6 years, 10 months ago

You can make anything out of LEGO™

The Museu Nacional d’art de Catalunya is one of the most impressive museums in all of Barcelona. Not only because of its impressive collection of late medieval art, also because of the majestic location: the Palau Nacional is an Italian styled palace with large staircases, fountains etcetera. Unfortunately, part of the balustrade of one of the staircases has crumbled and fallen apart. Guess what was used to fix it…

As many of us have experienced when we were younger, pretty much anything can be made out of LEGO™ bricks. Generation after generation has been inspired to build impressive buildings, vehicles, landscapes and so on.





Using LEGO

Part of the appeal, no doubt, is the fact that these LEGO bricks have become so universal and maximize creative re-use: everything fits with everything else, and the only limit on what can be built is your own imagination. As the following examples show, some people take this to the extreme:

There are many ways to go about being creative with LEGO’s. Some of us rely on the instruction manual and build things exactly as designed. For budding architects, however, the fun is in thinking outside the box.

LEGO and Enterprise Architecture

Many enterprise architects face similar challenges, albeit on a different scale. Here the trick is not to combine brightly colored LEGO’s, but to figure out an effective combination of processes, data, and systems to achieve the goals of the enterprise. Aspects such as “standardization” and “integration” also play an important role in this case as described by (Ross et al., 2006):

Process standardization has the advantage of efficiency: doing the same things in similar ways across the enterprise. Similarly, process integration – typically through data – has the advantage of using a single view of the world which can be used to build a unique offering for customers. Of course, some people want both…

The operating model gives enterprise architects the option to set a course for the enterprise in terms of (requirements for) integration and standardization in the context of the goals of the enterprise.

Some food for thought: with LEGO’s there seems to be a natural progression to go from “build as specified” to “experiment”. What does that mean for enterprise architects? Can we expect more (agile) architectures, loosely based on some form of blueprint in ArchiMate?
And what does that tell us about the future of our enterprises?

Challenges for the LEGO company

Recently, a lot has been written about the (change in) strategy for LEGO (e.g. here and here). Where the success of LEGO initially came from standardization of bricks and the way they interconnect, it seems that an interesting change of direction was required: differentiation. By offering customers more choice (e.g. the movie-related theme, the ninjago theme) as well as leverage the digital revolution (with e.g. iPad apps), the brand managed to spark the imagination of a large customer base. 

The question, of course, is: what’s next? Here are two tips / things to consider:

  1. Get the attention of the business market: a lot of organizations have discovered that ‘serious gaming’ is ‘serious business’. We see a lot of organizations experiment with simulation sessions which could be an ideal audience.
  2. Impressionist LEGO: rather than delivering a complete and detailed LEGO-blueprint, give each customer a kit with bricks as well as a diagram in “impressionist style”. Perhaps this can be combined with a competition: who builds the coolest structure, given the content of the box?

If you have questions, or other thoughts about the use of LEGO: drop me a note at b.vangils@bizzdesign.com , or leave a comment below. Thanks!