It turns out McKee supplied a crucial piece of Lego's cultural intelligence.
Now Jake is gone from the company, and Lego has become an excellent example of how to be a clueless, frightened laughingstock. A 14-year-old user used Legos to create a stop-motion homage to Spinal Tap, which Spinal Tap projected in concert and wanted to include in its DVD. Lego refused to give permission. As a company spokesperson said: “…when you get into a more commercial use, that’s when we have to look into the fact that we are a trademarked brand, and we really have to control the use of our brand, and our brand values.”
Weinberger asks, "How customer unfriendly can you get? You sell us something that enables us to create what we want, and now you say you get to control what we create?" Indeed.
And it made me think how much the cultural sophistication of a corporation, in this case, its ability to create Cluetrain conversations, can depend on a single person.
In Chief Culture Officer, I use the example of Geoffrey Frost. Frost joined a Motorola in 1999. The company was in steep decline, losing billions each year. Frost found a way to launch a new handset called the Razr. Sales were projected for 2 million. By the end of 2005, Motorola had sold 20 millions. By the end of 2006, 50 million.
McCracken, Grant. 2009. Chief Culture Officer. Basic Books. To be published this December 1. Available for preorder from Amazon.com here.
Weinberger, David. 2009. Lego hops off the Cluetrain onto the tracks in front of it, wondering what that increasingly loud sound could be. Joho the Blog. August 13. here.
Thanks to Tim Sullivan for the head's up.