What We Can Learn From The Lego Movie

the_lego_movie_posterThe 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.” 

Posted in Posted in Entrepreneurship  |  3 Comments

3 thoughts on “What We Can Learn From The Lego Movie”

  1. David Great observations, and well-timed, as I just experienced the movie yesterday afternoon with some of my grandkids. The irony in your comments relates to the “Everything is Awesome” theme song. Without detracting from value of team unity, remember that the “Everything is Awesome” theme song was that of the “Collective” controlled by President Business – essentially touting the values of towing the line, adhering blindly to instructions and not stepping out of bounds. The corollary is that “awesomeness” is destroyed by independent thought, including a use of the Lego blocks in a manner inconsistent with the illustrated instructions. Emmet ultimately exited from the naive role of a blind adherent to the party line and found the true meaning of awesome: Team support for innovation and creativity. Bottom line: Totalitarianism is not “awesome” as it purports to be, in either a business or geopolitical environment. It “sucks” at its foundation and is ultimately doomed to fail, once its victims are stripped of their fear of creativity and begin to act on their inherent sense of independence.

  2. I heard some great comments on the BBC yesterday about the Lego Movie. Blowing away the successes of many of the large studios. Could Lego be moving into the entertainment industry model. They have an incrediable brand story. The Lego Movie is the latest big-budget incarnation of one of the world’s most popular toys. Yet Lego is more than a global brand. It has a fascinating relationship with architecture, and argues that it has changed the way we think about buildings. Lego’s plastic yellow bricks were launched in the 50s, and resonated with new visions of rebuilding society – with ethical, imaginative children’s play at its heart. Many artists and architects have been reared on Lego, who are using it to reimagine our cities today, from Bjarke Ingels, 39, the leading architect of his generation, to international artist Olafur Eliasson whose Collectivity project took three tonnes of Lego to the citizens of Tirana, Albania. But with Hollywood franchises and huge expansion, has Lego lost its original ethos of creativity and construction? It will be interesting to see Lego’s successors and at how cult computer game Minecraft may be set to transform the cities of the future.

  3. Always seek out “people with intense passions, people who had interesting hobbies, people whom others considered quirky!” Get things done and have fun.

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