Book Review: Toy Box Leadership

I just finished Toy Box Leadership: Leadership Lessons from the Toys You Loved as a Child…somewhat flawed but a good book nonetheless.

Flawed may be a bad word to use for this book.  The idea is a great one (more on it later) but the narratives about the lessons could have been stronger.   In addition, I noticed some editorial issues (spelling, words out of order, etc) which I wholely attribute to the publisher / editor for not catching.

That said, I love the ideas presented in this book.

Think back to the toys you had as a kid. Think about LEGO, Play-Doh, Mr Potato Head, the Yo-Yo…all those great toys that kept us entertained for hours. The authors of the book argue that we can learn lessons in leadership from these toys.

For Example:

  • LEGO – using the idea of LEGO bricks, the authors present the idea of connectedness.  Connecting the right people together in business is essential.  Connecting the right businesses together is also important.
  • Play-Doh – This great toy can be shaped and made into anything.  The same can be true of organizations…a great leader can shape the organization to meet future goals.  There may need to be lots of different experiments done to find the right shape, but it can be done.
  • Rubik’s Cube -  The author’s use the Rubik’s Cube as a toy that describes ethics. While I tend to disagree with that premise, it does make a great toy to demonstrate strategy & tactics.  You know where you want to get to (all sides with same colors) and you have to determine the tactics to get there (which turns to make and in what order).

If you are anything like me, you’ve probably played with all the toys in this book and can relate to the lessons learned…perhaps you’ll realize you did learn something while ‘goofing off’ as a kid :)

While not perfect, I’d suggest this book to anyone looking for new ways to think about leadership, strategy & business.

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Comments

  1. Actually, the angles of play are all part of the strategic approach that Design Thinking brings to the table — it's part of the means by which we suspend our current beliefs to make room for more possibilities.

    More fundamental books in this arena (which you may already be aware of): Michael Schrage's “Serious Play” (HBR 2000) and the significance of play to our brain and our culture by the founder of the National Institute for Play, Stuart Brown “Play: How it Shapes the Brain…” (Penguin 2009)

  2. Thanks for the pointers to the other books…great stuff!

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