“Brick by Brick” by David C. Robertson [Review]

We recently received an advance copy of David C. Robertson‘s new book Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry.

There has been a lot of buzz about the LEGO Group in business circles for a number of years now. Much of this has been caused by the near-bankruptcy of the company and their stellar comeback, posting record profits yet again in 2012. Mr. Robertson’s book takes the reader on a journey deep inside the company and explains many of the internal workings that led to the rise, the fall, and the ultimate resurrection of LEGO. Mr. Robertson is a professor of innovation and product development, so some of the terminology was unfamiliar to me. However, his writing is accessible to the lay reader and the book gives a lot of insight into LEGO and their attempts at innovation, covering both their successes and failures. Some of the information may be familiar to the hard-core fan but I found that there was a lot of information regarding issues of which I was unaware. For instance, I knew that LEGO is an extremely insulated company and that the right hand often doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. What I didn’t know was that in the 90s they branched off into so many different markets and ventures that there were many divisions cut off from the main leadership and were never even asked to make sure their efforts were marketable, profitable or even if they had anything to do with LEGO.

Some of the points that Robertson explores are:
- How the leadership at LEGO in the 90s tried to incorporate the leading edge strategies of innovation strategies and nearly killed the company in doing so.
- The lose of control that the 90s leadership experienced by rapidly moving outside the company’s fields of expertise, not establishing any sort of reliable accountability or tracking of costs. As hard as it is to believe, the leadership didn’t even know which lines were making money and which weren’t.
- How the new leadership turned the company around by pulling back and innovating “inside the brick”…exploring innovations inside the realm of what they knew and could control.
- How and why certain innovations failed in such a spectacular fashion, such as LEGO Universe and Galidor, and why other innovations became overnight sensations, such as Ninjago, Mindstorms NXT, and the lines of LEGO video games and board games.

Overall, the book was quite interesting, easy to read, and gave me added insight into thought processes and decision-making that has gone on at LEGO. I would recommend it any LEGO fan.

Brick by Brick is available for pre-order from Amazon.com, and the book is due out on June 25th, 2013.

2 comments on ““Brick by Brick” by David C. Robertson [Review]

  1. JustPlainJim

    If the book is anything like David’s talk at Brickworld last year, I’ll be getting it. It was a fascinating lecture!

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