“We have no choice!” – and other reasons for LEGO to open up their innovation efforts


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Beyond pursuing the obvious benefits of open innovation such as faster development, more diversity and shared risk, companies also discover their own reasons for opening up their innovation efforts.

Working with the new open innovation initiative at LEGO, I learned this was also true for them. Here are some of the reasons why LEGO is adopting open innovation more strategically and structured than what they did before:

We have no choice! When I discussed reasons with Erik Hansen, the guy in charge of open innovation at LEGO, his first reply came immediately: We have no choice!

He argued that today consumers in fast moving consumer goods industries expect to be involved in the development of new products and services. This is especially true for LEGO where consumers – to some extent rightfully – feel that the LEGO products and services not only belongs to LEGO, but also the community that helped build LEGO.

• A growing internal awareness and need. Yes, Erik Hansen and his team still have to push for this new openess and explain what this is about, but it helps a lot when open innovation is driven by internal awareness and needs. This goes back the “We have no choice” reason as this internal awareness is driven by a growing understanding among the employees they cannot do everything themselves and thus they have no choice but to reach out to external contributors. I sense this is the case with LEGO.

• No one wants to be the only guy in the sandbox. Although consumers really craved for LEGO to open up their efforts on crowdsourcing, you still need an industry that is ready to open up in the b-t-b space. This is happening in almost all industries today as open innovation matures and thus makes it even more obvious for LEGO to move ahead and approach the growing number of partners who want to play in the innovation sandbox.

• A built-up need for a clear strategy. LEGO has always had initiatives that involved consumer interactions and alliances with external partners with regards to their innovation efforts. As the number of such initiatives grows, there is now a built-up need for aligning these efforts in a corporate strategy.

By the way, LEGO is trying not to use the open innovation term as they do not believe it really covers what they are doing. This makes sense as open innovation is hard to define and also quite a buzz-word : – )

I look forward to see how LEGO will position their efforts and I look forward to staying in touch with the open innovation team at LEGO and share more of their insights and lessons learned.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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