Wharton School of Business professor David C. Robertson and former Fast Company senior editor Bill Breen have crafted an engaging, surprisingly suspenseful and intimate view of the inner workings, leadership dynamics and decision-making process of this family-owned company. Prior to joining the faculty of Wharton, Robertson spent eight years at IMD, the International Institute for Management Development, in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he was the LEGO professor, a position that afforded him unique access to the famously insular company. Brick by Brick chronicles the life of the 80-year-old company, from its founding in 1932 by Danish master carpenter and toymaker Ole Kirk Christiansen, through more than five decades of growth and profitability under his son and grandson, to its near demise in 2003, resuscitation by a new management team and its re-emergence less than five years later as a profitable and innovative company with its core values intact. Brick by Brick is a toy story that’s both a celebration of the iconic, multicolored blocks and a cautionary tale of the trouble that ensues when a company doesn’t recognize societal changes and fails to adapt to changes in the marketplace. It’s a tale well told and well worth reading, whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, manager or CEO.
By David C. Robertson, with Bill Breen
Crown Business; $26