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The Lego Movie is a Perfect Parable for Modern Business Collaboration

The Lego Movie, which I saw this weekend, is an extremely-fine film for adults as well as kids. Besides its humor and awesome animation, critics have hailed the story’s clever satire of the Hollywood summer blockbuster, giving it a 95% Freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes (higher than Oscar locks such as American Hustle, Her and Captain Philips).

We all write what we know, of course. For me, The Lego Movie offered valuable lessons about collaboration in the 21st century.

(Warning: some mild spoilers ahead)

At first glance, the movie might appear to be simply anti-collaboration. The main character, Emmet, is a construction worker in a mindlessly-conformist Lego world. ”Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you’re part of the team,” goes the peppy Eurodance tune that plays ubiquitously. Like everything else, it’s mandated by the bad guy, President Business, who controls Emmet’s world through a mixture of fear and brainwashing.

lord business photo

The bad guy, ‘Lord Business’ voiced by comedian Will Ferrell, isn’t so bad as he is misguided about collaboration. And he comes around in the end.

Credit: TheLegoMovie.com

To (literally) cement his already-absolute grip, President (actually, Lord) Business plans to ”UNLEASH THE KRAGLE!” (actually, KRAzy GlUE) to lock every Lego mini-fig like Emmet into place, never to be taken apart, moved or rebuilt again. If you know anything about serious Lego culture today, you know that there’s a raging debate between those who build massive sets such as the Lego Taj Mahal (5,922 pieces) together by painstakingly following the instructions and then glue their sets together to preserve their hard work, and those who prefer to create (and recreate) structures and ships using pieces from many different sets.

It’s the war between conservatives and liberals, between architects who demolish to build from scratch and preservationists who refer to rehabilate old buildings, between tyrannical perfection and messy creativity, etc.

The Lego Movie doesn’t come down dogmatically on either side. While the good guys are the Lego characters fighting for the right to mix and match pieces, we also see that their overly-rugged individualism is why they’ve lost battle after battle to Lord Business. This is epitomized by the Batman Lego character, who admits in a speech that his go-it-alone ways have hurt the anti-Business rebels and alienated his girlfriend, the heroine WyldStyle (not a DJ).

At the same time, the hero Emmet shows how teamwork, conforming (somewhat) and sacrificing oneself for the greater team/cause, can lead to eventual victory. And that victory comes from convincing the bad guy, Lord Business, to basically chill out, and accept a little chaos and creativity into his world.

These are great lessons for most businesses today. Sure, letting your employees bring in their own mobile devices (BYOD) is awesome, but if not managed properly, it can create security risks and  cost your company time and money. Sure, bureaucracy is a dirty word, but unless you’re a one-person startup, establishing processes, agreeing on tools, and ensuring different groups communicate and collaborate will actually be key to your success. Sure, we all idolize the creativity of the individual, but if it is in the wrong context, or unknown to the rest of the company, it’s useless or can even hurt an organization.

Anyway, I highly recommend the Lego Movie. It’ll entertain you and your kids and also reinforce some good business practices in a non-preachy way.

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Avaya tries to encourage this blended, agile collaboration in our own products, such as the newly-announced Avaya IP Office Contact Center. This brings a powerful customer care solution to small and midsized businesses who prefer the ease-of-use and manageability of a suite approach (Avaya IP Office is a fast-growing communications software that boasts 12 million users). “We are positive on Avaya’s introduction of IP Office Contact Center to meet the needs of small and midsize businesses for a contact center requiring up to 100 agents,” wrote Ken Landoline, an analyst with Current Analysis.

“Avaya IP Office Contact Center enables us to offer new and existing IP Office customers a comprehensive feature set at an affordable price. With just a few part numbers it is simple to configure and installs quickly and easily. Now our customers are able to serve their customers – faster, efficiently and affordably,” Craig Allan, COO at Mountain West Telecom, an Avaya partner, told Call Center Info.

Our announcement garnered more than 52 press reports, including:

CRN

Network World

Channel Partners Online

Smart Customer Service

 

Eric Lai is a former Editorial Director at Avaya. He joined Avaya in Nov 2012 from SAP, where his enterprise mobility blog attracted more than 100,000 readers a month and was awarded Top Corporate Blog by BtoB Magazine. Prior to SAP, Eric was a technology editor and reporter for a decade and a half in Asia and the U.S. He now at Blackberry. Follow him on Twitter @ericylai. more

2 comments
ericylai
ericylai

If the IRS auditors come after you, please call me as a defense witness :)

blairplez
blairplez

@Avaya so can i deduct the cost of my movie ticket for TheLegoMovie as a business expense?