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The Testament of a Furniture Dealer

date Jan 15, 2022
authors Ingvar Kamprad
reading time 10 mins
category docs

Table of Contents

No method is more effective than the good example.

Good for customers is good for the company

To create a better everyday life for the many people by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so lowthat as many people as possible will be able to afford them. We have decided once and for all to side with the many. What is good for our customers is also, in the long run, good for us. This is an objective that carries obligations.

Freedom comes with responsibility

Part of creating a better everyday life for the many people also consists of breaking free from status and convention – becoming freer as human beings. We aim to make our name synonymous with that concept too – for our own benefit and for the inspiration of others. We must, however, always bear in mind that freedom implies responsibility, meaning that we must demand much of ourselves.


  1. The product range – our identity
  2. IKEA Spirit
  3. Profit gives us resources
  4. Reaching good results with small means
  5. Simplicity is a virtue
  6. Doing it a different way
  7. Concentration – important to our success
  8. Taking responsibility – a privilege
  9. Most things still remain to be done. A glorious future!


What is the IKEA product?

It must reflect an easier, more natural and unconstrained way of life. It must express form, and be colourful and cheerful, with a youthful accent that appeals to the young at heart of all ages. In Scandinavia, people should perceive our basic range as typically IKEA. Elsewhere, they should perceive it as typically Swedish.

Quality for customer’s needs

That is why our products must be functional and well-made. But quality must never be an end in itself: it must be adjusted to the consumer’s needs.

Low cost

The concept of a low price with a meaning makes enormous demands on all our co-workers. That includes product developers, designers, buyers, office and warehouse staff, sales people and all other cost bearers who are in a position to influence our purchase prices and all our other costs – in short, every single one of us! Without low costs, we can never accomplish our purpose.

Ikea Spirit

When the company grows

Obviously it was easier to keep alive in the old days when there were not so many of us, when we were all within reach of each other and could talk to each other. It is naturally harder now that the individual has gradually been lost in the grey conformity of collective bargaining and the numbered files of the personnel department.

For some, undoubtedly a job is a livelihood

Not everybody in a large group like ours can feel the same sense of responsibility and enthusiasm. Some undoubtedly regard the job simply as a means of livelihood – a job like any other. Sometimes you and I must share the blame for failing to keep the flame alight, maybe for faltering in our own commitment at times, for simply not having the energy to infuse life and warmth into an apparently monotonous task.

Why a job must never be just a livelihood

A job must never be just a livelihood. If you are not enthusiastic about your job, a third of your life goes to waste, and a magazine in your desk drawer can never make up for that.


Subsidy or true profit?

Profit gives us resources. There are two ways to get resources: either through our own profit, or through subsidy. All state subsidies are paid for either out of the state’s profit on operations of some kind, or from taxes of some kind that you and I have to pay. Let us be self-reliant in the matter of building up financial resources too. The aim of our effort to build up financial resources is to reach a good result in the long term.

Charge too much or too little?

If we charge too much, we will not be able to offer the lowest prices. If we charge too little, we will not be able to build up resources. A wonderful problem! It forces us to develop products more economically, to purchase more efficiently and to be constantly stubborn in cost savings of all kinds. That is our secret. That is the foundation of our success.

Small means

Constraints are good!

Time after time we have proved that we can get good results with small means or very limited resources. Wasting resources is a mortal sin at IKEA.

Skilled design is cost-efficient

Any designer can design a desk that will cost 5,000 kronor. But only the most highly skilled can design a good, functional desk that will cost 100 kronor. Expensive solutions to any kind of problem are usually the work of mediocrity. We have no respect for a solution until we know what it costs.


Complicated rules are wrong!

There have to be rules to enable a lot of people to function together in a community or a company. But the more complicated the rules are, the harder they are to comply with. Complicated rules paralyse!


Indecisiveness generates more statistics, more studies, more committees, more bureaucracy. Bureaucracy complicates and paralyses! Planning is often synonymous with bureaucracy.

Too much planning

But do not forget that exaggerated planning is the most common cause of corporate death. Exaggerated planning constrains your freedom of action and leaves you less time to get things done.


Patterns and progress

If we from the start had consulted experts about whether a little community like Älmhult could support a company like IKEA, they would have undoubtedly advised against it. Nevertheless, Älmhult is now home to one of the world’s biggest operations in the home furnishings business. By always asking why we are doing this or that, we can find new paths. By refusing to accept a pattern simply because it is well established, we make progress. We dare to do things differently! Not just in large matters, but in solving small everyday problems too.


Impossible to satusfy everyone

For us too, it is a matter of concentration – focusing our resources. We can never do everything, everywhere, all at the same time. Our range cannot be allowed to overflow. We will never be able to satisfy all tastes anyway. We must concentrate on our own profile. We can never promote the whole of our range at once. We must concentrate. We cannot conquer every market at once. We must concentrate for maximum impact, often with small means.



Only while sleeping one makes no mistakes. Making mistakes is the privilege of the active – of those who can correct their mistakes and put them right. Our objectives require us to constantly practise making decisions and taking responsibility, to constantly overcome our fear of making mistakes. The fear of making mistakes is the root of bureaucracy and the enemy of development.


Never fully done

The feeling of having finished something is an effective sleeping pill. A person who retires feeling that he has done his bit will quickly wither away. A company which feels that it has reached its goal will quickly stagnate and lose its vitality. Happiness is not reaching your goal. Happiness is being on the way.


Bear in mind that time is your most important resource. You can do so much in 10 minutes. Ten minutes, once gone, are gone for good. You can never get them back. Ten minutes are not just a sixth of your hourly pay. Ten minutes are a piece of yourself. Divide your life into 10-minute units and sacrifice as few of them as possible in meaningless activity.




It is vital that we IKEA co-workers don’t lose sight of our humbleness in the face of all our success. Success breeds envy and can easily become the worst enemy of humbleness. We must also bear in mind that today’s success can soon turn into tomorrow’s failure if we let ourselves become intoxicated with our own achievements rather than knuckling down to more hard work.


Agree to commit despite disagreement

Willpower means first agreeing on mutual objectives and then not letting anything stand in the way of actually achieving them.


Failing and experiences

The way we act is based on exploiting the potential of the positive experiences we have had and being wary of the negative ones. Just because you fail once, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your idea was a bad one.

Never say never

Systems and operations for slow, hard work

But, by constantly reviewing your aims and operational frameworks, you’ll soon learn the difference between slow, hard work that promises rewards, and slow, hard work that promises nothing but blood, sweat and tears.

Right to make mistakes

Mistakes based on information and good work

The right to make mistakes does not give you the right to do a bad job. If we want to get something done, we can’t wait until we are one hundred percent certain that it will succeed – but, at the same time, we can’t go around making decisions without the least shred of information, either. We don’t do shoddy rush- jobs, or hand over projects that are only half finished.

The IKEA way

What is cost-consciousness

That a particular idea is not cost-conscious, that it’s a waste of resources, that it’s not in the interest of the many people, that it doesn’t reveal our customary humbleness, that it’s complacent, that there’s no price tag – they are examples of not doing things “the IKEA Way”.


Complicated systems

Complicated systems and rules are a form of paralysis. Working parties, reports and paperwork consume a lot of time and energy and cost a great deal of money. Make decisions on a local level wherever possible. And don’t forget: a small team with a lot of decision-making power can deliver a knock-out punch to sluggish bureaucracy.


So cost-consciousness has to permeate everything we do, almost to the point of that kind of exaggerated meanness that some may call “penny-pinching”.

  • simple products which are adapted to factory production
  • a strong focus on purchasing prices
  • simple, inexpensively-built stores, located out of town
  • achieving good results with small resources
  • producing a product or service without a price tag is always wrong
  • living and travelling cheaply
  • a strong awareness of all those little, insignificant expenses which can so easily mount up
  • an awareness that time is money. Learn how to use your time effectively.