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How Lego is inspiring the next wave of technologists

How Lego is inspiring the next wave of technologists

Lego is a great example that teaching STEM concepts is not complicated.

As a technologist, what I find most exciting is Lego’s gallant push for children to embrace the world of tech.

For a brand facing irrelevance and near bankruptcy little more than a decade ago, Lego has taken great strides forward into the 21st century.  

No longer just about colourful bricks, the iconic brand has embraced technology and evolved into the ‘Apple of toys’ boasting a successful film franchise, TV shows and range of licensed characters to boot.

The brand itself can teach us a lot about innovation, but as a technologist what I find most exciting is Lego’s gallant push for children to embrace the world of tech.

It began with the introduction of Lego Boost in January, encouraging kids to move away from simply constructing bridges, buildings and Batman figurines and toward developing smart toys, like robots and guitars.

Related reading: David Gram of Lego: An insider’s guide to radical innovation

More recently came the launch Lego’s Women of NASA set. 

This initiative is not only aligned with Lego’s mission to become more gender inclusive, it also excites kids – and, importantly, girls - about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Lego mini figures featuring the pioneering women of NASA— astronomer and educator Nancy Grace Roman, computer scientist and entrepreneur Margaret Hamilton, astronaut, physicist and entrepreneur Sally Ride and astronaut, physician and engineer Mae Jemison. (Source: Lego)
Lego mini figures featuring the pioneering women of NASA— astronomer and educator Nancy Grace Roman, computer scientist and entrepreneur Margaret Hamilton, astronaut, physicist and entrepreneur Sally Ride and astronaut, physician and engineer Mae Jemison. (Source: Lego)

The skills learnt from taking things apart and reassembling them refines the kind of creativity and problem solving skills required for a career in fields like IT, engineering and science.

As one of the very few female CIOs, I am genuinely moved when I witness powerful brands take concerted steps toward encouraging girls into tech.

I loved playing with Lego as a child and could spend hours designing, building and creating.  As a mother of a daughter who now shares my love for Lego, I find it inspiring to see Lego work hard to shake the perception that building things is just for boys. 

While female astronauts and scientists represent a modern world, there’s a very nice synergy between the Lego of old and new. In fact, Lego is a great example that teaching STEM concepts is not complicated. 

I am genuinely moved when I witness powerful brands take concerted steps toward encouraging girls into tech.

Andrea Walsh, Isentia

For generations kids have applied these basic principles when analysing and constructing Lego masterpieces, honing their spatial skills along the way. The difference is now, in addition to building elaborate castles and towers, they’re applying coding techniques to enhance their play experience. And the impact on our kids is far greater than killing a couple of hours on a Sunday.  

Being encouraged to be creative as a kid is proven to foster the kind of out-of-the-box thinking used to solve complex problems as an adult.

A study of Michigan State University students found graduates majoring in STEM subjects are far more likely to have sustained long-term hobbies like crafts, mechanics, and electronics as a child. The skills learnt from taking things apart and reassembling them refines the kind of creativity and problem solving skills required for a career in fields like IT, engineering and science.

As Lego transforms its brand by embracing technology, it presents a nice analogy for the workplace.

As we create, build and solve problems in our working lives, technology is helping to reinstate a sense of play.

In our offices, you will often find members of our tech team experimenting in our technology innovation hub - a designated lab area for the tech team to sandpit ideas. 

I am also a huge advocate of ‘10 per cent time’ and encourage my team to allocate half day each week for the team to ideate: playing with new AI algorithms, libraries and next horizon concepts. It injects fun and fun into any project. 

For anyone missing out on being a part of one of the most exciting, challenging and exhilarating times in the world of work, perhaps it’s time to embrace technology and play.  

Being encouraged to be creative as a kid is proven to foster the kind of out-of-the-box thinking used to solve complex problems as an adult.
Being encouraged to be creative as a kid is proven to foster the kind of out-of-the-box thinking used to solve complex problems as an adult.

Andrea Walsh is CIO at Isentia. She is an experienced technology and digital solutions leader, and has led led large (100-plus) IT and digital teams in delivering high profile, multi-million dollar business outcome solutions across the Asia Pacific region. She is a supporter of FITT (Females in IT and Telecommunications), a not-for-profit network which aims to inspire women to achieve their career aspirations and potential at all levels and disciplines within ICT.

Send news tips and comments to divina_paredes@idg.co.nz and @divinap

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Tags leadershipworkforce planninginnovationstrategydiversityskills shortageCIOcareerbig dataanalyticsworkplacecreativitylegocmoCustomer ExperienceSTEM educationteam buildingSTEMchief marketing officerCDOchief digital officerwomen in technologyuser focusmodern workplaceIsentiaout of the box thinkingAndrea Walshmarktech

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