Stiven Kirestegian, Senior Manager of Open Innovation and Technology Innovation at the LEGO Group, writes for Pioneers.
At the LEGO group, our mission is to "inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow". Our vision is to "invent the future of play". Since its introduction over half a century ago, the iconic LEGO® brick platform has enabled children across the world to play, learn and express their creativity in limitless ways. The diversity of the play experiences enabled by the LEGO brick and the high quality of the materials used has allowed the LEGO System in Play to transcend generations and cultures. Any LEGO brick purchased in a store today is compatible with the LEGO bricks produced more than 50 years ago.
Seamless innovation for over 50 years
The LEGO System has evolved into a means of creative expression handed down through several generations making it one of the worlds most recognized toys and the LEGO brand one of the most loved. No matter where I travel across the globe, as soon as a fan – of any age – finds out that I work at the LEGO Group, a smile fills their face and several enthusiastic stories follow…
Our ability to consistently diversify our product offering within the core LEGO values has allowed us to experience a prolonged period of aggressive growth even through recent difficult economic times. This is in part due to our in-house innovation prowess lead by hundreds of highly creative LEGO designers. Still, the fact is that 99.99 % of the world’s most talented individuals do not work for the LEGO Group but they probably grew up with and continue to have a relationship with the LEGO brand. Our open innovation strategy is focused on leveraging this passion from individuals worldwide by enabling participation and co-creation experiences that are both rewarding to users and at the same time open up and elevate our innovation capabilities.
We are really happy to say that there are numerous examples of open innovation at the LEGO Group.
Being a LEGO Entrepreneur
LEGO Architecture was an idea from a fan named Adam Reed Tucker who began buying bulk bricks from us and using his kitchen for packing and his mom’s garage for storage. In five years LEGO Architecture has grown into a large business for us that would have never been possible without Adam’s passion and persistence as a LEGO Entrepreneur.
MIT & LEGO: What seemed the perfect product got hacked and made even better
LEGO Mindstorms was developed in collaboration with MIT and for seven years some of the world’s most talented engineers worked on this product. When the product was finally launched in 1998, we thought it was perfect, but in just three weeks over one thousand users had hacked the system and had actually made it better. This was a great learning experience for us. Our latest version, LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 was co-designed with over a dozen lead users and tested and refined with hundreds of collaborators before launching earlier this year.
Crowdsourcing designs: Back to the Future
LEGO Cuusoo is our beta crowdsourcing platform where anyone can make his or her LEGO wish come true. Fans worldwide can submit their LEGO product idea, then use social media to channel support to get people to vote for their proposal. All ideas with 10,000 or more supporters are passed on to a design review to be considered for production. If an idea is produced, the LEGO entrepreneur earns 1% of the profits generated by that product. Thus far 6 models have been derived from LEGO Cuusoo including LEGO Minecraft and the DeLorean car from Back to the Future.
Today we are hard at work expanding our open innovation capability. Our goal is to enable our whole eco-system from employees to fans worldwide to participate in the ideation, co-creation and co-development of many of our products. We want to enable our users and fans to participate in an array of activities in collaboration with our LEGO product groups. These new open experiences will allow users and fans to have a much more immersive and participatory relationship with the LEGO brand and can eventually become a launching pad for disruptive user driven innovations.
We are very exited to see what the collective intelligence of our whole eco-system can come up with as we continue to open up and transition from the traditional concept of managing creativity from a few LEGO designers to a future when we systematically orchestrate creativity from millions of builders of tomorrow and today.