So what do LEGO’s & Start-ups have to do with each other?
The other day I was watching a movie my wife got from Netflix for my middle son called A LEGO Brickumentory.
It was the fascinating story of the history of those colored bricks many of us grew up with that have come so far. The infamous Dutch made LEGO’s.
The history of LEGO’s is filled with lessons of resilience and overcoming adversity after having their facilities burn down 3 times during their 120-year reign and having to reinvent themselves multiple times over.
The little stackable brick has worked it’s way into almost every home and family in the world no matter the religion, country or people group.
It is the ne of the most widely played toy today and the third largest toy company in the world competing with Hasbro, and Mattel.
They have not had to branch out with other types of toys like dolls, cars, planes per say. They have stuck with their original concept and literally built upon it brick by brick.
However for me, the most interesting aspect of the movie for me was what they did when they were almost threatened with extinction.
The brick had lost its appeal and the old method of business (building stuff in secret and stealth mode) like many businesses do today, almost killed them.
They were trying to reinvent themselves but it was “as they shared” an almost arrogant attitude towards their customers that was holding them back. Thinking THEY knew what their customers wanted
Meanwhile happening all around them were hundreds if not thousands of clubs, groups, societies and fans that were using Legos in a most creative way.
They were building with their imaginations and coming up with all sorts of ways to use LEGO’s
Some were even designing their own parts and pieces to go with their imaginations.
One such was the man who was using them in architecture. He caught the eye of one of the LEGO executives and in short LEGO Architecture was born.
Now LEGO could have played hardball and sued but instead, they choose to partner with the man.
This collaborative, sort of “Open Source”, approach breathed new life into the company.
Working with the people and letting them tell them what they wanted spurned new ideas and innovation.
They began to realize their world would expand and become better with an open source collaborative model instead of the secretive competitive model.
So what can that tell us about start-ups and even as far as societies?
The lesson is that no matter how good you think your idea is, open your company up to customer input.
Use a collaborative yet agile approach to the market place. Let them partner with you.
View your customer as a long term asset, not just a customer but an alliance partner.
It is okay to let them bring ideas in. It makes you more effective and breaths more life into the process that people want.
Your vision will grow and come more to life as you listen to and implement the ideas they bring.
And as for societies?
There is a philosophy that is trying to permeate our cultural landscape today that “we the people are simply mass cattle and the elite establishment should rule the world as they know better.”
What they are failing to realize is that true abundant life is found in empowering the masses to become youralliancee partner and work together to create something even more powerful.
We collectively have access to untold wisdom and innovation when we look for ways to grow our societies. When we open source to all people groups.
When we cut ourselves off thinking we know better and are wiser we tend to limit our possibilities.
What would happen if we found ways to support the planet and embraced all of life? If we valued everyone’s creativity and input? If we taught those who have been considered the less desirable by many how to become an entrepreneur, how to add value to the planet?
My guess if we used this kind of open source approach in society and business we would find all the answers to our modern day problems and come up with even cooler inventions.
We would be on the path to Utopia, Heaven on Earth if you will.
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