leverage the power of design, this course...
Gerry Scullion
Gerry Scullion
Getting Started in Service Design
Video Course
Getting Started in Service Design
Looking to learn about what is involved in getting started in the world of Service Design? Look no further, a free video-based course to help introduce you to the world of service design.
Gerry Scullion
Gerry Scullion
Journey to Service Design Mastery
Video Course
Journey to Service Design Mastery
This course will cover the fundamentals of human-centered service design whilst leaning into Journey Mapping.
Gerry Scullion
Gerry Scullion