Summary of Brick by Brick

How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry

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Brick by Brick book summary
LEGO Group became a toy colossus by balancing innovation and discipline.


8 Overall

8 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Books on innovation strategy tend to focus on how to free the creative spirit. But as the history of the LEGO Group shows, imposing discipline and limits on your company’s innovation culture is equally important. Faced with a changing toy market in the 1990s, Lego responded with a decade of unbridled creativity, tripling its new toy offerings and moving into all possible markets. The result was a near disaster. In 2004, a new management team demonstrated that successful innovation alone is not enough. You must balance freedom with discipline, pacing and practicality. In this entertaining, detailed account, Wharton School professor David C. Robertson, writing with former Fast Company editor Bill Breen, shows how Lego’s management mishandled seven best practices of modern innovation and how the company subsequently modified these tenets to fit Lego’s unique culture. getAbstract recommends this trip to the business side of toy land to senior managers, product designers and developers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and anyone who still has a bucket of Legos in the closet (sure, they’re for the kids…).

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the LEGO Group used innovation to grow into a giant in the toy industry,
  • How it came to mishandle innovation and nearly collapsed in the early 2000s, and
  • How new management saved the company by focusing creatively on Lego’s core products.


Inside and Outside the Box
Successful innovation requires balancing a business’s core and its fringe. If you play it too safe and persist too long in making only incremental improvements to your core products, your portfolio will grow stale, undermining profits and inviting disruption. ...
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About the Authors

David C. Robertson teaches at the Wharton School. He previously taught innovation and technology management and was Lego professor at the IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland. Bill Breen is a former senior editor at Fast Company magazine.

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