Tag Archives: Lego

Innovation in Motion

Every once in a while someone comes along and takes what most people believe is a mature category and finds a way to inject new life, new innovation into it.

What’s even more impressive in the case that I’m about to talk about is that a new entrant has found a way to innovate in a category where the dominant player is often held up by innovation consultants and innovation keynote speakers (like myself) as a company that has an innovative culture and working environment, plus an open innovation program worth looking at.

What established player am I speaking of?

Lego

And if you’re not aware of their open innovation program, it is called Lego Cuusoo.



So how could someone come in and realistically challenge Lego?

By coming in with a building toy approach that is both Lego compatible but while simultaneously introducing new design and building capabilities.

The main thing that this new competitor is bringing to bear to compete with the dominant Lego, is motion.

Think about what would happen if you smashed together the basic tenets of Lego with the basic tenets of Hasbro’s Transformers (more than meets the eye), and you’ll start to get an idea of what this new competitor is bringing to their crashing of the Lego party.

Who is this Lego competitor?

They are called Ionix Bricks.

Ionix Bricks - Innovation in Motion

They launched into the marketplace with a Saturday morning cartoon called Tenkai Knights on the Cartoon network.



Here is a video review of some of the initial robot characters, showing how they transform and can be configured and played with:



At first glance they look pretty fun!

Will they catch on and take some of the building toy market away from Lego?

What do you think?

Personally, I think that they have a chance of doing so, and if nothing else I think that Ionix Bricks and the Tenkai Knights are a good reminder that even in categories that people might think are pretty mature and the dominant player is unlikely to be disrupted, that isn’t necessarily the case.

And if you get bored with the pieces that come in any of the Tenkai Knights building sets?

Well, because they are compatible with Lego and other leading building sets, you can attach all kinds of crazy, random Lego pieces that you might already have from castle, space, or other kinds of sets.

Ionix Bricks are a good example of the “C” from SCAMPER – Combine – as they are exactly the kind of outcome you would expect if you combined Legos with Transformers. I wonder what kind of other crazy toys some young toy designer out there could come up with by combining Legos with something else.

In the meantime, I challenge you to keep challenging your own orthodoxies about what your product or service should look like, and how your industry should operate. You never know what kind of crazy new potential innovation you might come up with if you never take your product or service as perfected and keep challenging things at the edges.

What things about your product or service could you challenge? How could SCAMPER or other ideation tools help you?

I will be at the Back End of Innovation conference (November 18-20, 2013) in Silicon Valley. I hope you’ll join me!

(Save 25% with code BEI13IX)


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The Importance of Play to Innovation

A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults – and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.

Pascal Wattiaux (whom I met after writing the Gever Tulley article) recommended an article on play from the Brick Journal, Issue 6. The article recounts an adventure in the Middle East with LEGO’s Serious Play – a consulting method, pioneered by LEGO, that centers on play. The article highlights four Serious Play consulting companies coming together to work with the 300 incoming graduate students for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. Here is an excerpt:

LEGO Serious Play“The community building began with the students placed into teams and, led by Jens Hoffmann of Strategic Play, proceeded with the team members building LEGO models to represent themselves, their ideal teammate and what each individual would contribute to their team during the two day workshop. From there, the teams created a group model, with the team members building and writing about how their community could service society. While the models were challenging to think about, the students all were creative in their models and bonded while building the group model, with groups getting more and more animated in their discussions and building. Building was punctuated by comments and laughs as teams built different models and items. With a common goal, the teams began to bond, regardless of language and culture, and by the end of the day, each table had a shared model, a shared language and shared view of the world.”

So not only does play help to create happy, smart adults but it helps to create stronger emotional bonds and collaboration among team members. This second excerpt highlights the learnings from the two-day LEGO Serious Play workshop:

Importance of Play to Innovation“Afterwards, there was a final session devoted to evaluating the lessons learned. Bashar Al Safadi of Omniegypt was the host of this session, where the teams discussed what they learned from all of their activities. From their discussions, the top points were determined and presented to all of the teams. And through all the differences the students had when they first met, they found they had a lot in common – and they all had learned to communicate and have fun with each other.

After the session ended, many of the students took pictures with their new classmates and now friends, but one team took some of the ping-pong balls they used and signed them as a group, as a keepsake of their first meeting. At Discover KAUST, the students discovered more than a college. They discovered a community.”

You may have heard the saying “The family that plays together stays together.” Well, there is everything to be said for finding a place for play in the workplace (especially if it increases employee engagement and innovation), but can managers accept that?

What do you think?

Image Credits: KAUST, LEGO Serious Play

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