innovation | August 13, 2013

LEGO Breaks The Rules Of Innovation—And Wins: David Robertson In TIME

Effectively fostering a culture of innovation within your organization is an enviable achievement. David Robertson, who was the conference speaker at Wharton’s William and Phyllis Mack Center recently, uses LEGO as a case study for how to implement an effective innovation strategy. TIME magazine shared key takeaways from the Brick by Brick author's keynote. First, Robertson spoke to how LEGO's initial attempts at innovation failed. He also shared the way the company recovered from that failure to become more successful than ever—and what other organizations can learn from their journey.

“Lego followed all the advice of the experts,” Robertson told the audience. “And yet it almost went bankrupt.” Though remaining stagnant certainly isn't a recipe for success, trying to take on too much can be just as detrimental. Less was certainly more in LEGO's case, as he explains in another of his keynotes. When they charged full-forced into unbridled innovative ventures, both the company—and the consumers—became confused by what the brand represented. As Robertson told us: "[Give your staff] the space to be creative with the governance to guide." That's what LEGO did. The company now allows any level of employee to suggest ideas for new products so long as the innovation is consistent with the company's main goal: being recognized as the best company for family products.

Robertson concluded his “Learning from Failure in Innovation” seminar by stressing that innovation doesn't fall under a "one-size-fits-all" model. What works for one company won't necessarily work for your own. That's why it's important to manage your innovation instead of blindly following the advice of "innovation experts." Innovation doesn't necessarily mean being disruptive and veering into completely uncharted territory. Rather, as LEGO learned, it's about staying true to your brand while making small tweaks to keep your products from becoming passé. Just as Robertson's book title suggests, the company tackles innovation brick by brick.

Robertson's keynotes act as a refreshing alternative to traditional talks on innovation. It's not always about being disruptive or chasing "the next big thing," he shows. Using LEGO as a case study, he provides audiences with the do's and don'ts of innovation. To book a speaker like David Robertson for your next event, conference, or meeting, contact The Lavin Agency.

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