Tue 25th Apr 2017
Thinking outside of the Lego box
Pictured L-R: Ann McGregor (NI Chamber)Christian Majgaard (Ex-LEGO) and Paul Stapleton (Electric Ireland)
Global toy brand LEGO has had to think not only ‘outside of the box’ – but has had to ‘get out of the box’ in order to maintain growth and to avoid being labelled old fashioned.
That was the key message from Christian Majgaard, former Head of Global brand at LEGO, the world’s most recognisable toy brand.
Christian was the guest speaker at NI Chamber’s Growing Something Brilliant Leadership event in partnership with Electric Ireland which took place at the MAC in Belfast.
Named one of the ‘21 Leaders for the 21st Century’, Christian is a highly respected figure in marketing and innovation and currently divides his time between creative and brand consulting, non-executive roles, writing and speaking.
Speaking to an audience of almost 200 businesses, Christian said: “In the 1990’s, LEGO changed its view on its offering from being a plastic brick to being a brand with a greater meaning than just the bricks, and now including robotics, theme parks, brand stores and movie character licenses. We had to do this because new technologies and business models entered the toy industry and disrupted LEGO’s growth curve. LEGO was at risk of being made “old fashioned” a “thing of the past.” Quite simply LEGO had to react if it wanted to grow.
“Wherever growth and innovation is on the corporate agenda, the HR department has often organised sessions about “thinking out of the box.” I have never seen that this exercise lead to any change. I have however great experience from seeing people actually getting out of the box and going out into the real world to explore new learning and inspiration.
“Many innovative concepts (approaches, technologies, designs) may well be new to the company in question, but may not be new to the world. This means that such concepts already exist somewhere – maybe in a slightly different form or use. My advice is therefore for businesses to go and see other innovative concepts already out there – maybe even ask questions of them and learn.”
Referring to the success of US-based car rental company Enterprise Inc, Christian continued: “For whatever reason, many managers believe that management is about having everything under control, where it is described, reported, measured, fact-planned, explained and followed-up etc. Under such left-brain regimes it is sometimes hard to foster creativity and innovation, and probably for the very same reason, many growth stories are about acquisition and more rarely about organic innovative development.
“For example, the rise to success of Enterprise Inc was based on their innovative customer definition. Whilst the mainstream focus of the rental car industry was renting cars to airline travellers, Enterprise focused at people whose car had broken down or was temporarily unavailable. It is interesting to notice that Enterprise did not innovate their different and highly successful customer focus through a strategic plan but through incidental experimentation in one of their sales branches.”
Paul Stapleton, General Manager at Electric Ireland, commenting on the series said, “Our experience has taught us that in times of change it is important to think differently, to disrupt and to innovate. It is appropriate therefore that Christian Majgaard is the first speaker of the Chamber’s 2017 Growing Something Brilliant series. His experience working within an industry which encounters constant disruption, from the introduction of new and emerging technologies to the constant threat posed from competitors causing so much uncertainty in the ever-evolving market place, has great relevance for an audience of Northern Ireland business leaders.
Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, said:
“NI Chamber members were delighted that Christian was available to join us today and share such a fantastic story of how exceptional management and leadership can transform a company such as LEGO. Although LEGO is one of the world’s most recognisable brands, the principles used by the company to innovate and grow can be applied to any size of business.”
The event formed part of NI Chamber’s ‘Growing Something Brilliant’ leadership series of events aimed at inspiring business confidence and growth through outstanding leadership.