The Struggle of Lego

Although I played with Lego bricks as a child, I never knew the story behind Lego. I accidently stumbled on this video and was surprised by the struggle of Lego's founders.

I shouldn't have been surprised. All companies, regardless of their stage, struggle. Struggling is how companies, and humans, become stronger. The struggle makes the reward satisfiying.

Jimmy Dugan explains:

It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great.

Take-aways from the video:

  • Oppurtunity exists in bad circumstances - Ole, Lego's founder, had an unsuccessful carpentry business and had to layoff all his employees. Not thinking it could get much worse, his wife dies. Ole is left to tend to his 4 sons and decides to build wooden toys using the residual wood from the carpentry business to make ends meet.

  • Do whatever it takes to survive - Things are slow at first, but he soon receives a huge order. He is ecstatic. He builds all the toys required only to discover the company ordering the toys declares bankruptcy and can't pay him.Ole decides to sell the toys himself, but he is not a salesman. To survive, he trades toys for groceries.

  • Don't sacrafice quality for revenue - His son, Godtfred, began to help his father and the business. Godfred decides to use one less coat of lacquer on the wooden toys to decrease expenses. Ole made his son unpack all the toys and add the extra coat of lacquer. Ole believed in having a high quality product. To encourage employees to never skimp on qulaity Ole created Lego's motto, det bedste er ikke for godt, meaning The best is never too good.

  • Persevere through hardship - In 1942, A fire destroys the factory and products. Ole almost gives up but decides to persevere.

  • Take inspiration from others - On a cruise ship, Godtfred had a conversation with one of Lego's overseas buyers. The conversation led to the creation of the Lego system. The buyer convinced Godtfred a system should be developed for creative play. Other's give you the inspiration to create solutions.

  • Solutions exist in current problems - The locking mechanism for lego was created out of necessity. Initially, the bricks didn't stick together. Children would build things and upon moving their creation it would fall apart. The locking mechanism of the bricks was created out of neccessity for the creations to be portable.

  • Focus on revenue generators - Although wooden toys were created revenues for Lego, Godtfred decided to abandonen wooden toys and only focus on the Lego system. This gave the company a single focus in order to be successful and ride a growing trend.

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Written: December 05, 2012