From the Publisher
One of “The Best Books of 2013” -Fortune
One of the “Best Business Books of 2013” –Strategy + Business
"Well told...Mr. Robertson, with the benefit of access to staff at Lego and partner companies, provides unusually detailed reporting of the processes that led to Lego's current hits." -Wall Street Journal
"Robertson uncovers and shares a rare inside exploration of innovation-led transformation at its worst – and best. Any manager can learn from these lessons." -Forbes
“An engaging, surprisingly suspenseful and intimate view of the inner workings, leadership dynamics and decision-making process.” -Success
“Compelling reading.” –Business Standard
"Good storytelling, with considerable insight into Lego's efforts at innovation, including both successes and failures." -Winnipeg Free Press
“A valuable read for any business leader or student, but will also delight those familiar with the beloved toy.” –Publishers Weekly starred review
"A fascinating book. The story of how Lego came perilously close to disaster but then transformed itself into one of the most successful and innovative companies in the world serves both as an inspiration and an object lesson." -Chris Anderson, bestselling author of The Long Tail and Makers
"Brick by Brick is a fascinating study of an iconic toy company that figured out how to stay relevant in a rapidly changing market by returning to its core values and the guiding principles that made it a success in the first place. A must-read for any executive struggling with change." – Bryce G. Hoffman, journalist and author of American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company
"In an era filled with so many disheartening stories of corporate failure its refreshing to witness the turn-a-round success of one we have all grown up with during our childhood and that will continue for generations to come." –Adam Reed Tucker, LEGO Architectural Artist
“David Robertson and Bill Breen have done a wonderful job explaining brick by brick why Lego is loved around the world and what it took to keep this product at the center of toy industry for so long. Like Disney, Lego’s success can be attributed to their drive for innovation, creativity and persistence. While the bricks are loved by children, Brick by Brick is for any business person wanting to understand what it takes to be great.” –Lee Cockerell, executive vice president (retired and inspired), Walt Disney World Resort, author, Creating Magic and The Customer Rules
LEGOs are so much fun that it's sometimes difficult to remember that behind these educational playthings is a management team determined to make a profit. And in the early nineties, we were probably too enraptured playing with our old sets to notice that LEGO was experiencing a major corporate crisis. To banish the fiscal doldrums, the company hired academics and management consultants who offered hours and hours of eye-straining PowerPoint admonitions: "Find Blue Ocean Markets"; "Practice Disruptive Innovation"; "Open Innovation." Ten years of that advice nearly bankrupted. Then, brick by brick, as the title says, LEGO managers retooled and recreated itself and became a toy industry leader and a very profitable firm.
LEGO’s iconic building system is a favorite of children and parents worldwide. Wharton professor Robertson’s entertaining, informative, and fast-paced account of LEGO’s rise, fall, and subsequent victory in the marketplace will have readers rooting for the survival of the little brick. Writing with former Fast Company senior editor Breen (The Responsibility Revolution), Robertson recounts how in 1932, founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, a Danish master carpenter and toymaker, spent more than a decade perfecting the plastic brick; how his son Godtfred “bet on the brick” in the mid-1950s and developed play systems that propelled the company’s expansion through the next several decades; and how grandson Kjeld drove global growth from the 1970s to the early 2000s. The majority of the book examines the company’s precarious health over the last decade. A turnaround operator’s attempted innovation backfires and leaves the company’s balance sheet bleeding beyond repair. In the end, a new CFO and CEO take draconian measures to repair the company, focusing on “profitable innovation”—rather than innovation for innovation’s sake—and listening to the customer. This book will be a valuable read for any business leader or student, but will also delight those familiar with the beloved toy. 37 b&w photos, 8-page insert. Agent: Carol Franco, Kneerim, Williams & Bloom. (June)
How LEGO, the closely held, family-owned Danish toymaker, rose to world leadership in its business class, flirted with bankruptcy collapse and recovered to stake its claim to global leadership once again. Wharton School professor Robertson (co-author: Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, 2006) and Fast Company founding member Breen (co-author: The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win, 2010, etc.) map the history of the company in relation to the principles that currently underlie business thinking about how to organize innovation successfully for the long haul. Founded in 1932 by master carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen in Billund--where its world headquarters and manufacturing facilities are still located--he company's name is a play on the Danish leg godt, which means "play well." Christiansen's son, Godtfred, bought their first plastic-injection molding machine in 1947 and developed an "Automatic Binding Brick" by 1951. It was not until 1958, however, after years of experimentation, that they hit on the small hollow brick and its distinctive "clutch power" when the bricks are snapped together, that the company was propelled to world success. The authors show how chasing short-term popular trends in the 1990s alienated the customer base and sapped revenues, but LEGO recovered stronger than before, as their now-grown-up customer base stepped forward and helped transform the company's world position with the volunteered designs and criticisms that went into successful products like the LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot. Turning back to their traditional base with things like Henrik Andersen's 2004 design for a LEGO fire truck and products like LEGO Architect, also helped. A lively account of a company whose products will be familiar to most readers.