Last weekend my wife and I walked around the marvelous IKEA store in Burbank, CA. I’ve always been a fan of this particular store, as it is spectacularly laid out with the restaurant and showroom on the second floor and the labyrinthine marketplace below. But on this trip, a few things that really stood out to me.
As an organization, IKEA is showing some amazing glimpses of brilliance into the ways a company will be successful in the new economy. Here are four that I found:
1) Be Unapologetic About Apologizing
One of the first things I noticed when walking in the front doors was their usual stack of new catalogs, but this time, there was a big sign on the front. As you can see, it’s a flat-out apology about some mistakes they made inside. This catalog JUST came out, and the up-front-ness of this approach really made me take note. (How long did it take to get an apology from BP about a catastrophic natural disaster? Did we ever even get one?) Organizations can’t just be “companies” anymore, they must have a decidedly human core that freely admits when they mess up, saying “Sorry!” quickly and in a transparent way.
2) Recognize Cost Is About More Than Price
To make it in the new economy, organizations will have to adopt a “legacy view” of life, recognizing that we have a responsibility to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Chances are, the world will be here long after we will, and the choices we make now have a profound and lasting impact on the world of tomorrow. IKEA has made some pioneering strides in this area, detailing a “Never Ending List” on their website (currently 77 items long) of continuing improvements, including outlawing plastic bags, flat packaging couches, and even phasing out incandescent light bulbs!
3) Continually Drive More Value To Customers
How many companies out there are lowering prices right now?
Well, that’s exactly what IKEA is doing, lowering the prices on many items (including one of my personal favorites: the meatballs!). By building upon their list of continuing improvements, they can drive more value straight to the customers.
Organizations have always had to provide value, of course — it’s just going to be even more important in the new economy, where consumers have more power than ever before in history.
4) Add More Meaning-Makers
On my way out of the building, I saw this sign at the base of the escalators.
The best companies know that the marketplace of tomorrow requires true leaders who can make quality decisions at every “level,” from top to bottom.
Employees who ask, “Why?” are consistently trying to generate meaning from their work, and if they can, they will build positive growth. Not to mention they’re more passionate about everything they do, which is always more profitable — and makes work more fun!
Feel free to add any glimpses of brilliance you’ve seen at IKEA below!