Brick by Brick

Dive into the world of Lego with Brick by Brick by David Robertson and Bill Green. This compelling book takes you on an adventure through the recent history of Lego. It’s written in 2013 and takes the closest look at the 15 years preceding that year. It’s here where the company loses focus, tries to innovate too much, and start haemorrhaging money. But the company does find its way back (into the living room of kids) and is now seen as a powerhouse of the toy industry.

The 7 Truths

  1. Build an innovative culture
  2. Become customer driven
  3. Explore the full spectrum of innovation
  4. Foster Open Innovation
  5. Attempt a disruptive innovation
  6. Sail for Blue Oceans
  7. Leverage diverse and creative people

These sound pretty good, right? Well, they were almost the end of the whole LEGO empire. And what I took home most from the book is that they tried to do too much at the same time. They tried to make something similar to Minecraft (and that didn’t work because of their demands, not perse because of Minecraft’s competition). And the company forgot what their core competence was (the LEGO play experience, with the brick at its core).

Another central theme of the book was the neglect of the customer. LEGO didn’t listen to what the customers wanted. They even actively disengaged with adults who bought LEGO (which accounted for 15% or more of the sales). Only with much reluctance did they involve the customer in the development process. And at a level, I can relate to LEGO. It’s sometimes difficult to receive honest feedback. Both emotionally (you don’t want to hear it), and more basically (the customer doesn’t always know what they want or how to articulate that need). But it’s definitely something to remember and do.

Brick by Brick is a great look inside this iconic company. It’s more an examination than a book full of lessons. And that is alright. Read it if you’re interested in LEGO and innovation.