I loved Lego when I was kid. We had an enormous box of it and played with it for hours. Now I’m looking forward to playing with it again with my nieces and nephew – because of course it’s educational as well as being fun!
I always thought Lego was a highly successful company. Started by Ole Kirk Christiansen in Denmark in the 1930’s as a wooden toy company, the word ‘lego’ loosely translates as ‘play well’. By 1950 he had developed their famous brick and moved into plastic production. The company grew slowly until the 80’s when it boomed. But then in the 90’s business slowed as Chinese manufactured toys reduced the price and boys turned away from Lego to video games.
So the company went on an innovation binge in 2000 creating Star Wars and Harry Potter Lego. Yet by 2003 it was virtually out of money, losing $300M.
In 2004 the family stepped aside to being on the Board and appointed CEO Jorgen Knudstorp to run the business. He found that the company has lost it’s connection with the vision of ‘play well’ so set about redefining what Lego was about, putting processes in place where employees were free to innovate as long as they could show how that connected with the vision, and moving the company back to being successful again.
Lego redefined itself to being about a family playing together, not just the young boy market. There are now products for all ages (how many of us adult went to the recent Lego movie??) and both genders.
Which leads me to ponder: are we clear on what HR’s vision is?
When people ask me what HR does, I usually describe it as ‘helping companies succeed through their people’. When people mistakenly think that Elephant is a recruitment company and we tell them that we don’t do recruitment, they look confused. “But what does HR do then?” they ask. “Everything after you’ve hired the person!” we tell them. I can also define what an operational level HR role and a BP/GM role should do.
But I wonder if like Lego, even though we’ve got all of that, we’re still on the path of going bankrupt.
Because we haven’t stepped back and redefined what HR is now all about. And what it will be in the next few years.
And that’s really what the HR Game Changer Conference is about – redefining HR and being clear on our vision. Until we’ve got something that we can all connect to, we can keep innovating but still be heading for failure.
It seems that Lego might have more to teach us than we ever thought possible.
For more about Lego visit: http://aboutus.lego.com/en-us
To be part of redefining HR: register for the conference today!