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IKEA’s Success Can’t Be Attributed to One Charismatic Leader | Harvard Business Review

IKEA’s success did not result from the kind of planful strategy development that is still taught in some business schools. Quite the contrary.  It has been mixture of emergence, haphazardness, and invention through necessity.  For example, when the first IKEA catalogue came out in 1951, many retailers had similar, mail-order business models. To crush the upstart, IKEA’s competitors started a price war, almost forcing the fledging IKEA into bankruptcy.  As a last-ditch response, Kamprad opened a small show room in the small town of Almhut, in Sweden in 1953.  The hope was customers would see, touch, and compare the furniture and the company would be able to claw its way back.  “I have never been so scared in my whole life”, he recalled in his memoir.  On the day of the opening, about 1,000 people queued outside the shop.  Literally overnight, a new business model emerged that sold through a showroom rather than by mail. It became a hallmark of the IKEA way.

Similarly, one day the team was packing away the furniture and a casual remark about how much space a pair of table legs took up led to another revolutionary idea: what would happen if we were to flat-pack our products?  The rest is history, but it was a unique offering at the time.

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IKEA’s Success Can’t Be Attributed to One Charismatic Leader.