Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry

David Robertson, Author, Bill Breen, Author
David C. Robertson, with Bill Breen. Crown Business, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-307-95160-1
Reviewed on: 04/29/2013
Release date: 06/25/2013
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LEGO’s iconic building system is a favorite of children and parents worldwide. Wharton professor Robertson’s entertaining, informative, and fast-paced account of LEGO’s rise, fall, and subsequent victory in the marketplace will have readers rooting for the survival of the little brick. Writing with former Fast Company senior editor Breen (The Responsibility Revolution), Robertson recounts how in 1932, founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, a Danish master carpenter and toymaker, spent more than a decade perfecting the plastic brick; how his son Godtfred “bet on the brick” in the mid-1950s and developed play systems that propelled the company’s expansion through the next several decades; and how grandson Kjeld drove global growth from the 1970s to the early 2000s. The majority of the book examines the company’s precarious health over the last decade. A turnaround operator’s attempted innovation backfires and leaves the company’s balance sheet bleeding beyond repair. In the end, a new CFO and CEO take draconian measures to repair the company, focusing on “profitable innovation”—rather than innovation for innovation’s sake—and listening to the customer. This book will be a valuable read for any business leader or student, but will also delight those familiar with the beloved toy. 37 b&w photos, 8-page insert. Agent: Carol Franco, Kneerim, Williams & Bloom. (June)
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