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

David Robertson , Bill Breen
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Mar 2014

LEGO is one of the world's best-loved and most familiar brands, adored by generations of children. What is less well known, though, is how close this iconic company came to total collapse in 2003.

Brick by Brick is the compelling story of a Danish family-owned company that enjoyed decades of success before its inability to keep in step with a rapidly changing market brought it crashing to earth. It's also the story of an extraordinary recovery. As disaster stared them in the face, the management of LEGO embarked on an audacious and innovative plan to turn their fortunes around, and then painstakingly implemented it. Today, the company is riding high once again, and enjoying results that are the envy of their competitors.

Granted unprecedented access to every part of the LEGO Group, David Robertson not only charts each twist in the company's story but explains precisely what went wrong and how it was fixed. His clear-sighted analysis will prove invaluable to all those who want to understand how companies can not only ride the storm of change, but benefit from it.

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Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry + Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Business (6 Mar 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1847941176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847941176
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The raw material he deals with is every bit as durable and grip­ping as Lego bricks. . .Robertson's take on Lego's success holds plenty of lessons for companies pondering how to remain innovative in a fast-changing world." (Richard Milne, Financial Times)

"A nuanced and readable case study." (David A. Price, Wall Street Journal)

Book Description

The story of LEGO's extraordinary rise, fall and rise again.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but flawed... 6 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book has been thoroughly researched and contains a lot of interesting info about the Lego group, but it's spoiled by the author's obsession with 'Rules of innovation,' and the idea that by following this set of rules a company can consistently deliver hit products and great innovation, with no consideration given to blind luck, or the fickle nature of creative inspiration.

According to this book, Lego Ninjago and Bionicle were a success becuause they followed the rules, Jack Stone and Galidor were failures because management didn't. The Lego Universe online game was a failure because of poor management, but completely ignores the fact that while Lego Universe was a failure, the same team simultainously developed a highly successful series of Lego themed video games (that barely get a mention, presumably becuase it doesn't fit the plot).

Everyone who has ever worked in a 'hit based,' industry, whether it's toys, music, film, will tell you that nothing guaruantees a hit, becuase so much is down to luck, inspiration and a lot of things going your way.

Big companies such as film studios, toy companies, survive because they produce a large slate of products and the occasional hits generate enough income to pay for the misses. There's no magic formula and the way that the book takes different Lego projects and trys to say, 'this is a success becaause this rule was followed,' or 'this is a failure because they didn't follow rule X,' is absurd.

Ironically, the very interesting back-from-the-brink story that the book tells beneath the management guru hoopla is one that has been written about silmiar companies on dozens of occasions. Lego has a run of duff products in the early 2000s (Like say, Disney recently had a run of duff films...
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4.0 out of 5 stars excellent business read 21 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I would have loved to learn more about the ethnographic studies. Otherwise the book is a great read. Highly recommended!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, educative and entertaining 15 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great review of the business history of Lego, their culture and how the were able to transform themselves to rebuild the brand. Highly recommended, very dynamic reading. I really enjoyed it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into the LEGO machine 15 Aug 2013
By mglong
I've been a LEGO fan as long as I can remember and I rediscovered building at about the time this book picks up the story of how the LEGO Group completely lost their way, tried everything under the sun all at once and nearly killed a brand many of us have known and loved since childhood.

Robertson gained unprecedented access to the top management in LEGO to retell the story from the inside. The book is in two parts; the first details the decline of the brand at a time when everyone perceived digital toys to be the way forward. Part two then covers the innovative transformational approach to bring them back from near collapse to one of the world's top toy brands who still innovate 'inside the box'. It's a fascinating read, especially for LEGO fans. There are lessons to be learned, perhaps not for everyone but for most. You'd be forgiven for thinking that some of what Robertson describes is common sense (and it is) but that doesn't stop some people and organisations rushing headlong towards failure. Some of what LEGO subsequently did is truly inspirational for a company of its size and heritage. They prove that with the right people driving the right behaviours, leopards can change their spots. It will take time, but it can be done.

Much of the content refers to individual LEGO product lines, so a background knowledge of these definitely helps but is not essential. The book also tends to follow the lifecycle of these product lines rather than be purely chronological so you have to keep your wits about you to keep track of what happened when.

As a LEGO fan, it's a must-read. Having lived through this period as an adult LEGO fan and seen this first hand it's great to read the inside story.
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