The New smash hit, “The Lego Movie,” has much to teach us about business and life. The movie is filled with a plethora of metaphors that can be applied to our business endeavors. Plus – it is just a ton of fun to watch. Extremely Creative!!
Here are three powerful lessons I learned from the movie:
1. Strict adherence to rules can cause a company to sacrifice creativity. The Lego Movie sends out this message in a powerful way. Sometimes it is the irreverent, creative thinker that can make a big difference. At one point in the film, the evil “Lord Business”, a maniac trying to conquer the world who is obsessed with orderly conduct, says: “Hi, I’m President Business, . . .of the world. Let’s take extra care to follow the instructions or you’ll be put to sleep, and don’t forget Taco Tuesday’s coming next week.” Eventually, Lord Business (played by Will Ferrell) is defeated by a band of creative Master Builders that allow them to build, at a moments notice, anything they need when it is needed. Every company should celebrate its creative types. Nolan Bushnell wrote a book last year called “Finding the Next Steve Jobs” – Bushnell was one of the first people to hire Jobs at Atari and, in his book, he emphasizes the need to value and promote creative thinking within your company. As every CEO should know, to build a great company, you have to constantly be, as Bushnell did with Atari: “on the lookout for people who weren’t the sort normally hired by normal companies. We wanted people with intense passions, people who had interesting hobbies, people whom others considered quirky and maybe even anti-social.
2. Find Everyone’s unique skill set — the key figure in the movie is Emmet. As the movie producers tell us, he “is an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world.” Initially, he does not believe it, but over time he begins to see how his organizational skills combined with a hilarious degree of creativity (you have to see to appreciate his double decker couch) allows him to stop an evil tyrant. He is coached by a great leader (think of the best CEO you have ever worked with). His name is Vitruvius. He is an ancient wizard who tells people that a “Special” will be made manifest who will defeat the evil President Business. Emmet is just the man of the job. Vitruvius teaches all that will listen, including Emmet, that the key to success is to believe in yourself and follow your the set of instructions that are already in your head. At one point in the film, Emmet says this to the maniacal President of Business: “You don’t have to be the bad guy. You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe. And you are capable of amazing things. Because you are the Special. And so am I. And so is everyone.” A wise and talented CEO will understand the importance of appreciating everyone’s unique skills set in their company and will utilize those talents to create a competitive advantage for the business.
3. Everything is Awesome when you are part of a Team – This is the theme song to the movie. It is also reinforced in several ways through the success you see in the team efforts exerted in the film. Emmet, the star of the show, becomes the leader of the Master Builders which includes Legos made up to be well-known comic book characters like BatMan (the guy who does the Batman voice should get an academy award -), Superman and SuperWoman, the Green Lantern and others like the incredibly positive UniKitty (wait until you see her go off) . It is clear that before Emmet arrives to provide leadership for the team, they are all acting as self-centered individuals who are failing miserably to counteract the perverted designs of President Business. The movie and song emphasize that: “Everything is Awesome, Everything is Cool when you’re part of a team, Everything is awesome, when we’re living our dream.” Every CEO and great leader realize that Teams win in business and life. As Michael Jordan famously said: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”