‘Okay lads’, says LEGO CEO and son of the founder Godtfred Christiansen, ‘it’s time to think bigger. What if we expanded LEGO into the professional market?’
If we were a fly on the wall at the LEGO headquarters in Billund Denmark we would be a very confused fly.
What’s gotten into GKC, as he was known to the employees, we’d wonder? This is the man who pestered his dad to focus. This is the man who exported LEGO first to Germany, then the other Nordic countries. This is the man with one focus: expand the LEGO system of play.
‘Think bigger!’, we return to the conference room, ‘Our new Scale Model Line will be used by engineers and architects to build bridges, stadiums, and great landmarks. The kid next door will grow up playing with LEGO and become an adult who designs their own home with this new line! Imagine that lads’.
Goodbye focus. Hello LEGO as an architect’s tool. Launched in 1962, the Scale Model Line was made to replace the paper and pencil work of engineers and architects with LEGO bricks.
By 1965 GKC ended the project. It never clicked.
But it helped.
The Scale Model Line had smaller pieces. If these were tools they needed the fidelity of reality. No one at LEGO had thought about making smaller pieces until the failure of the new line, but the one-third size pieces remain common in sets today.
Mistakes are clear in hindsight, but rarely are they total. There are lessons we use and sometimes even pieces for the next great thing.