The LEGO Group

Founded 1932
Billund, Denmark

The LEGO Group is a leading global manufacturer of creative construction and educational toys and owner of the family parks, Legoland. Founded in 1932, the LEGO group is led by its president and third generation family member, Kjeld K. Kristiansen.

In 1949, the company introduced a primitive forerunner of what was to become the revolutionary plastic building bricks. These toy construction components were popular and represented an opportunity for significant growth. Every year, more than 100 new LEGO sets are added to the range, and around the same number are withdrawn. New elements play themes and sets result from the hundreds of ideas that come out of six product development departments in Denmark, the USA and Japan.

The globalization of the LEGO Group was nearly as systematic as the development and expansion of the product line. Beginning in neighboring Norway, distribution was expanded throughout Europe. Subsequently, captive sales companies were established around the world. All of the LEGO Group’s business activities have followed the guiding principle that it must be a good corporate citizen. The company has been recognized throughout the world for the positive contributions it has made to the development of young people.

After 15 years as President of the LEGO Group, a prolonged illness resulted in Kjeld taking an unplanned sabbatical. While Kjeld was convalescing, he realized that despite having sustained growth for more than four decades, LEGO markets were undergoing major changes due to globalization, information technology, the media revolution and related new life styles – so the approach of LEGO management would also have to change. On his return, Kjeld implemented a new management direction at the LEGO Group, aimed at changing the attitudes and behavior of employees and laying the foundation for the long-term reinvention of the company.

Best Family Business practices from the LEGO Group

  • Prudent risk taking and conservative financial management
  • Concentration and focus on full exploitation of core product line
  • Engender interest of next generation in the family business at an early age
  • Hire a non-family executive to assist with generational management transitions
  • Global expansion should begin close to home with familiar products
  • An outside, professional board stretches and challenges the CEO
  • Good corporate citizenship creates a better business environment
  • Take time for a sabbatical; it can renew and refresh the company