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October 31, 2014

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letter to the editor:

Using bricks made of hard work

I just finished reading “Brick by Brick: How Lego Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry” by David Robertson with Bill Breen. It tells the story of the Lego Group over the past 20 years. At the edge of bankruptcy, Lego promoted a new leader to lead the company. Jorgen Knudstorp took over and quickly adopted an odd method for repairing Lego. Instead of speaking grandly of the future, he took the opposite approach.

Adopting a pessimistic view of the future, he encouraged his employees to do the same. He felt that Lego’s problems stemmed from overconfidence. Knudstorp’s goal was to show the employees that the failure of the company was a very real possibility. Only hard work, hard decisions and determination would save the company.

The story strikes me as similar to the situation our nation faces. We have gotten sucked into the same thinking that plagued Lego. We are all aware of numerous issues facing our country — ask any person you see and you will receive a laundry list of problems. While no one is short on problems, everyone is short on solutions, and if we do have a solution we like, very few people will do anything about it. Instead, we just continue on the same course, believing that everything will work out.

Just as at Lego, we have expanded in too many directions and lost sight of the core reason we are so successful. We must look at the world clearly and see that the decisions that have doomed so many counties before us are being repeated here today.

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