It dawned on me that I’ve never really blogged about the projects I’ve worked on at LEGO. The first one I wanted to share is the LEGO Ambassadors.
The LEGO Ambassador Program is a community based program made up of adult LEGO hobbyists. The mission of the LEGO Ambassador Program is to develop a tighter bond between the LEGO Group and the LEGO Community, by forming trusted relationships with a select group of the leaders of the adult LEGO community. The program is designed to provide a continuous exchange of information, ideas, and community feedback between the Adult LEGO community and the LEGO Group. There are currently 20 LEGO Ambassador "seats".
LEGO Ambassadors are the “representative voice” of the community. This means that they will act as true ambassadors for the adult LEGO community into the company, as well as finding and delivering information of relevance to the community out of the company. LEGO Ambassadors have the opportunity to become the eyes, ears, and voice of the adult LEGO community inside and outside the company. They help keep the community informed of current LEGO Group news, internal background information, and other subjects of interest for the adult fan community. Additionally,Ambassadors help bring the opinions and desires of the community into the company.
During each cycle, Ambassadors will be asked to participate in projects from three main areas:
Community Development: Based on the cycle-specific “Ambassadors Agenda” that is set at the beginning of each cycle, Ambassadors will work together with the LEGO Community Team to help grow the adult fan community. The Ambassador Agenda projects are based on the overall community needs and desires, with a goal of expansion and solidification.
Ambassador selection is based on a written email application, that outlines why the applicant feels s/he should be accepted. Selection is based on a review of the application against a long list of objective and subjective criteria, and based in no small part on participation and contribution to the LEGO community overall.
Participation and contribution comes in many forms – creating great events, forum postings that help other fans out, organizing a local club, enthusiasm about building, sharing with LEGO elements, or a range of other qualifications. The key ingredient for an Ambassador is the ability to communicate effectively, representing and exciting the community groups they interact with.
It’s important to note that a closer, more formal relationship with the LEGO Group doesn’t negate the ability of an Ambassador to speak freely, even critically on LEGO subjects. Informed critiques from the community through Ambassadors to the LEGO Group is as valuable as other forms of enthusiasm. Ambassadors are not LEGO spokespersons, but instead trusted allies.
The term of service (or cycle) for an Ambassador is approximately six months. Every Ambassador has to re-apply every cycle. An Ambassador might be in the program for 2 years or more, but all Ambassadors reapply every 6 months. There is no upper limit to how often a particular Ambassador may serve.
The program is based on applications and not recruitment. This means, for example, if no one from South America applies, then there’s no chance that South America will be represented. The goal is to have both the best talent from the community as well as a representative distribution among countries. Due to the community nature of the program, all Ambassadors must be conversant in the English language, although not necessarily fluent.
This program is coming up on its second cycle, and is doing quite well. The first cycle was as much about learning what the Ambassadors would be interested in as well as figuring out how to sell this program to colleagues internally.
Overall, the program is proving very successful. It’s also been a great help to me, as the community liaison to have a small group that I can turn to for feedback on various subjects. I use a private email list and they have non-disclosure agreements they’re required to sign, so I can toss out pics of new sets, or ask about ideas for marketing programs, or any number of other things.
But the key benefit is that there’s a funnel effect. I can work with the community leaders on information sharing, information gathering, and new projects which they in turn share with the community at large. In the next cycle, we’re actually adding something comparable to the Supreme Court Chief Justice. This will provide an "organizational leader" (rather than hierarchal leader) who is equal in hierarchy but who has a few additional duties to help keep the group on track. This will further extend the funnel model of involvement for me.
As you can tell, there’s been a great deal of work on balancing the program to benefit both the company and the community…. thus sticking to my mantra: Everybody goes home happy.