The Wall Street Journal: Why More Companies Are Putting Lego Bricks in the Office

Executives believe bringing in the colorful brick toys helps with creativity, anxiety and communication

The engineers at German company Metafinanz snickered when they saw small piles of Lego bricks awaiting them in the conference room. The compliance team was skeptical, the risk management team was openly critical. 

“But by the time we were done, the biggest critics had become the system’s loudest champions,” said Matthias Gotz, a strategist at the business and information consulting firm in Munich. 

Lego A/S, the Danish maker of colorful building-block toys, was on the brink of bankruptcy in the early 2000s. But the company turned things around by making several changes, according to analysts and a spokeswoman for the firm. Gone were products that weren’t construction bricks. Instead, the company expanded its range of traditional Lego sets to also include popular licenses, like “Star Wars,” “Seinfeld” and “Harry Potter,” along with famous landmarks and other products meant to entice both children and adults. 

Last year, Lego posted more than €7 billion in sales, up from about €2.2 billion in 2010. It is once again the top toy maker in the world. 

The latest driver of growth for Lego is those adults who were using the product at home are also bringing it into their workplace. Those companies and individuals bringing Lego products into the office say it helps with creativity, anxiety and communication. 

One driver of such growth is a program called Lego Serious Play. LSP is a training tool where employees are asked to address company concerns or aspirations by first building a small Lego model from a handful of bricks, then describing what they constructed and why. 

The system is designed to improve communication and enhance a company’s performance, according to Robert Rasmussen, a business consultant in Denmark who helped develop the program more than two decades ago. LSP has been used by the U.S. Naval Warfare Division, Harvard Business School and spread across energy, transport, and finance industries. Companies including Google, Ernst & Young, MicrosoftVisa, Lexus, and Procter & Gamble have used it. 

LSP training workshops cost $500 to $5,000, range from two hours to two days, and might include a handful of employees or many dozen. There are about 13,000 certified LSP facilitators worldwide today, up from about 2,500 in 2015. 

“Two years ago, there weren’t many U.S.-based facilitators like myself, but it’s exploding here now,” said Wendi McGehee, a professor of organizational psychology at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California who teaches the program to her students and when consulting local companies.

Other companies are using Lego products in different ways.

Communications technology giant Ericsson uses the product to teach programming concepts to schoolchildren and has used Lego robots to demonstrate how machines change the way we live

Google’s New York campus has a Lego room where employees can get out of creative ruts and stimulate new ideas through building Lego models, according to former employee Adam Singer and a representative from the company. Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., use plastic bricks to plan and show concepts through construction design.

“South Park” co-creator Trey Parker surrounds himself with Lego sets at his company’s production studio, as detailed in the 2014 documentary film “A Lego Brickumentary.” Mr. Parker and others in the film said the prescribed instruction of building specific Lego sets is creatively liberating and therapeutic, according to film co-director, Daniel Junge. 

A representative for Mr. Parker declined to comment further beyond the benefits he spoke to in the documentary. 

Jessica Milmeister, director of enterprise quality at McLean, Va.-based government services company V2X Inc., began using Lego elements following an LSP demonstration. Ms. Milmeister said individuals typically come to her office in Colorado Springs, Colo., to discuss a problem by explaining it verbally before. She then asks them to build a Lego model showing the same problem while explaining what each brick represents or means. 

“I often find that they build the model with assumptions that were not already explained, allowing us to dig in to find the true root cause of the problem,” she said.

The use of Lego in the workplace has been the subject of multiple studies that show how communicating through the bricks can help companies develop problem-solving skillsimprove communication, and overcome creativity challenges. There is further research on how it helps work-related stress and anxiety

Of course, bringing piles of Lego bricks into the workplace isn’t going to fix everything. The system and product isn’t a panacea against issues that run deeper than communication breakdowns or the ruts some individuals and companies experience. 

“Understanding what Lego Serious Play is not is just as important as recognizing all it can be,” Mr. Rasmussen said. 

Lucas O’Ceallacháin, a coach development lead at the Australian Institute of Sport, uses LSP to train future coaches and Olympic athletes. 

Mr. O’Ceallacháin uses the product by giving his trainees a handful of bricks, asking each person to build a model that demonstrates how they see themselves as a coach. He also likes using Lego elements to encourage participation from those prone to introversion. 

“Everyone contributes equally when they have the same pile of bricks in front of them,” he said.

GovConWire: V2X Issues 1st Financial Report Since Vectrus-Vertex Merger; Chuck Prow Quoted

V2X (NYSE: VVX) reported $498 million in sales for the second quarter of 2022, up 6 percent from the prior-year period, and said the quarterly results for the period ended July 1 reflect contributions of Vectrus prior to the completion of its merger with The Vertex Company.

In early July, Vectrus closed its all-stock merger with The Vertex Company, forming V2X as a new critical-mission platforms and services provider to defense customers worldwide.

“Revenue growth was driven by building on the momentum of programs in INDOPACOM and Europe, along with successful phase-in of new contracts, including the Logistics Readiness Center at Fort Benning,” V2X CEO Chuck Prow said

Vectrus ended the quarter with a total backlog of $4.6 billion, of which $1.3 billion was funded.

The company recorded an operating cash flow of $46 million for the second quarter, a fully diluted earnings per share of $0.88 and an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $24.7 million with a margin of 5 percent.

Prow, an eight-time Wash100 Award winner, noted that V2X reached full operational capability status on Logistics Civil Augmentation Program V Kwajalein ahead of schedule, enabling the company to broaden its presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

“This program is expected to run over the next eight years and provides strategic logistics services to the DoD. Work content in the INDOPACOM region now represents 9% of total revenue, up 3% from last year, and positions us well to support the DoD in a full range of operations over the next ten years,” he added.

DefenseNews Top 100: The list is here: Find out how global defense companies performed in FY21

The war in Ukraine has sparked a global hunger for weapons that is likely to play out over years. In some cases, the war is pushing countries to turn to off-the-shelf systems rather than wait for programs already in development. As a result, this new wave of spending is likely to have major ramifications for the global defense industry in the coming years.

Jim Taiclet, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, put it this way in a recent earnings call: “The clutch isn’t engaged yet.”

“It’s going to take two to three years,” he told analysts. “That’s for our allies as well because they not only have to go through their own processes internally, they then have to go through generally the [U.S.] Foreign Military Sales process.”

Indeed, these kinds of changes are slower to emerge when it comes to company revenue, and that may be why much of this year’s Defense News Top 100 list looks similar to last year. (Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies and Boeing predictably take the top spots.)

That said, there are some notable changes. Peraton, which made several major acquisitions, has jumped nearly 75 slots to join Leidos, Amentum and Booz Allen Hamilton as the largest U.S. government services contractors.

KBR, which is 32nd, also jumped up the list, while Ukrainian conglomerate Ukroboronprom surged eight spots.

Of course, the list doesn’t capture everything. Only one Russian company participated this year, giving us limited insight into the country’s defense industry. We rely on analysts to provide the data for Chinese companies.

And some of the major players in technology, from Amazon to Google, provide only limited windows into their defense work, meaning we can’t include them on the list because we don’t have a clear understanding of the scope of their defense work.

It’s a reminder that this list isn’t perfect, but what we hope it provides is a meaningful view of the industry and how it changes — or doesn’t — from year to year. It can show trends in sales, acquisitions and geopolitics. And this year’s list does that.

It’s a snapshot that we hope will serve as a useful tool for readers.

GovConWire: Q&A with V2X CEO Chuck Prow Highlights Pre-Merger Discussions & Future Opportunities for Combined Workforce

Following the completion of the all-stock merger between Vectrus and Vertex that resulted in the establishment of V2XChuck Prow, CEO of the new and more diversified company, engaged in a Q&A with GovCon Wire to share the early discussions about the combination and to expound on the rationale behind the transaction.

The eight-time recipient of the Wash100 Award also talked about the opportunities for and the similar culture among the more than 14,000 V2X employees.

“I always tell our employees that growth is not a financial measure; it is a measure of opportunity. I look forward to seeing how the employees of V2X will collaborate, innovate and support each other while continuing their passion for their missions in the coming weeks and months.”

Read the full Q&A with V2X CEO Chuck Prow below:

GovCon Wire: How did the combination of Vectrus and Vertex come about?

Chuck Prow: In November of last year, I met with the leadership of American Industrial Partners, the owners of Vertex, to discuss our respective views of the market and the industrial logic of combining the Vertex and Vectrus businesses. It was very clear in these early discussions that not only did we see the market and the combination logic similarly, but we saw the potential for the commonality of our cultures and the complementary nature of our respective capabilities to create a true force in the marketplace.  

It should also be noted that we knew both the Vertex business and the portion of the Raytheon business that Vertex was in the final stage of acquiring, very well. We looked at Vertex in 2018 prior to the AIP acquisition and the Raytheon business early in that specific process. Although the respective timing of those processes was not right for Vectrus, we were very confident strategically that both the Aerospace O&M and Training businesses were complementary to our strategy, and they were being driven by the same technological and market forces of managing infrastructures at scale through the use of enhanced technology.

GovCon Wire: What was the rationale for the combination and how do you see the company evolving in the coming years?

Chuck Prow: The rationale was both strategic and financial. Financially, the additional scale and resources will allow V2X the ability to be competitive for opportunities across the federal and international markets while having the resources to invest in growth opportunities into the foreseeable future. Additionally, with projected margins greater than 8 percent, the V2X EBITDA margins will be in line with the broader government services cohort.

Strategically, the complementary nature of the two businesses was quite remarkable. The diversity of the contract types, clients, geographies and capabilities make V2X a very balanced business providing benefits for both our clients and investors. From a capability perspective, the V2X business will be in a position to lead the operation and logistics, aerospace, training and technology segments of the federal services marketplace.

GovCon Wire: What excites you the most about the future of V2X and what’s next for the company?

Chuck Prow: To this point, we have discussed the logic of the combination that created V2X from a market, client and financial perspective. What I’m most excited about is the opportunities V2X creates for the 14,000+ people of V2X operating around the globe, often in remote and austere environments.

As I mentioned, the cultures of Vectrus and Vertex are very similar.  Our people are driven by a passion for the missions we are privileged to operate and share a common core values system of Integrity, Respect, Responsibility and Professionalism.

I always tell our employees that growth is not a financial measure; it is a measure of opportunity. I look forward to seeing how the employees of V2X will collaborate, innovate and support each other while continuing their passion for their missions in the coming weeks and months.

GovCon Wire: The operational segment of the broader federal services marketplace has recently been through significant consolidation. Do you see this consolidation continuing? How do you see that market evolving in the near and midterm?

Chuck Prow: It is true that the rate and pace of the marketplace consolidation, especially since the Army Logistics Civil Augmentation Program V award, has been astonishing.

When I joined Vectrus in 2016, there were easily a dozen viable competitors for most opportunities. Today, there are four competitors of scale across the operational segment of the government services marketplace.

Having said this, as digital and physical infrastructures continue to converge, additional competitors will emerge just as our addressable market will continue to increase. The Net Net is yes, I do see additional opportunities to consolidate. Especially with new and innovative technologies and technology-based service providers that will enhance our strategy to operate infrastructures at scale in a more predictive, technology-enabled and cost-effective manner.

Washington Technology: Vectrus-Vertex Merger Closes

Vectrus and Vertex are now one after the companies have completed their merger to create a new government services contractor with a new name.

But the now McLean, Virginia-headquartered V2X will not get its stock ticker symbol quite yet. The company will trade as “VEC” through Thursday and then take on the new symbol of “VVX” when markets open Friday.

“Through this transformative combination, we created a company with the scale and ability to compete for large integrated business opportunities by providing full life-cycle support across the converged environment,” V2X CEO Chuck Prow said in a release Monday.

First announced in March, the transaction creates a 14,000-employee company focused on providing technology-enabled services for government programs such as logistics and training. V2X also has highlighted aerospace and other platforms as a growth channel for the merged business.

Vertex’s now-former private equity owner American Industrial Partners holds approximately 62% of the combined company’s stock, while Vectrus’ shareholders have the remaining 38%.

The new company’s board of directors includes these six designated by Vectrus: chair Mary Howell, Melvin Parker, Eric Pillmore, Chuck Prow, Stephen Waechter and Phillip Widman. Panel members chosen by Vertex include its former CEO Ed Boyington, Dino Cusumano, Lee Evangelakos, Joel Rotroff and Neil Snyder.

Goldman Sachs is acting as exclusive financial adviser to Vectrus. Skadden and Covington are acting as legal counsel. Vectrus was also advised by Ernst & Young and Wolf Den Associates.

RBC Capital Markets and Evercore are acting as financial advisers to Vertex. Jones Day, Baker Botts and Ropes & Gray are acting as legal counsel. Vertex was also advised by Fairmont Consulting Group.

ExecutiveGov: Vectrus, Vertex Company Complete Merger to Form Global Mission Services Company V2X; CEO Chuck Prow Quoted

Vectrus has closed its transaction to merge with fellow defense and aerospace contractor the Vertex Company, together forming the new company V2X Inc.

The business combination is intended to yield an enterprise offering wide-ranging national security and technology modernization services to defense, civilian and international customers, the newly formed organization said Tuesday.

“We created a company with the scale and ability to compete for large integrated business opportunities by providing full life-cycle support across the converged environment,” commented Chuck Prow, the former CEO of Vectrus and eight-time Wash100 Award winner who is now CEO of V2X.

The converged environment Prow mentions is an element carried over from Vectrus that was introduced earlier this year. The concept aims to offer a unified physical and digital approach to address U.S. Department of Defense technological and operational needs. V2X’s team will perform services in operations and logistics, aerospace, training and technology.

The 11-member board of directors of V2X are populated by six Vectrus-appointed figures and five Vertex-assigned executives. Melvin Parker, Eric Pillmore, Chuck Prow, Stephen Waechter, Phillip Widman and Chairman Mary Howell are Vectrus’ instatements, while Vertex elected Ed Boyington, Dino Cusumano, Lee Evangelakos, Joel Rotroff and Neil Snyder.

V2X will now inherit responsibilities such as the $250 million task order from the U.S. Army awarded to Vectrus for logistics support in February. Work under the contract will potentially extend through December 2026.

As a result of the merger’s finalization, prior Vertex stockholders now retain about 62 percent of V2X and past Vectrus investors own approximately 38 percent of the new company’s common stock. The transaction’s close moved 18.6 million shares of Vectrus common stock to Vertex shareholders. V2X’s stock will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “VVX,” effective July 8.

Vectrus was financially advised by Goldman Sachs & Co., with additional advisement by Ernst & Young and Wolf Den Associates, while Vertex received financial appraisal from RBC Capital Markets, LLC and Evercore, with additional advisement from Fairmont Consulting Group.