Posted by Bruno Aziza,
Worldwide Lead Strategist, Business Intelligence And Co-Author Of Drive Business Performance

The economic crisis has reminded business leaders that developing a great strategy is not enough. They need to execute that strategy within an organization that empowers them to make the right decisions, better and faster. Doing so requires systems that can adjust to market conditions. But most importantly, it requires that your organization’s culture is geared for performance.

On Tuesday (January 12) I’ll be talking about Developing a Culture of Performance in Retail at Retail’s Big Show, the annual National Retail Federation Conference. Henrik Amsinck, Lego Group chief information officer and VP, and I will tell Lego’s success story. It is a great story and Henrik embodies the spirit that drives the performance of this amazing company.

Every Lego employee I have talked to shares a strong passion for Lego, their products, and their customers. And we all know some of their customers can be passionate, too. Even over the phone, it’s almost as if I can ”hear” the sparkle in their eyes when they talk about the company. Lego has a strong culture of performance and it shows. In the first half of 2009 the company reported sales gains of more than 20 percent and outpaced the competition. Read a great coverage of Lego’s story published by London’s Daily Telegraph this past December here.

But Lego didn’t always have stellar results. The cultural changes they have gone through allowed them to come back strong and equip themselves to gain market share when others were struggling. How did they do it? And can your organization do the same?

There are three key aspects of Lego’s turnaround we can all learn from:

1) Commitment from the top: As we described in the book I wrote with colleague Joey Fitts, Drive Business Performance, culture changes start at the top. Lego’s leaders showed their employees the value of expecting and respecting data-driven decision-making. Now the entire company is focused on understanding what works, not guessing.

2) Focus on the basics: Too many organizations build processes, reports, and dashboards without asking basic questions about what metrics really drive the business. Lego focuses on a “language of performance” and how the company determines what should be a global standard, versus what should be defined for a particular locale. After stumbling in the 1990s and earlier in this decade, the company also re-focused on core products and core Lego fans. That in turn led to customer loyalty and growth.

3) Compete into the future: Few organizations have implemented the type of information management system Lego has across structured, unstructured, and social data. A core value of Lego’s mission is connection with their customers. However, many of their customers are boys age 6-10. How do you think they connect with them and request their feedback?

Henrik and I will spend more time talking about this great success story. If you are in New York come and join the discussion. You can send me questions in advance at Bruno.aziza@microsoft.com Even if you can’t make it to our session I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts

Hope to see you in New York!