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Leading By Design: The Ikea Story


Leading By Design: The Ikea StoryLeading by Design is really, of course, the story of Ingvar Kamprad, the Swedish furniture retailer who turned Ikea into a company that now has 41,000 workers at 150 stores in 30 countries who annually distribute 100 million catalogs and sell $6.25 billion in goods. And what a story it is. Based on extensive conversations with the subject, 100 additional interviews, and various documents both public and private, business journalist Bertil Torekull employs an unusual mixture of blunt first-person recollections and narrative overviews delivered with literary flair to peel away the intricacies of Kamprad's life. Along the way, Torekull reveals the creative forces that propelled Kamprad's distinctive entrepreneurial drive and fashioned a successful company. "Imagine one of the coldest little countries in the world. Think of the most barren part of that country. See in front of you a godforsaken place deep in the wild spruce forests," Torekull begins. "This book is about a man who grew up in that harsh environment, which was to mark his whole life and fundamentally color the philosophy with which he built his vast empire." Delving into a fascinating career that began taking shape at the unlikely age of 5, Torekull presents this tale in a way that entertains as well as educates.

Based on exclusive interviews with the legendary founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, Leading by Design tells the inside story of Kamprad's humble roots and of the visionary concepts and innovative strategies that turned a small, Swedish mail-order company into a worldwide commercial giant.

When in 1943 at age seventeen Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA, he had no way of knowing that IKEA would come to represent dedication to quality, a distinct design style, and convenience to the harried modern consumer. Today, more than 195 million people worldwide frequent his 150 stores in thirty countries, and almost 100 million catalogs are printed each year.

As the grandson of German immigrants who went to Sweden in search of a better life, Ingvar Kamprad grew up on a farm in a rural village. But he was no farmer. Early in his life, he discovered his natural affinity for business. From cigarette lighters and fish to Christmas cards and pens, young Ingvar devoted himself to importing and selling anything he thought he could make a profit on. Furniture was just one item in a long and fairly undistinguished list'until, in an effort to best his main competitor, he took a chance on an armless nursing chair he called Ruth. It quickly sold out. Adding a coffee table and then a sofa bed and then a chandelier, Kamprad was astonished by how quickly the merchandise moved.

The rest is business history. In Leading by Design, Bertil Torekull, a well-known Swedish journalist, reveals the genius and the secrets behind IKEA's extraordinary success. With candor and detail, he offers insights into Kamprad's cutting-edge management strategies, his enthusiasm to embrace innovative methods (such as producing ready-to-assemble merchandise and using a car door factory to produce affordable products with universal appeal), and the tools he used to grow the IKEA brand into a veritable industry unto itself.

More than a standard business history Leading by Design captures the essence of Kamprad himself. It is a testament to the inspiration, the ideas, and the innovations that make a good business great.

About the Author
Bertil Torekull is a journalist, the author of six books, and the founder of Sweden's top economic daily newspaper, Dagens Industri.

See Ingvar Kamprad Leader Profile


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