A LEGO-like Lesson on Corporate Rebuilding

Like many organizations that have endured the ups and downs of the economy since 2008, the Danish toymaker LEGO had to make some major adjustments in order to survive.  According to an article by Martin Lindstrom (see LEGO engineered a remarkable turnaround on its business. How’d that happen?), LEGO’s problems may have begun as far back as 1981 when some of the first handheld games began to hit the market.  Over the past several decades, LEGO experienced changes in their level of success—but one would assume that if anyone knew how to restructure a downward trending company, it would be a block-building business, right? LEGO’s remarkable effort highlighted an incredible corporate rebuilding success.

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t that easy for leaders at LEGO to assess where the problems were and, more importantly, determine how to rebuild and recover from their losses.  According to Lindstrom, one of the most essential steps leaders took was to spend time with an actual customer:  an eleven-year-old boy.

This seemingly small, insignificant marketing research yielded huge results—including some major adjustments in understanding what tech-savvy, 21st century kids wanted from LEGO products.

During this process, leaders went back to the fundamentals of past financial success, asking important questions from the clientele who mattered most.  They discovered that their business wasn’t just about blocks; instead, it was about the people who used them!  Herein we find an invaluable lesson:  in order to stay relevant, leaders must relate to the individuals we are privileged to serve.

At LEADon, we stress this personal connection over and over again in our work with organizations.  All of us, one way or another, are in the people business.  Our clients are relational beings, and our companies are essentially one big Corporate Family®.  And we must be intentional in our efforts to relate and connect with everyone in this corporate sphere of influence.  Take a few minutes to see how you are doing in your attempts to build better connections with those around you:

  1. How often do you interact with your clientele to be sure you are meeting their current needs?
  2. What are you intentionally doing so that you can understand where your clients’ needs may be trending in the future?
  3. Are leaders in your organization relating personally with individuals on their teams on a regular, consistent basis?
  4. What “face time” gatherings do you have planned for your Corporate Family members? Do you strive to get everyone together several times a year?

Think about your answers to these questions, then brainstorm some specific steps you can take to build up your organization in positive, productive ways. If you feel, as LEGO did, that you’ve lost touch with your base, then make mid-course corrections to rebuild the connections to your most valuable asset: people!”