Jrgen Vig Knudstorp on the Open Sourcing of Lego

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Q & A with the CEO of Lego

URL = http://www.monoclemagazine.com/business/q_and_a_with_the_ceo_of_lego.php

The restructuring of Lego, and what it means to open source a design process.


"Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christiansen, Lego started life in the wooden toy business. Derived from the Danish words 'leg' (play) and 'godt' (well), the company's play-well concept has turned Lego into one of the most recognised premium toy brands in the world, and one of Denmark's most iconic companies. An assault from the electronic gaming industry and evaporating play time in Lego's key age groups means that both Lego and its competitors are having a tough time on shop shelves.

Monocle Editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé talks to Lego CEO, Jrgen Vig Knudstorp, at the company's innovation centre in Billund, Denmark."


From a blog post at http://www.10zenmonkeys.com/2007/02/27/when-lego-goes-to-war/

"A related trend is the rapid phase-in and phase-out of kits. Lego’s goal seems to be to whet the appetites of collectors by producing hosts of special kits, and then promptly discontinuing them. This is frustrating when a particularly well-done or interesting kit suddenly becomes unavailable.

3. Specialized and decorative elements

Part of the beauty of Lego was that you could keep adding to your collection of generic interchangeable elements, to build larger and more complex projects. We’ve seen a trend towards specialized decorative elements, likely as a result of movie and TV tie-ins. We’ve seen Lego move to smaller elements — perhaps in an effort to save money by using less plastic. In any case, any retail Lego collection fills rapidly with gobs of sorta-useable decorative elements. It’s a far cry from the construction kits of the past.

4. They moved their manufacturing

I admit I am biased, and I understand that because of globalized production, the world is flat. Yet, there was a romance with Lego. They were made in Denmark. (Though some bricks were produced in the United States.) Now they have moved manufacturing to Eastern Europe and China. This undoubtedly saves them money, but it destroys some of the romance. What’s the difference between a knock-off brick made in China and a Lego brick made in China? Lego even let many of their U.S. developers go! There was the “farmhouse” — in Connecticut I think — where Lego geniuses planned new kits and themes. They were all let go. It makes me wonder if the pseudo-move to open source is really a way to keep overhead down by not having any developers on hand.

Lego still has a variety of wonderful kits and themes. The RCX/NXT trends are awesome! That said, they are a shadow of the fantastic constructive elements I worked with a decade ago.

There was a day when other constructive toys were not even in the same league with Legos as a tool for education. Lego has debased, diluted, and devalued their product to such an extent that other constructive toys are becoming far more attractive." (http://www.10zenmonkeys.com/2007/02/27/when-lego-goes-to-war/)