Years Of Success Of LEGO Company

By the early 1980s, LEGO had reached such a size that neither Godtfred nor others could explain the values and positions of the LEGO culture to the ever-increasing number of employees. Thus, Kjeld Kirk hired three people with the specific task of organising a series of seminars for managers, under the name LUP (LEGO Universe Partners). The result was a management course which fostered a common understanding of the strategies, organisation, market situation and very special ideas on which LEGO was based.

The new growth continued in the 1980s, including in the United States, which, under the direction of Vagn Holck Andersen, became the largest LEGO market. Despite the outstanding accomplishment of those years, the success of LEGO had led many competitors to try to copy the bricks and also the brand. LEGU, LEGGO, EGO and the Chinese O937 (which if overturned become LEGO) were rejected by a legal office set up in a hurry within LEGO, which brought numerous lawsuits in court for infringement of the registered trademark and patent. The situation became quite embarrassing in 1984, when the American company Tyco, realizing that the patent of LEGO had expired, began to produce identical bricks, sold in buckets at a very low price. LEGO tried to take legal action, but without success. The copied products submerged the market. The attack by Tyco, however, did not have the devastating impact on sales that LEGO had feared. Over the years, thanks to the products and systematic marketing, LEGO had built up a strong image that could count on a clear superiority in production technology, which guaranteed high quality bricks. It was not difficult to see the difference from the copied products: the LEGO bricks, with their precision of a fraction of a millimetre, always combined perfectly. This helped to keep sales high. But Tyco's bricks were much cheaper, and this forced LEGO to lower its prices.

By 1994, LEGO had taken over 80 per cent of the American building games market, had 8800 employees and a turnover of nearly nine billion crowns. Now the LEGO system was sold in 60, 000 stores in over 130 countries. All over the world, hundreds of millions of children had played with the LEGO bricks, which had undoubtedly become Europe's largest toy manufacturer and one of the top five in the world, with the Americans Mattel and Hasbro in the top two places. With the difference that Mattel and Hasbro produced a wide range of toys, while LEGO remained focused on a single idea. Kjeld Kirk had managed to almost double the company's turnover, without departing from the idea basic idea. If it hadn't been for him, LEGO would have expanded the range of products, rather than going deeper into the idea itself, including collaboration with psychologists and toy experts. For example, in 1989 Seymour Papert was named LEGO Professor of Learning Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, just as LEGO Futura, the development division, opened an office near MIT. Papert had developed a pedagogical theory, which he called constructionism, according to which learning only takes place successfully if the child is committed to creating something he likes, for example a sand castle, a poem, a machine, a story, a computer program or a song. In line with this principle, Papert collaborated with LEGO on the creation of a programming language by which children could control the things they built with the LEGO elements, programming them to move and react - for example - to light.

At the end of the 90s the personal computer had entered people's homes posing a big challenge for the company. The new tool included the electronic games, which took up more and more of the children's time. So, for Kjeld Kirk, it was essential for LEGO to take a new step forward. His father was from wood to plastic, and now he was taking on the mission of raising the LEGO from the physical brick to the byte. All that remained was to understand how.

01 April 2020
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