Boaty McBoatface could have been a billion-dollar brand that re-invigorated science education, but now its epic failure is a lesson for the rest of us.
In March 2016, the British Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) decided to crowdsource the name of its new $300 million arctic explorer vessel. It hoped the public would suggest something like 'Shackleton' or 'Endeavor', but the moment someone suggested the name 'Boaty McBoatface', it went viral and shot to the top of the poll. The NERC had the right idea in harnessing the power of crowds, explains Henry Timms, executive director of the 92nd Street Y in New York, but it lacked the skills needed to pull it off. Instead of turning Boaty McBoatface into an opportunity to revive science education and merchandise Boaty, it shut the idea down, canceled the competition and named the ship 'Sir David Attenborough'. "There’s a set of very clear skills in how you go about harnessing the crowd. And you look around the world right now, any corporation, any nonprofit, any leader who wants to come out on top needs to think a lot more carefully about how they negotiate with the crowd," says Timms. Here, he shares the four key components of successful crowdsourcing and brand building, and explains how Lego used those methods to pull itself out of near-bankruptcy and up to new heights. Henry Timms is the co-author of New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World-and How to Make It Work for You
As an added bonus, these tiny building blocks could even be used to split water, creating a clean-burning and near infinite source of energy.
Picture a tub full of Lego bricks. Now imagine that tub full of Lego is the basis of life on this planet. According to researchers and scientists at Rutgers University, it turns out that analogy isn't too far off. They've been "smashing" proteins and seeing what shapes these smashed proteins fall into, and they've discovered that many fall into four distinct shapes not dissimilar to Lego building blocks.In short, most of the life on this planet owes a debt to these so-called "Legos of life" - four types of simple proteins that latch onto each other to form increasingly more complex protein structures. Just like real-life Lego blocks.
How did Lego survive a near-total financial ruin? Why is Lyft way more popular that Uber amongst drivers? And how did Marvel gain a second wind some 60 years after it was founded?
What makes certain companies succeed and others fail? Bain & Company partner Chris Zook has the answer. The answer lays mostly in the companies ability - or inability - to figure out what it's really all about. Simplicity of core values is key. For instance, Lego was facing a crisis when it over-extended itself by getting into theme parks and clothing brand territory, but managed to save itself by scaling back to just the toys. Flexibility is also important: 20 years ago Marvel wasn't selling comic books but understood that the characters were the real draw and that they could translate easily to movies and video games. Chris Zook goes on to explain what else makes a business successful, and espouses some great lessons for companies looking to stick around longer than a VC runway. Chris's latest look is The Founder's Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth.
You know what would make LEGO even better? A base tape that lets you build against gravity.
Researchers study the rise of violence in the toys sets by LEGO, the world's largest toy manufacturer.