The Box

How do you innovate mature products or services? Robertson's "Third Way" approach is a low-risk, high-reward strategy that has been used by dozens of companies to revive challenged products and restart growth.

David Robertson

David Robertson is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management where he teaches Innovation and Product Design. He's also an award-winning author, speaker, and teacher.

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The Power of Little Ideas

By David Robertson with Kent Lineback

A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation.

Details, Sample and Praise

Brick by Brick

By David Robertson with Bill Breen

How Lego Rewrote The Rules Of Innovation And Conquered The Global Toy Industry

Details, Sample and Praise
Featured Speaking Topics


Managers are bombarded with dozens of theories for how to manage innovation.  LEGO over the past two decades has tried them all – blue ocean strategy, full spectrum innovation, and disruptive innovation, to name a few.  None of them worked.  Learn the strategy that led LEGO to nine years of 20% annual sales growth.


Much of the business press focuses on big, world-changing innovations—innovations that will “disrupt” industries, lead companies to “blue oceans,” and revolutionize markets.  Using stories from industries as diverse as financial services, fashion, grocery, and used car sales, David illustrates this proven approach to innovation.


Leading company transformations is hard, no matter when it happens.  But it can be even harder when things are going well.  A crisis is a great way to focus attention and gain agreement that changes are necessary, but what do you do to make change happen when things are going well?


Leading innovation is a difficult job.  And while most of the success or failure of a new innovation project is determined in the first 90 days, early mistakes often don’t reveal themselves until much later.  What can new innovation leaders do in their first 90 days on the job to ensure success?



""A real high point for our congress""

Christopher Beattie
Merck Animal Health

“I’d seen David present before at an international business conference and when we were planning our Congress with innovation as the main theme, he immediately came to mind as our first-choice keynote speaker. Outside of the compelling background story of Lego’s innovation journey and the faultless delivery of his presentation, I was most impressed by how David actively contributed to our planning process and coordinated our (Lego-themed) innovation workshop. Enthusiastic and approachable, great to see a speaker so ready to immerse themselves in our event and engage with delegates outside of the meeting room. His contribution was a real high point for our congress.”

Workshops details


Robertson is the author of two books on innovation.  The first, Brick by Brick:  How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry, is the story of LEGO’s near bankruptcy and spectacular recovery.  It describes the different approaches to innovation that LEGO tried and failed with, and the formula for success that the company ultimately adopted.  By innovating not inside the box or outside the box, but around the box, LEGO performed one of the most spectacular turnarounds in modern business history

Robertson’s most recent book, The Power of Little Ideas, describes this approach in detail and illustrates it with stories from companies as diverse as Novo Nordisk, CarMax, Victoria’s Secret, Gatorade, and USAA Insurance.  The book provides a step-by-step guide for implementing this approach to innovation – an approach that is neither incremental improvement of current products nor radical reinvention of a product or service.  This “Third Way” to innovate is the development of a family of complementary products and services around an existing product that helps customers get more value from that central product.  It’s not an easy approach to execute, but when done well can turn around an existing product that’s become stale or commoditized, and lead to increased profits and growth.



Robertson is an accomplished speaker who has entertained audiences around the world.  His talks are interactive, tailored to the audience, and usually involve some exercise and giveaway to keep the audience active and engaged.  As one event organizer said, he “delivered a talk that was both thought-provoking and entertaining” and “left the group buzzing with ideas.”  He has a range of different talks that can be tailored to any audience and event theme.  He can customize the talk and personalize the giveaway item to make your event truly memorable.



From a three hour overview to a three day deep dive, Robertson’s workshops are interactive, thought-provoking, inspiring, and practical.  Tailored to each group’s needs and situation, Robertson brings new insights and draws from industry-specific case studies to illustrate them.  Every workshop will leave participants with clear ideas that they can apply immediately.


Radio Show

For four years, David has been interviewing thought leaders about innovation and innovation leadership.  For more on the show, see the radio show web site.

Speaking and Workshops with David

Interactive keynotes that engage audiences

David Robertson is available for a broad range of possible activities, from an entertaining 30 minute speech to an engaging and active 2-day innovation workshop, and anything in-between.

Learn more about David Speaking

Praise for David’s speeches


"Robertson's 'Cards Against Innovation' game engaged the group, got them laughing, and left them with specific ideas where they could innovate"

Josh Klenoff
Founder, The Helm Group

“Robertson’s ‘Cards Against Innovation’ game was an entertaining way to illustrate the major points of his talk – it engaged the group, got them laughing, and left them with some specific ideas for where they could innovate.”


"A Great Contribution"

The PDS Team

“Thank you for speaking at PDS Connect 2017.  Your presentation really enhanced our theme and was a great contribution to the conference.”


"He entertained the audience with one of the best-received presentations of the conference"

Brad Barbera
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PDMA, The Product Development and Management Association

“David’s keynote presentation at the PDMA AnnualGlobal Conference was truly a high point of the event.He literally woke everyone up to re-imagine how to apply the innovation dicta that we have heard before. Not only was his insight and content rich, he entertained the audience with one of the best-received presentations of the conference.”


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