Creative life: LEGO’s Julia Goldin plays at work


A LEGO minifigure of Berlin’s new mayor Franziska Giffey is pictured as she sits at her desk in the LEGO replica of the Red Town Hall in Berlin, Germany on December 21, 2021. REUTERS / Michele Tantussi

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NEW YORK, December 27 (Reuters) – If there’s one singular skill that has got us through the past two years in one piece, it’s creativity.

The LEGO Group is an organization far ahead of the creative thinking curve. Its director of product and marketing, Julia Goldin, spoke to Reuters about unlocking and developing this essential skill, not only at the C-Suite level, but across the organization.

Q: Why is creativity important for an organization?

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A: Usually people think of creativity in terms of art, theater or performance. We know from the work we have done that creativity is a much larger skill set with much broader applications.

It is essential and is becoming more essential than ever. In the workplace, creativity can be applied to problem solving, resilience, proposing ideas, evolving those ideas and finding solutions.

Q: What’s the best way to encourage creativity?

A: We use LEGO bricks not only in our training sessions, but even in our daily work. They allow teams to come together. For example, once a year we host a global “Play Day” where we bring all employees into environments where they can play, learn and connect.

Q: Can you give an example?

A: One of the things we did during COVID was to use the bricks we had at home, to build a model of our experience and our state of mind. When you do something like this it prompts you to think about what you want to communicate and how to make it tangible.

Some people’s role models showed how torn they were between working and caring for children; or whatever they liked, like gardening or cooking dinner. The bricks gave everyone the opportunity to be open about what they were going through, to create emotional bonds and stronger bonds.

Q: During COVID-19 in particular, why was it important for businesses to think outside the box?

A: Over the past couple of years, most businesses have encountered issues and challenges that could never have been predicted. Creative problem solving and flexibility have therefore become extremely important. Many changes had to take place, and quickly.

Whether it’s your influence on the environment, shortages in the supply chain, more pronounced social issues, or even taking care of your own workforce, all of these things have forced companies to be much more creative.

Q: Adults tend to be frozen in the way we think. How do you find inspiration in children?

A: We always talk about children as role models. They have a vivid imagination and a lot of flexibility. When building with LEGO bricks they can predict a lot of different outcomes, are constantly exploring, and are comfortable with things that don’t work at first.

The way to learn to walk is to fall, and children are not afraid of making mistakes. We can all learn a lot from children and apply that to the way we work ourselves.

Q: As a leader, how do you communicate these values ​​of creativity to a large organization?

A: By being very straightforward and making sure everyone, including the leaders, understands the message.

For example, when we do things in the company, we do them all. If we’ve all been given a “game box” of bricks, the leadership teams will sit down and do the exact same thing.

That way, when new people come into the organization, they understand where we’re coming from. It comes down to clear communication and consistent, frequent and hands-on learning.

Q: Since you also work in product development, do you have a favorite product?

A: It’s like asking me questions about my favorite child. I couldn’t choose one, but right now I’m building Barcelona football stadium with my two sons. They are both big fans.

I also recently worked on a grand piano; I’m a pianist myself, so it was very special. I have quite a few other big boxes waiting for me, but I’m waiting to have more time.

Q: What advice do you give other companies to encourage creativity?

A: Creativity needs to be seen in a broader sense – not just artistic ideas, but something that is important to everyone. We can all be creative in solving problems. Second, you need to create the right environment of trust and psychological safety. So people are not afraid to make mistakes. When people know they will be heard, it facilitates creativity no matter where they are in the organization.

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Editing by Lauren Young; Editing by Diane Craft

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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