Using Legos for 3-D graphing

Companies like GM are using Legos to visualize production problems.

“We discussed … our frustrations with some of our reports not showing us what we really needed to see,” Dennis Pastor writes Co.Design.  We came to the conclusion that our processes were 3-dimensional but our reports were only 2-dimensional. We needed to see them 3-D; hand sketches were exchanged over the weekend and within the following week, GM had the first LEGO prototype in use. But beyond their transparency, there may be a bigger advantage to Legos: they’re also fun. By mapping real world problems to an icon of our youth, each challenge must be approached with an inherent playfulness. And because Legos are, by their very nature, expected to be rebuilt, patterns don’t appear stuck in stone–or just as bad–printed in ink. Now, if only we could get the Lego pirate ship or a lunar rover in the mix, we’d really have something.”

This is the second article that talks about the use of Legos as a tool/toy for adults to represent ideas in a three-dimensional form and, to have “fun” in the process. We know that children use all blocks in the same way – to visualize, test and retest ideas since the flexibility of blocks allows them to knock them down and rebuild again. It is curious that Pastor wants to add the Lego pirate ship or the lunar rover which seems to be the opposite idea of the non-representational, open-ended, and therefore, flexible nature of the Lego brick and, of blocks in general.