Lessons from Lego



Over Christmas there was an interesting programme on the story of Lego which looked at the history of the company and how it has evolved over 80+ years.  In some instances there was a planned strategy and in others, decisions made almost cost them the business.

So what can be learned from their story?

1932 – Lego was ahead of the curve with other toys of the time and since in being able to provide inventive play using bricks that could be used in a multitude of ways =  Excel in your core business and have a good base product

1962 – The introduction of the rubberised “wheel” meant that suddenly the possibility of building something that moved opened up a whole new option for inventive play – and left its competitors who had static playbricks were left standing, literally! = Keep evolving

1969 –  the launch of Duplo – the lego brick for the younger generation who were able to engage with the product at an early age and by the time they graduated to the smaller bricks, were loyal customers = build on your customer base

1975 – English becomes the official Corporate language – a sensible move as this year saw the American procurement market established = do what’s right for your business particularly in long term planning

1977 – Lego Technic – for the loyal older customer who wanted a challenge for more complex builds = evolve, build on your customer base, do what’s right in the long term…..oh wait, haven’t we heard this before?

1982 – Celebrating 50 years of business with all staff =  recognising your valuable assets and making your teams feel valued and part of the business.

1996 – Legoland Windsor opens = moving into new markets and expansion

1998 – New brand statement – “Just Imagine” = don’t get stuck in a rut and grasp opportunities to adapt and flex your message

2000 – in talks with Steven Spielberg about a Lego Film – BUT also posts a DKK 1 Billion deficit – something needs to be done to halt the financial slide! = Not everyone gets it right all the time. Be brave and tackle the root cause of the problems

2004 – Jørgen Vig Knudstorp as new CEO of the company – the first CEO not to be a member of the family =   The ability to look take a long hard look at what’s not going right and put in place corrective measures.  How hard must that conversation have been with family members?

2005 – The new CEO implements a 5 year strategy plan – undoubtedly difficult decisions and meetings to be held to halt the slide and re-focus on what is great about the company and return to its roots of first class imaginative play for all ages = What is the core business?

2005/6 – The LEGOLAND parks are sold to Merlin Entertainments. The parent company of the LEGO Group – KIRKBI – buys a share of Merlin Entertainments. Today KIRKBI owns approx. one third of Merlin. The LEGO Group posts a profit again. The company is back on track = Difficult decisions aren’t the end of the world

2013 – The strong growth continues and the LEGO Group presents very satisfactory annual results. In less than10 years, the company has quadrupled its revenue = you need to allow time for changes to be implemented and take effect.  Knee-jerk solutions are not solutions!

2016 – planned changes in leadership succession planning is in place and starts to take effect =  succession planning for all roles is essential to provide a stable and smooth transition helps to ease the organisation and market worries about change.

If you would like to discuss any support for staff development as part of your strategy, Key account management for those valued customers, help with the finances, team building, or any other lessons from LEGO, please do contact us and Keith will be delighted to come out and have a chat about how Athelbrae can help.  01892 832059 or email kate@athelbrae.co.uk or keith@athelbrae.co.uk




Julia is busy today with Tenterden client and their new team on Customer Service Excellence.

Great to see lots of ideas coming out and focusing on how to ensure that they stand out from their competition.

And the reason for the toys – people all learn differently and some find the process of “fiddling” with things really helps to get the creative juices flowing.

Course notes and manuals are all available, but important to remember that there are those who find pictures get the message across,  so great that Julia can draw!

Attention, Impact & Understanding



How often do you find yourself watching a TV programme or listening to a radio broadcast and not really engaging with the content?  There are certain programmes that you DEFINITELY tune yourself into – for me, it’s anything historical, animal/environmental related or cookery.  Poldark, Blue Planet II, White Princess or Bake Off and the tablet and phone are left to one side and an enthusiastic hour or two of escapism and interest is driving the agenda.

However, there are other programmes and series that sometimes are just “background noise”.  TV soaps, First Dates,  Eastenders…all entertaining but not thought provoking.   It might be a habit to always have the Archers omnibus on a Sunday morning.  You’re listening but also having a conversation with the kids, cooking the dinner, ironing, thinking about that difficult issue at work.

Sometimes the same can be said for training.  Mandatory training events are often the ones that people disengage from because they know “they have to do it”.  But a recent conversation was had with a member of staff who had to attend Fraud training.  Yes, it was mandatory but the delivery was done in an engaging, entertaining and informative way and the delegates continued to buzz with what they’d learned for some long time afterwards, sharing the stories and what they had taken from the session.

If your staff don’t feel that the time they spend in the training room, or indeed on Webinars, online learning or distance learning isn’t either relevant to them,  they will quickly disengage and metaphorically (or in some cases actually) start looking at their tablets and phones and not engage with the discussions or the learning.

Your training provider needs to provide:-

ATTENTION – they need to get the attention of your staff from the outset.  Yes, they need to be entertaining, but the reality is,  relevant and challenging questions get people’s attention and help them to start thinking in a focused way.  There’s should be no opportunity to start thinking about “other stuff” when you’re in the training room.

IMPACT – simply put, how will this workshop/programme/training make a difference to my working day, career progression?   Everyone attending should be able to have an action plan of what they’ll implement, change or resolve as a result of the training.  If they’re struggling to identify 3 simple changes, they’ve not been engaged sufficiently to commit to the process.

UNDERSTANDING – In order to really understand the content and impact of training, full attention, commitment and willingness to learn or change needs to be part of the delegate toolbox.  They should be encouraged by the facilitator to demonstrate their understanding of what has been discussed and challenged to find methods of implementing the learning back in the workplace.

We tend to think of education as only being that which we learn in school, college or University.

But how many of us in the last week have paid attention to the impact of plastics in the oceans from watching Blue Planet II, really understanding the consequences of our throw away cultures?

We learn when we are engaged in the subject matter –  ask yourselves,  if you’re training provider is only providing an entertaining and fun day out of the office?  If  they are it’s a disservice to your business and your staff.

Resolution for 2018 – Be more Blue Planet II and less First Dates!


Testimonial – thanks so much

Delighted and thrilled to get this from a client today via email:-

“I recommend Athelbrae because you are a first class training provider, use exceptional venues, have specialists conducting the training, and have competitive pricing.”

Whilst we love what we do and we enjoy every day at work, it’s always great to know that clients feel they are getting value for money, expertise and attention to detail when working with us.

Thanks Nick, really appreciate you taking the time to write.

Thanks Leanne for another great course on assertiveness

Assertiveness is often an area that delegates struggle with – whether new or inexperienced managers, senior staff or just in general, it can be difficult to find that sweet spot between passive and aggressive.

We are delighted that the recent public course at Brandshatch Place with our trainer Leanne, was so positively received by staff from a wide range of industries and sectors.

Their ability to practise skills in the safety of the training room, receive constructive feedback from fellow attendees and the expertise of the trainer, is a powerful tool in their development and delighted to hear from their HR and Learning departments that the learning is being put to good use straight away.

Assertive open course

Don’t under-estimate the power of a good walk and fun to review your business!

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We were fortunate last week to have a few days away in the Bath area.  The autumn weather was kind and enabled us to get out and enjoy some fresh air and lovely walks – and find a Gruffolo area in Westonbirt Arboretum – see above!!

However whilst we were embracing nature, we also had the opportunity to review the year’s work, look at 2018 and plan for the coming months without the day to day distraction of office life.

Some would say this therefore wasn’t a holiday in a true sense as we took the work with us – but many small businesses know all too well that to completely absent yourself isn’t always possible.  We limit the checking of emails to once a day and in the main, are able to provide holding replies to clients.  On the rare occasion something can’t wait, we can manage it and then move on.

What the week did provide was an opportunity to really discuss the challenges and exciting new projects in the mix – to spend some time in the fresh air (or even in the hotel bar) and deliberate all the options open to us.

Many organisations are trying to arrange their meetings now  on the hoof.  Looking at different ways of working isn’t new but there is something to be said for a walk of several miles and coming back with a clear head and clear objectives about what you need to concentrate your energies on when you are back in the office.

Try it, we can recommend it is good for the soul, for the brain and ultimately for the business.

Life through a Lens – impact on our children and mental health


Whilst dog walking on a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago in Dunorlan Park, we passed a dad with his two young daughters.  The girls were excitedly attempting to manoeuvre their scooters around the lake and trying to get their dad’s attention to play.  Unfortunately his nose was buried in his phone screen and his response was “hang on, wait”.  Giving him the benefit of the doubt, we continued our stroll, only to see him 20 minutes later, with the girls unenthusiastically dragging their scooters behind him whilst he was engrossed in a conversation on said mobile.

What was sadder, was that this wasn’t the only occasion in the last few weeks we’ve seen a similar scenario.  Mums on their way back from primary with excited youngsters waiting to share the news of their day (and believe me that soon wears off); sitting in a restaurants whilst couples fail to make eye contact but busily typing on their devices telling friends on social media what a great time they’re having.

We’re all guilty of it – but there seems something particularly demoralising that we are failing to give our youngsters the one precious commodity that costs nothing – our time.

There was a piece written recently by one of our Associates, Louise, how on holiday the staggering scenery and beauty of Alaska was being viewed through an ipad screen (other devices are available) by fellow travellers.

Robbie Williams sang about “Life through a Lens” – and it seems that life is now imitating art.

When there is so much discussion around mental health and well-being, and the importance of taking time to appreciate the world around us.  In particular, when the statistics on the poor mental health of our Under 25s is sky rocketing, is there a correlation between these figures and giving our time and attention to the virtual world, rather than immersing ourselves in the real one?