Friday, August 15, 2014

Ideas Editorial: On the Efficacy of Past Rejections to Predict Future Rejections

One of the most popular public comments rejecting a new project is "someone else already tried this and LEGO rejected it."  In some cases this has been reinforced many times.

cough-Zelda!-cough..excuse me, I can't fathom why I just typed a cough...anyway, where was I, ah yes.

Now, of course, I am not about to write an article in which I say, that people should never apply past experience to predict future events.  History, repeating, doom, yadda yadda yadda,  that is all good stuff.  The logical fallacy we have here is that excepting for a single subject (cough-Zelda!-cough) we don't have much history to repeat on and we are not privy to the exact reasons why LEGO rejected a project at the point that it did.  


The simple and most direct response to this statement of "previous rejection reinforcement" is that LEGO Ideas has bluntly stated, repeatedly that a project being rejected in a previous review does not mean, inherently, that a similar project will be rejected in the current or future review.

There are several viable reasons why LEGO might reject a product at one point and not later down the road:
  • Conflicting licensing agreement first time around
  • LEGO came out with a similar idea last year and they are still letting the theme "desaturate"
  • Maybe the guy who keeps rejecting a project finally left to work on something else.  
  • Upcoming event (Anniversary, Game Release, etc...) likely to renew interest in the subject
  • In the fullness of time, global acceptance of the subject matter lubricates Brand Fit (see LotR!)  
  • The subject matter is, on its own, making grounds into new markets
  • The subject matter is trendy now

There is however another reason that does not seem to get much air time in most discussions that I would like to take this soap box to discuss.  Ideas, with every product release to date, has fundamental proven itself to be a bad-ass. 

Now, A bit of Backstory...LEGO challenges itself regularly to come up with new lines of products that shakes up the norm.  This was called the "New Business Group."  Architecture, Life of George, Cuusoo/Ideas, etc...Basically, this was kind of like LEGO being a venture capitalist inside its own company.   It basically established these "start ups" inside itself and game them a few years to get on their feet or, well, not.   

Obviously Life of George is no longer with us...but the other are.

Basically for the first few years of its existence,  Ideas/Cuusoo was a risky start up.  When you are choosing your products, under those kinds of restrictions, you go with the ones you know are going to succeed.  You go with the easy decisions.  You don't gamble.  A single loss could be the end of the whole program.

So, now,  Ideas has six globally distributed sets under its belt.  Of those six, four sold out immediately, one has spun out multiple sets and a full blown theme, and two appear to be selling fairly well with obvious fan appeal.

It is not often that LEGO sells out of a set while demand is still high.  That tells you that not only is Ideas "winning," it is exceeding the expectations of LEGO.

Why am I pointing all this out?  Well, one is just to do it...I am editorializing you know...but the other point is that in the early days of Cuusoo, the risk/reward equation pointed heavily in favor of the sure thing, products that would definitely find a comfortable profit margin and public acclaim.  With each successful product launch, Ideas has reinforced that it is not a fluke though, that it is successful business model.  Ideas at this point is "solvent."

At this point, Ideas can easily absorb the hit, both monetarily and in the arena of public opinion, if  a risky project fails to pan out.  So as Ideas keeps racking up the wins, don't be surprised if they pick a few curve balls to throw into the mix.  

Just another factor to ponder when you are considering a far out idea, or about to trash someone else's.