One of the reasons IKEA is so successful is its great innovation culture and leadership. There is a lot you can learn from this multinational furniture retailer.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” is the famous Peter Drucker quote we all know. Yet too often, companies get stuck in discussing innovation strategy and processes while ignoring the fact that their culture is the root cause for their lack of innovation. What you need: a culture of innovation. Who you have to be: a leader who knows how to sustain this environment.


What are Innovation Culture and Leadership?

In an innovation culture, creative thinking is stimulated, smart failures are celebrated (because they provide a learning opportunity), and employees are empowered to initiate and execute innovation. This calls for leaders who are committed, who are personally involved, and who reward innovation.


IKEA’s Innovation Culture

One of the reasons the multinational furniture retailer IKEA is so successful is its great innovation culture and leadership. It consists of 3 elements as described by digital marketer Paul Shepherd:

  1. Communication

By communicating with customers about its innovation strategy, consumers know there is a wide range of products to buy—from simple bookcases (Billy) to smart illumination (Tradfri). Without this great communication, I doubt if half of the people you know would have IKEA products in their homes.

  1. Openness to new ideas and approaches to innovation

From top management to internal innovation experts, IKEA involves almost everyone in developing its innovation strategy. The result is amazing; it manages to apply innovation in everything it does. Take for example IKEA’s innovative ways of promotion such as pop-up advertising and a moving showroom.

  1. Innovation management

At IKEA, all the changes related to innovation come directly from top management. The organizational and governance structure is completely aligned with innovation. Furthermore, through key performance indicators (KPIs), innovation achievements and milestones are measured precisely.


Are You Ingvar Kamprad 2.0?

Are you a leader like IKEA’s Ingvar Kamprad that knows how to organize innovation properly? To assess yourself, you should ask the following questions:

  • Does our organization create sufficient opportunities for creative thinking?
  • Are our leaders personally involved in key innovation projects?
  • Do we allow and celebrate smart failures?
  • Do employees feel empowered to support and initiate innovation?
  • Are our people incentivized on innovation?

I hope you have answered “yes” to at least 3 or more of these questions. If you answered in the affirmative less than 3 times, you really have some work to do!

It is also insightful to compare yourself to the competition. Our Innovation Readiness Benchmark is designed to do this and to identify the key improvement areas your organization needs to address to become a best-in-class innovator. Click here to test the innovation power of your organization!