“One of the things people often overlook is the massive system integration and to what degree the LEGO group is actually an IT-driven company as much as a brand driven company.”
Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO
“Radical is the new normal. Lifecycles are getting shorter and shorter. There’s no time to catch up. All companies need to experiment and understand these things.”
David Gram, LEGO
LEGO blocks are more than just a tool beloved by agile scrum masters – they are the product of a company that has embraced a scaled agile framework. Back in 2014, the LEGO Group kickstarted the transition towards a SAFe working model within its Digital Solutions department with the goal of building what the company termed the ‘Land of Awesome’. By transitioning to this collaborative way of working, LEGO has kept pace with children’s demands for digital products including video games and online communities. Adopting a fresh approach to delivery allowed the company to adapt where other toy manufacturers fell behind.
A deep dive into the LEGO story reveals how the company successfully scaled an agile framework. Exploring this journey highlights that the key to an agile transformation lies in the mindsets, beliefs, and actions of the people at the heart of an organisation. In short, LEGO’s journey provides a blueprint of adaptive delivery for companies by highlighting the importance of culture in scaling agility. It showcases how the key to embedding an agile framework is teaching people firstly what an agile mindset truly is, and secondly how it can be embedded into their day-to-day operations.
Below I explore the step-by-step approach LEGO used to shift their working model in order to clarify crucial lessons for consultant looking to navigate digital projects in the financial services space. Like their counterparts in other industries, many financial services firm are facing the challenge of adapting or potentially becoming extinct. Taking note of how other industries have successful scaled agile therefore offers invaluable lessons for the modern financial services consultant.
Before diving into LEGO’s agile journey, it is useful to consider why the company had to alter its ways of working:
Following the success of the Digital Solutions team’s transition,CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp announced an end to digital strategies, proposing a unified agile approach across LEGO as a vehicle to innovate in the digital world. Scaling agile, he argued, would result in three key benefits: streamlining decision-making; forging a direction for future development; and producing a global collaborative culture.
In the years since the LEGO Group’s commitment to scaling agility, the company has blossomed into a truly agile business and become a blueprint for success. LEGO continue to champion continuous learning to inject an agile philosophy into their company culture by employing a team of agile specialists worldwide, who ensure the company stays committed to genuine agility. LEGO’s blueprint can be summarised by three key lessons learnt:
By being adaptable, thorough, and direct in their approach to agility, LEGO evolved and secured their ongoing success as a digital toy manufacturer.
Like LEGO, Capco seeks to disrupt the fabric of organisations. Learning from companies like LEGO provides a blueprint for embedding agile from the ground-up. Lessons learnt from LEGO include adopting a flexible and bold working model, embedding an agile culture, and pursuing a clear vision. These tips offer perspective to those of us within financial services who must wrestle with the challenges faced by the increasing digitisation of products and companies. In response, we must choose to adapt.