When you think of Legos, most people think of “playtime”.   But to Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, the CEO of Lego, it’s a business.  And when he took over the company in 2004, it was a business that needed redirection.  Lego was losing $1 million a day and had overextended itself into categories outside of toy blocks, taken on massive debt and disconnected themselves from the creative experience it once was for children. Today, it is now the world’s most profitable toy company.

A key factor in that turn-around was putting the “heart” back into the business decisions that were being made. This meant discovering what made Lego unique, what was missing in the current approach, and what was it that customers had loved most about their Lego memories. The discovery of what made Lego so special was the creative building experience. To put that element back into the company, meant that Knudstorp had to give that creative building experience back to the employees in the way they were doing their jobs. Rather than controlling their experience, he defined the end goal and then let them figure out the best way to get there.  He also started telling employees “thank you for doing all the things I never told you to do.”  Internal service begets external service.  These approaches engaged the hearts and minds of the employees and resulted in allowing the final product of Lego building blocks to become the creative experience they once were.

Internal customer service also wove its way into not only the product but also the service delivery.  One of my favorite stories that exemplifies this is when a  7 year old sent in a request for a replacement mini figure. The set was out of production, but the staff went around to all the offices in the building asking everyone “would you happen to have this set we no longer manufacture” so they could find an unopened set that would have that figure they could send the boy. Going above and beyond, being engaged, being passionate about their true product has created a strong company culture for Lego’s future.

When was the last time you told your employees:  “Thank you for all the things I never told you to do.”

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