What are the “building blocks” for successful crowd sourcing?

Ken Lupton    October 19, 2015

Organization Name: Lego

Industry:  Toy Manufacturing

CEO:  Jorgen Vig Knudstorp

Web references:  LEGO IDEAS, YouTube, Lego , FaceBook, Twitter,


About Lego

The Lego Group based in Billund, Denmark is owned by the Kirk Kristionsen family and was founded in 1932.  Focused on the developing the creativity of children through learning and playing, it is one of the worlds largest manufacturer of play materials, toys for children in over 130 countries.  In 2012 it overtook Hasbro and became the second-largest toy manufacturer in the world.

the-history-of-the-lego-group-in-one-slide-4-638With revenue of $2.03 billion in the first half  of 2015 and a profit of $273 million, Lego was easily on of the Top 10 most innovative companies of 2015 in Advertising and Marketing.  There are now more then 100 LEGO bricks for every person on the planet.

Source: Fast Company.

In an interview on the Larry Fedoruk Show,

Larry interviews Amanda Santoro, (@ramanda76) Brand Relations at LEGO Systems, IncAmanda talks with Larry about new Simpsons LEGO figures.

Amanda regularly tweets and retweets about LEGO and the brand.  Here is one example of one of Amanda’s retweets from the San Fransisco Giants.  What an amazing LEGO build!

I am sure that anyone reading this has played and built something cool with Lego at some point in their life but, how many have actually gone to the next level and gotten involved with Mindstorms?

Lego’s crowdsourcing project, mindstorms is a tool kit to create robots using a computer brain called the Brick.  In 1988, the “intelligent brick” was created by The Lego Group and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, bringing Lego creation to life.  This led to the a global community of users from all ages over the last 15 years.  Since 1998, the Lego Mindstorms tool set has become the best-selling product for Lego Group and has sparked the launch of First Lego League.  It is a robotics competition for middle school students.

ev3brickThe latest and most current brick is called the EV3 and was launched worldwide in September 2013.  It is the control center and power station for the robots.

InTheBox_Bricks_LandscapeUsing Lego Bricks and color, touch, remote infrared beacon and motors, the creative possibilities are endless.  Helping to  combine the LEGO building system with technology to create and command robots to walk, talk and do everything that you can imagine.  You can control your robots with the remote control or you can download the free app and use your smart device.


The role of a Mindstorm Community Advocate is to volunteer their time, support LEGO, and help to influence current and future products.  Every 2 weeks they meet with the LEGO Community Manager that works for LEGO to discuss plans for more customer engagement.

There are many things that this community is working on to promote the LEGO brand.  Customers are responsible for innovations and an amazing example of this comes from a 7th grader, Shubham Banerjee.  This young innovator created a braille printer for a school science fair.  A commercial version of the low cost braille printer was later developed with funding help from Intel.

Source: The Everyday Innovator

LEGO is very active on social media with regular posts on many different social media tools such as Vine, Instagram, Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube.  Social media networks help people connect with old friends and also connect with new friends while sharing fresh content and ideas.  With more than 10.6 million FaceBook likes, 300k Twitter followers and 1 million YouTube subscribers, You can see exactly how active LEGO is on social media.  They are now masters of leveraging social media for product innovation, this concept is still relatively new to most.

cocreation3The co-creation approach is taking over large organizations and changing how they innovate.  LEGO is one of the pioneers of co-creation with many successful initiatives like the aforementioned LEGO Mindstorms, Design By MeCuusoo, LEGO Architecture and the latest LEGO IDEAS.  Asking customers to submit new innovative ideas for LEGO sets by using an online platform to get 10,000 supporters for the idea.  This is an amazing form of market research which informs LEGO of the popularity of a product before they even decide to produce it, resulting in a low risk product launch.  If the inventor’s idea is chosen, LEGO offers 1% of the total net sales of any product, movie, game or TV show that results.

Customers that have new and innovative ideas with LEGO sets that they would like to share with the hope that it may lead to the release as a future LEGO product, can visit LEGO IDEAS and submit their LEGO ideas.  Already, 2 of the highest selling new products were produced this way.

How it works:

  1. Have an idea for a new LEGO set.  Acceptable Project Content
  2. Submit your idea on LEGO IDEAS.  Quality tips
  3. Get 10,000 votes to enter the LEGO review phase.
  4. LEGO review board evaluates and decides which product will become the next LEGO product.
  5. Receive prizes, rewards and a % of the product’s sales

Project Guidlines and House Rules

Don’t already have a super awesome innovative idea?  LEGO makes it easy for you with many creator designer tips!

Lego is a very unique company.  Developing modular construction products as a platform for other people’s creativity.  They gain devotion and loyalty from it’s costumers and LEGO has mastered data collection process as well as delivering on promises.

The Struggles of a strong campaign

There are some difficulties of running successful campaigns and creating demand.  The over all strategy needs to have plan to match production and distribution.  According to the Globe and Mail, LEGO may actually run short of bricks before Christmas.  There will be many disappointed young boys and girls this year on Christmas morning.  There may even be some disappointed adults.  The LEGO factory is running at max speed and may still fall well short of the toy European toy stores demand.

Lego spokesman, Roar Trangbaek told Reuters, “We will not be able to deliver all of the orders coming from customers in the remainder of the year”.  “It is really extraordinary and it has exceeded both ours and our customers’ forecasts”.  “We are running our factories at maximum capacity and will do everything we can to meet demand,” said Mr. Trangbaek.

With factories in Denmark, Hungary, Czech Republic and Mexico, Lego is building a factory in Jiaxing, China to produce the toys for Asia.

source: Globe and Mail

Lessons:  If you want to be successful with crowdsourcing, you need to master social media and all it’s tools.  Companies are more likely to succeed by aligning strategic product development with social innovation initiatives.  Pose relevant questions and collect the data and finally, do something with the ideas and feedback.  Companies should have the resources to implement a strategic plan fulfill the demand after it is created.

Submitted By: Ken Lupton

To contact the author of this entry please email at: k2lupton@uwaterloo.ca

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.