The "Lego Moment": One Company's Simple Solution To A $600,000 Problem

When data-recovery firm Kroll Ontrack didn't have enough manpower to complete a massive job, an engineer's Lego set literally saved the day.

It was a "Lego Moment"—when a data recovery firm's $600,000 data recovery contract was on the line, Lego blocks saved the day.

Minnesota-based Kroll Ontrack, which specializes in recovering data, needed to hand-clean 5,200 damaged tapes for a $600,000 job. The problem? The company didn't have enough staff to hand-clean the equipment, and there were no tools available that could automate the task. Kroll's team was stumped, until one engineer, Thomas Hanselmann, went home to play with his son.

According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal's Katharine Grayson, Hanselmann was building a Lego bulldozer with his son, and realized that the Lego kit included a motor that propels the bulldozer forward. In a spark of inspiration, Hanselmann realized the kit could be reconfigured into an automatic tape cleaner. The improvised Lego tape cleaner worked—and Kroll earned more than $600,000 in sales. The Lego machine is still in operation and additional copies were made in Kroll's European offices.

The lesson? A Lego moment is "having a complex problem and finding a simple yet elegant solution," says Kroll Ontrack CEO Dean Hager.

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