December 6, 2021


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Innovating in existing markets: 3 lessons from LEGO – MIT Sloan News

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With the invention of the interlocking plastic brick, a favorite toy of generations, LEGO was a poster child for business innovation — that is, until it wasn’t.

The Danish toymaker’s trajectory from industry trailblazer to the brink of bankruptcy to sustained recovery shows there’s more to innovation than sheer luck or a wholesale focus on disruption.

“No innovation lasts forever,” said David Robertson, a senior lecturer in operations management, in a recent webinar hosted by MIT Sloan Executive Education. “Sometimes you get hyper growth for a couple of years, sometimes you get steady growth for longer. But innovations run their course.”

From its inception in the 1930s to its brush with bankruptcy in 2003 and its subsequent turnaround, LEGO tried every approach in the book to managing innovation, some resulting in spectacular success and others in great failure, said Robertson, author of “Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry.”

Based on years of research and what he’s seen at LEGO and other companies, Robertson advocates for an expansive approach to innovation — helping customers get more value from existing products by offering innovative complementary products, services, and business models.

Executive education opportunity

David Robertson teaches Innovating in Existing Markets: Reviving Mature Products and Services, a live online course …….