Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry

Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry

by David Robertson, Bill Breen
Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry

Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry

by David Robertson, Bill Breen


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Brick by Brick takes you inside the LEGO you've never seen. By following the teams that are inventing some of the world's best-loved toys, it spotlights the company's disciplined approach to harnessing creativity and recounts one of the most remarkable business transformations in recent memory.

Brick by Brick reveals how LEGO failed to keep pace with the revolutionary changes in kids' lives and began sliding into irrelevance. When the company's leaders implemented some of the business world's most widely espoused prescriptions for boosting innovation, they ironically pushed the iconic toymaker to the brink of bankruptcy. The company's near-collapse shows that what works in theory can fail spectacularly in the brutally competitive global economy.

It took a new LEGO management team – faced with the growing rage for electronic toys, few barriers to entry, and ultra-demanding consumers (ten-year old boys) – to reinvent the innovation rule book and transform LEGO into one of the world's most profitable, fastest-growing companies. 

Along the way, Brick by Brick reveals how LEGO:

- Became truly customer-driven by co-creating with kids as well as its passionate adult fans
- Looked beyond products and learned to leverage a full-spectrum approach to innovation
- Opened its innovation process by using both the "wisdom of crowds" and the expertise of elite cliques
- Discovered uncontested, "blue ocean" markets, even as it thrived in brutally competitive red oceans
- Gave its world-class design teams enough space to create and direction to deliver built a culture where profitable innovation flourishes

Sometimes radical yet always applicable, Brick by Brick abounds with real-world lessons for unleashing breakthrough innovation in your organization, just like LEGO. Whether you're a senior executive looking to make your company grow, an entrepreneur building a startup from scratch, or a fan who wants to instill some of that LEGO magic in your career, you'll learn how to build your own innovation advantage, brick by brick.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307951601
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/25/2013
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.56(w) x 9.34(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

DAVID C. ROBERTSON joined the faculty of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in January of 2011, and was the LEGO Professor of Innovation and Technology Management at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland from 2002 through 2010.  As the LEGO Professor, Robertson was given unique access to the company’s management team, has written two case studies about the company, and is the co-author of a Harvard Business Review piece on LEGO.   At IMD, Robertson was the co-director of the school’s largest executive education program, the Program for Executive Development, and directed programs for Credit Suisse, EMC, HSBC, Skanska, BT, and other leading European companies. For more on Robertson’s background, and to contact him for speaking and consulting engagements, visit
BILL BREEN is a founding member of the team that launched Fast Company, which gained an avid following among businesspeople and won numerous awards, including the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. As senior editor, he edited Fast Company's special issues on design and leadership and wrote many articles on competition, innovation, and personal success. He is the coauthor of The Responsibility Revolution and The Future of Management, which the editors of selected as the best business book of the year. Breen speaks to business audiences on leadership, innovation and sustainability; he has appeared on CNN, Fox, CBS, National Public Radio, and other media outlets. Connect with Bill at

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction: When the Bricks Click 1

Part 1 The Seven Truths of Innovation and LEGO Group's Decline

Chapter 1 Stacking Up 13

The Birth of the Brick

Chapter 2 Boosting Innovation 39

The LEGO Group's Bold Bid to Keep Pace with a Fast-Forward World

Chapter 3 Losing Control 63

The Scattered Remains of Runaway Innovation

Part 2 Mastering the Seven Truths of Innovation and Transforming LEGO

Chapter 4 Building an Innovation Culture 95

The Return to Core Values

Chapter 5 Becoming Customer Driven 123

The Rebirth of LEGO City

Chapter 6 Exploring the Full Spectrum of Innovation 151

The Bionicle Chronicle

Chapter 7 Fostering Open Innovation 179

Mindstorms, Architecture, and the Wisdom of the Clique

Chapter 8 Attempting a Disruptive Innovation 215

Aiming for the Stars with LEGO Universe

Chapter 9 Sailing for Blue Ocean 239

"Obviously LEGO, but Never Seen Before" and the Birth of LEGO Games

Chapter 10 Leveraging Diverse and Creative People 263

The Ninjago Big Bang

Chapter 11 Transforming LEGO 281

The Rebirth of a Brand

Notes 295

Index 297

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