Brick by Brick by David C. Robertson, Bill Breen

Rating: ★★★

Brick by Brick is primarily about Lego’s history with an emphasis on its crisis years in the late 1990s to early 2000s and its subsequent recovery. The story of the crisis is particularly engaging. I didn’t know just how close Lego was to bankruptcy and how incompetent its leadership was. The book’s a little disjointed, though - Robertson initially set out to write a book about "rules of innovation" with several different case studies, and it shows.

I have to emphasize just how bad the leadership was in 90s and 2000s. Lego's marketing chief at the time said that the Lego brick was the firm's "biggest limitation." And there was persistent worry that "children couldn't build anymore." Consultants "said the twenty-first century is not about little square plastic blocks. It's digital." Tons of money got dumped into vaporware and crappy sets that were designed with the assumption that kids didn't want to build. No wonder Lego almost went bust.

Brick by Brick also has some interesting discussion about adult Lego fans – apparently internally Lego thought adult fans were not worth listening to, and they discouraged direct contact. That started to change by the time the book was published in 2013, but in the past 2 years, Lego has fully embraced the adult market. I'm sure it's been lucrative.