Make Innovation Everybody's Business

How Thinking Inside the Box Helps Innovation

Don’t just innovate for the sake of innovation.

Commonsensical as this sounds, this can be easy to forget. It’s absolutely important to think within the perimeters in order to help grow a company’s innovation.

lego_dublo_arto_alanenpaa_5Lego serves as a case in point. After being leaders in the toys industry for many years they were met with a scenario where birth rates were declining, video games were occupying more and more time for kids, Chinese were able to copy any of their new products with lower costs and new powerful retailers were appearing. Lego needed to innovate.

Lego gave a try to everything: children’s clothing, movies, TV shows. In other words, variety of innovation, bringing along higher and higher levels of complexity to the business.

A new approach was needed.

Thinking outside the box had not worked. In 2003, the new CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp changed the focus for innovation. It was time to think back inside box and Innovation closer to the company’s core. This is what Lego did. They went back to the original Lego brick. In other words – they set up a number of constraints that new products and projects had to fit into. All their energies were put into becoming even better at what Lego already were good at. A police station or a great fire truck was at the core of this new strategy and in this simplicity and tradition they found a great amount of value as well as Lego fans returning to the brand.

Lego brought the creative team out of its limbo and connected it to the company’s business goals, allowing them to create under directions.

In the end this trip over turned into a success and 3 big lessons:

  1. Unguided innovation is risky. Don’t just innovation for the sake of innovation.
  2. Innovate around the core of your business.
  3. Constraints aligned with strategic goals can give innovation efforts speed and direction at the same time.

Source: Gijs van Wulfen via LinkedIn 


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