culture and values

IKEA culture & values

We believe in people and in the power of when people work together, lead by example, find better ways and get things done. This has nurtured a unique culture that every day inspires, challenges and empowers people across the globe to make life better for more of the many. In all our collaborations it is important for us that we share values and the belief in people. That brings out the best in us and in our collaboration.

Our heritage – our history has shaped who we are

Our Småland roots

Every family has its roots. And those roots shape what it becomes. The IKEA family is no different. Our roots are in the region of Småland in southern Sweden. The characteristics of that area and its people have played a big part in making us who and what we are today.

Our cultural legacy
Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA in 1943. But our culture is influenced by a history that goes further back. IKEA and Ingvar were both born in Småland in southern Sweden. The Smålandish environment and culture is built into the IKEA way of doing things and is the basis of the IKEA culture and values.

Barely getting by
Småland is a harsh and stony region that has left its marks on the area’s culture. Between 1850 and 1920, over a third of the Swedish population emigrated to America. In some parishes in Småland as many as 80 percent left their homeland. Imagine leaving behind everything and everyone you know for the complete unknown. The mass emigration tells us more about how miserable Småland was than how promising the USA seemed.

Stony region, fertile culture
But tough conditions are the most fertile soil for creativity and ingenuity. Smålanders learned to find practical and sometimes unconventional solutions to the many problems of daily life. They learned to do it “here and now.” They learned to use the scarce resources and make the best out of them. Above all, they learned how to work hard together to survive and make progress. The IKEA key values of togetherness, renew and improve, and cost-consciousness grew from this background.

Entrepreneurial people
Småland became known for its high level of entrepreneurship. Its people got the reputation for being thrifty and innovative with a straightforward approach to problem-solving - especially when it came to business challenges.

The old Swedish encyclopaedia Nordisk familjebok said: “The Smålandian is by nature awake and smart, diligent and hard-working yet compliant, cunning and crafty, which gives them the advantage of being able to move through life with little means.”

 

Nurturing our emerging culture

Starting out with a family spirit
Ingvar Kamprad started his business on a very small scale on the farm Elmtaryd in the village of Agunnaryd. In 1943 he turned 17 and registered his firm as IKEA (an abbreviation of Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd). In the spirit of “using what’s available,” he engaged friends and family as his first co-workers.

We had a lot of fun together,” said Anna-Greta Bolö, one of the first co-workers at Elmtaryd in the early 1950s. “And I can’t tell you how important that special family feeling was. Giving one another a hug now and then when we’d done something good.”

A shared culture
The circle of co-workers grew slowly but steadily with other local people, who shared the same spirit and liked to work together. A handful of pioneers became a few dozen, which then became a few hundred. Most of the co-workers came from Småland, and they understood Ingvar’s idea of serving the many. After all, IKEA was for people like themselves.

Growing IKEA and keeping the culture strong
The more the business grew, the more important it became for all new co-workers to become part of the IKEA culture. By the mid-1970s, the business had expanded outside Sweden and employed several thousand co-workers. Ingvar took two steps to make sure the original spirit of IKEA remained:

  • In 1976, he wrote The Testament of a Furniture Dealer that describes and reinforces the IKEA culture. 

  • In 1985 he introduced the IKEA Way Program - a training program that enables IKEA people to better understand the IKEA way of being and doing. 

Both are still an important part of our business today.

Nurturing our unique culture today
Today, well over 200,000 co-workers develop, produce, supply, market and sell IKEA products across the world – and the number grows every day. As IKEA expands in markets far away from where things started, it is even more important to nurture the unique IKEA culture, which is ours alone and sets us apart from all others.

 

The IKEA vision, business idea and culture

Our IKEA vision, business idea and culture, guides us in everything we do and is more relevant today than ever before.

The IKEA vision – why we are here
Our vision is "to create a better everyday life for the many people". Every word in this statement gives us inspiration and guidance.

We side with the many people and embrace development that make people’s everyday lives at home better. By keeping their best interests in mind, we can create positive change for families, communities and societies. We also believe, that whatever we are doing today, we can do a bit better tomorrow. Because, like our founder Ingvar Kamprad, once said: “Happiness is not reaching your goal, happiness is being on the way”.

The IKEA business idea – what we want to achieve
If our vision tells us why we exist, our business idea tells us what we want to achieve. Our business idea is "to offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them".

The way we go about this job is led by what we call Democratic Design. That is our view on how to create products that are worthy of the IKEA Brand and worthy of the many people. Democratic Design helps us to develop only products that have a beautiful design and good function, are sustainable, of good quality and are available at a low price.

The IKEA culture and values – how we do it
A strong IKEA business is dependent on a strong IKEA culture. It breeds trust and contributes significantly to a more efficient and effective IKEA organisation, which in turn sets us apart from others and helps us make a better IKEA for more of the many people.

In short, a strong IKEA culture inspires, challenges and empowers us to:

  • work together – creating stronger relationships with each other.

  • find better ways – nurturing an environment that brings out the entrepreneurs in us.

  • get things done – taking responsibility, making decisions, and not giving up. 

  • lead by example – bringing out the best in ourselves and others.

 

The IKEA culture and values

Our values are the compass that guides us in our everyday ways of being and doing things. Our culture is formed when we put these values into action.
In short it’s about:

  • work together – creating stronger relationships with each other.

  • find better ways – nurturing an environment that brings out the entrepreneurs in us.

  • get things done – taking responsibility, making decisions, and not giving up. 

  • lead by example – bringing out the best in ourselves and others.

To further guide us in our everyday decisions and actions, we find strength and support in the 8 IKEA key values.

 

The 8 IKEA Key Values

Togetherness
Togetherness is at the heart of the IKEA culture. We are strongest when we trust each other, pull in the same direction and have fun together.

Caring for people and planet
We want to be a force for positive change. We have the possibility to make a significant and lasting impact — today and for the generations to come.

Cost-consciousness
As many people as possible should be able to afford a beautiful and functional home. We constantly challenge ourselves and others to make more from less without compromising on quality.

Simplicity
A simple, straightforward and down-to-earth way of being is part of our Smålandic heritage. It is about being ourselves and staying close to reality. We are informal, pragmatic and see bureaucracy as our biggest enemy.

Renew and improve
We are constantly looking for new and better ways forward. Whatever we are doing today, we can do better tomorrow. Finding solutions to almost impossible challenges is part of our success and a source of inspiration to move on to the next challenge.

Different with a meaning
We are not like other companies and we don’t want to be. We like to question existing solutions, think in unconventional ways, experiment and dare to make mistakes - always for a good reason.

Give and take responsibility
We believe in empowering people. Giving and taking responsibility are ways to grow and develop as individuals. Trusting each other, being positive and forward-looking inspires everyone to contribute to development.

Lead by example
We see leadership as an action, not a position. We look for people’s values before competence and experience. People who ‘walk the talk’ and lead by example. It is about being our best self and bringing out the best in each other.