Share your Legos: Why sharing resources leads to better outcomes

Justin Brodeur / October 24, 2018

Companies can learn a lot from watching kids play with Legos. Yes, those Legos. The tiny colorful interlocking plastic bricks that occupy whole aisles in Target and cost a small fortune.

The pieces can be assembled and connected in creative and interesting ways to build cars, boats, houses, spaceships, and skyscrapers. But, watch kids play with them.

Kids playing by themselves seem to stay on task, sticking to the directions and building an ordinary house as described by the step-by-step booklet accompanying their set. But, when they share their Legos with their friends, that house turns into something greater and more imaginative. In the group setting, that house turns from a regular Lego house into a flying house with a bathtub fit for a superhero and an ice cream storage room.

What can companies learn from that (aside from the obvious need for installing an ice cream storage room near the nap pods)?

Well, every company has its very own version of Legos. It might be data, or people, computing, or some other resource. But, those are the business equivalents of Lego bricks and gears. Sharing those resources internally or with trusted partners can lead to product innovation, resource optimization, and better outcomes.

It’s easy for businesses to get stuck, in the name of productivity, staying on task and playing by the directions in the step-by-step booklet. I’m here to tell you to stop playing by the directions and to bridge out, one Lego brick at a time. Share resources with your partners, and you’ll create something new, imaginative, and truly innovative.

Don’t believe me? Here are some examples.

Playing a better waiting game

The Massachusetts RMV has a system that keeps track of in-person wait times at each of their branches. On the RMV website, anyone can look up the wait time at one of the Boston branches. Using that data, it’s possible that you could spend all day watching and waiting for a shorter wait time. The wait time data is a Lego brick. We took that data and combined it with a few other bricks to build something really interesting.

What are those other bricks that we used? One brick is a program that fetches the data and looks for short wait times. Another brick is Twilio, an API-based text messaging service that lets the program communicate with users to let them know that the wait time is low. Another brick is Sendgrid (recently purchased by Twilio), which is an email-sending service that lets users know about wait times via email and also communicates system issues to our devops team.

Want to play with our creation? It’s here at massrmvwaittime.com

Making financial education personal and fun

With people living longer than ever before, there’s a deeper focus on having enough money to live and remain financially independent after retirement. Financial services companies are taking this cultural shift in stride and working to provide new financial education and retirement planning resources to their customers.

If there is one thing that we’ve learned from working with financial services companies, it’s that they have a lot of Legos. They know how much you make, if you’ve taken loans, what your general financial condition is, and where you want to be on your retirement path. But, how can that data translate to an educational experience?

Our client shared their Legos with us and we found out. They built an API that allowed us to gather participant metadata. The metadata (non-personally identifiable) gave us basic data points such as age, income, loan information, and a few other relevant things. They also shared a financial wellness tool that gathered user-generated data.

We combined their bricks with a few bricks of our own. Bringing all of these bricks together allowed us to build a web application that delivers a personalized education experience to participants.

A custom content management system was built to organize educational data, plans, badges, and more. Select publishers can enter their own criteria for participants to earn badges and publish the badge workflow in real time. Want to reward people with a badge for reading about index funds during happy hour? No problem–you can create the “happy reader at happy hour” badge.

Another important brick that we brought in was a recommendation engine that is powered by our client’s data API, data generated from the financial wellness tool, and badges that participants earned. We can recommend relevant content for participants to consume at their leisure, or we can push them to complete a component by awarding participants with a badge if they complete a module within a certain time period.

By providing relevant educational information and incentivizing participants to learn and take control of their retirement, everyone benefits. Participants learn how to prepare for a sound financial future. Plan sponsors benefit because financially secure employees are more productive. Firms grow their assets under management and can continue to innovate.

Conclusion

These are just two examples out of many. Each example shows companies collaborating to deliver new and creative methods for people to live better, healthier, happier lives.

None of these applications and experiences would exist if our partners kept their resources to themselves. Each company would have carried on, sticking to the step-by-step instructions. Instead, by sharing their Legos and collaborating, they’ve unleashed creative minds to deliver something new and valuable.

I urge you to do this with your own company and resources. I know you can do it. Just think: What are some resources that your company has that might be shared to create something valuable?

Share your Legos.

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