At GasPedal’s Supergenius event, Ant’s Eye View Chief Strategy Officer Jake McKee shared his experiences as Global Community Relations Specialist at the LEGO Group. It’s an amazing case study of a 180-degree shift from company-centric culture to a customer-centric culture. Once the company started thinking about their higher calling — LEGOs as a creative medium — sales went through the roof. Here’s how it played out:
- LEGO was a “fort business” whose culture was largely walled off from the world.
- Each year, LEGO went to Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart and Target and asked the retailers what they wanted LEGO to make. Often, the retailers said they didn’t know.
- The company didn’t accept unsolicited product ideas, largely out of fear of being sued.
- LEGO’s target market was boys aged 7 to 12. Adult fans were considered weird.
- Their attitude was “We’re too busy doing business to answer your e-mail.”
- The company was losing money in 2002.
- LEGO began by listening to their “minority passionistas” and fans of multiple ages.
- They invited their most enthusiastic users, adult fans, to share their feedback and ideas.
- They realized they needed to focus on creating a better building experience.
- LEGO set about enabling users to design their own sets, which they can now receive in custom boxes.
- This led to cooler, more expensive sets such as a $500, 500-piece “Star Wars” product.
- By 2007, LEGO was highly profitable and was the cover story of Wired Magazine in February 2006.
- Taking this to another level, they are now developing a massively multiplayer online game, LEGO Universe, which will be released in 2010.
In response to the question “What were the initial steps you took to bring about this shift?” McKee shared his insights into the process:
- There was not much boardroom activity.
The companyJake and his team learned slowly, achieving “success by 1000 papercuts.” They did the smallest things they could get away with, then turned those results into a case study, and those case studies grew over time.
- Tenacity was essential.