As I am learning, experimenting and playing around Lean Startups, Design thinking and Innovation, this book Brick by Brick, How LEGO rewrote the rules of innovation and conquered the toy industry provided additional evidence to support my thinking around innovation and creativity.
I have just finished couple of chapters in this book, and I could feel the energy LEGO stakeholders have invested to make this a great company. LEGO started as a small and family owned business in a remote European town. They were happy with a set number of toys they were selling in Europe and were leading a happy go lucky life. However, one day they realized that their survival is at stake as the world is changing fast. Sometime during 2003-4, a highly successful company was on the verge of going bankrupt. The leaders were determined to rescue it and seriously looked at enabling innovation for survival.
They religiously followed all the key principles of innovation, and one thing which made a positive difference is about the diversity. LEGO used to be a purely European owned and confined to Europe. To enable diversity, they opened branches in several other countries in the world, and hired people from diverse backgrounds.
Diversity key for innovation
I can’t stress enough, diversity in thinking is critical for innovation. Most companies ignore diversity, and look at purely technical skills while hiring employees into organization. Here is how the requirement for any project looks like:
C++ and Java expertise – minimum 5 years experience (in depth knowledge)
Windows development expertise
Unix (Solaris/Linux) development expertise
Scripting languages such as Python, Perl or Shell scripts
TCP/IP client-server development experience
SQL commands and database knowledge
Ability to work independently and multi task in demanding, time-critical environment
Excellent communication skills
I have read somewhere that many innovative companies, including Google hire people with background from Mathematics, Biology, etc. Diversity in thinking is highly essential for innovation.
Let me ask you before I end this post, Do you have diverse thinking people in your team ?