I write this blog piece on the backdrop of COVID-19 and the recent events in the US. I am overwhelmed with both gratitude for the company that I work with and the country I live in as well as horrified by the history of tragic events not just from the recent past but from centuries of wrong doings. I am still reflecting and thinking back on my own past – was I inclusive, did I stand up and work for equality? Hopefully, I can share my reflections when we meet in Vienna in October. In this blog I will provide a short prelude on the LEGO® HR Modernization Journey focusing on one of the key dilemmas that we currently struggle to solve.

Understanding the context

LEGO® is, comparatively speaking, an old company. The company was founded, is owned, and managed at board level by a family which has instilled strong values and culture at LEGO®. From the invention of the LEGO® Brick in the 1950s the company began a growth journey which only began to ease by the late 1990s and then came to a halt during 2003-2004.

A major turn-around was carried out including restructuring the business, lay-offs and sell-off of assets like LEGOLAND® Parks. Focus went from a diversified product strategy to the Brick, again, being the centerpiece of all product development. Supporting this, most investment went into partnership deals, quicker product development cycles and heavy marketing spend.

The actions lead to double-digit growth from 2005-2016 but then eased leading to operational efficiencies being reaped through lay-offs and organizational restructuring. A new CEO and newly appointed CPO came into play during 2017 and the following year was spend reflecting on the “success formula” of the LEGO® Group.

Creating the Future

For People Operations & Development (HR) at LEGO® the reflection lead to a new direction setting and the initiation of the HR Modernization Journey addressing the entire HR platform; people, processes, policies and systems while also delivering on key initiatives to the business including our mission “To inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow” promoting the development of children through playful learning giving them the best possibilities to become creative problem solvers and fulfill their potential.

To do so, the LEGO® Group must be able to attract, develop and retain current and future employees who share this purpose and commit to delivering our mission. However, till 2019, we did not have the direction setting, commitment and platform to do so. This has now changed, and we are going heads-on to catch-up and build the PO&D platform to deliver on this.

For us, fundamentally, that means discussing and finding our own way, in German Auseinandersetzung, firstly over the extent to which we want to utilize the many new tools and data available and presented to us in our Modernization Journey. Secondly, going to the cloud means standardizing processes.

The context for the first point is that the LEGO® Group is in the process of a culture development initiative through our Leadership Playground project aiming at engaging and creating the space for employees and leaders to take on increased accountability and experimentation as the new norm. Furthermore, we are intensely discussing moving away from performance and potential ratings in favor of qualitatively better dialogues between people leaders and employees.

On the other side, we also want to have more people data and insights available to effectively deliver on our PO&D strategy, on various LEGO® initiatives and on our Diversity & Inclusion plans as well as how we develop and promote employees.

So far, we have landed at a position of enabling data-informed decision-making. This also means that when we currently review our processes, we spend the right time to agree on where we want to go. Key part in our considerations quite naturally rests with assessing and discussion our people leader’s ability to work with data as support to guide their conversations and/or decisions as to avoid any laid-back and knee-jerk decision making solely based on data.

The second point is equally challenging. The cloud solution provides transparency, standardized and better practices as well as continuous development of the solution. This taps into several agendas on data quality, transparency, privacy, and compliance as well as providing similar experiences to our different target segments and an ability to scale and support international expansion.

Cloud solutions, albeit packaged in different colors and with modest differences in number of process steps and approval flows, are very similar and implies convergence among the cloud customers. Hence, the LEGO® Group loses some of its uniqueness at least when it comes to core HR processes.

This, as with the first point leads back to our people leaders and their ability to deliver on our People Promise and provide the intended experience when engaging with candidates and employees which goes above merely providing a system-backed better practice. It will take time to prepare our leaders not just on the new system and processes but also on how they live it out. Fortunately, the systems part of our HR Modernization Journey, rolling-out Workday, has been extended due to COVID-19 giving us a little more time to discuss, decide and roll-out.

I look forward to sharing more light on our situation when presenting in Vienna and would be curious to hear your perspective on thomas.moeller.lybaek@LEGO.com