business strategy | July 23, 2013

Less Can Be More: David Robertson Speaks To LEGO's Innovation Strategy

"Thinking out of the box almost put LEGO out of business," innovation speaker David Robertson says in a new keynote speech. "[It was] going back in the box [that] created a tremendous success." Robertson is a Wharton School Professor and author of Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry. In the book, he documented LEGO's remarkable comeback after enduring a period of near-bankruptcy. In his speeches, he draws from the extensive research in Brick by Brick, to show audiences that there is no "one-size-fits-all" method of innovation. Sometimes less is more. And, as Robertson shows, pushing the limits too far could potentially squander your business, like it almost did to LEGO. 

When LEGO experienced a massive loss in 1998, the iconic toy company brought in what Robertson calls a "turnaround expert" to help them innovate. Between 1999 and 2002, the company relentlessly and disruptively innovated their business model. The company got so innovative with their products, in fact, that they lost sight of who they were as a brand. Dabbling in theme parks, entertainment, and toys that didn't featured the company's classic brick-by-brick construction model was confusing to consumers. All of that innovating seemed to work at first—until eventually it didn't. "LEGO as we know it almost ceased to exist," Robertson notes.

The company quickly got to work on taking a different path. They rewrote the rules of innovation; disruptive, out-of-the-box thinking was not the only way to grow a company, they determined. And, as evidenced by their massive uptick in profit over the past decade, they proved that you don't always have to wander too far from the beaten path to find success.

In his keynotes, the business expert and conference speaker reveals the model behind LEGO's success. He provides audiences with the "bricks" they can use to build their own versions of LEGO’s system for continuous innovation. To book a speaker for your next event, or, to learn more about what David Robertson can bring to your organization, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

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