Book Review: Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry, by David C. Robertson with Bill Breen
“The most difficult challenge in business is not to invent an innovative product: it’s to build an organization that can continually create innovative products.” That was the challenge facing LEGO in 2003, as David Robertson and Bill Breen explain in their book, Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry.
In 2000, LEGO was hailed as one of the best toys on the planet. By 2003, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. The company had lost control and was hurtling towards a crash. As the authors explain, the transformative effort was played out in five stages over eight years.
LEGO 1.0 – The first stage was a fight for survival. (1) The company had to strip the complexity out of the business through cost reducing steps. (2) They had to restore competitiveness by making retail customers (rather than kids) their primary concern. (3) They need to raise cash by selling off assets such as LEGOLAND theme parks.
LEGO 2.0 – In the second stage, they sought clear direction by taking LEGO “back to the brick,” focusing on core assets, core customers, and core products.
LEGO 3.0 – In the third stage, they defined the different degrees of innovation they would pursue with each product line.
LEGO 4.0 – In this phase, they pivoted from innovations that restored a profitable core business platform to innovations that aimed to fuel organic growth. They took on riskier challenges while at the same time reimagined classic product lines.
LEGO 5.0 – Since 2011, LEGO balanced focusing on classic product lines with innovating from the fringe, conceiving and launching new ideas quickly, systematically, and sometimes idiosyncratically.
Throughout the book, the authors discuss how LEGO mastered the seven truths of innovation in order to transform the culture of LEGO—building an innovation culture; becoming customer driven; exploring the full spectrum of innovation; fostering open innovation; attempting a disruptive innovation; sailing for blue ocean; and leveraging diverse and creative people.
Having grown up with LEGOs and seeing my son enjoy them, I was interested to read about the company and learn how they practiced innovation. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas on creativity and leadership. While the book was interesting and informative, I’m not sure I walked away with principles I can put into practice in my situation.
I received this book for free from The Blogging for Books program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.