Ingvar Kamprad's Testament of a Furniture Dealer


Ingvar Kamprad [Photo from]

H/T to @BlasMoros for sharing this.

IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad passed away on Jan 27, 2018.

Ingvar founded IKEA in 1943 at age 17. He led the company from a small mail order business selling Bic pens into the world’s largest furniture retailer. In FY 2017, IKEA reported $40.2 billion in sales.

In 1976, Ingvar Kamprad clearly laid out the unique IKEA way in a company memo called “The Testament of a Furniture Dealer”. The memo is broken down into 9 parts:

  1. The product range - our identity
  2. The IKEA spirit - a strong and living reality
  3. Profit gives us resources
  4. Reaching good results with small means
  5. Simplicity is a virtue
  6. Doing it a different way
  7. Concentration
  8. Taking responsibility - a privilege
  9. Most things still remain to be done. A glorious future!

You should read and internalize the memo in its entirety. Below are 7 highlights:


“For those of you who bear any kind of leadership responsibility, it is crucially important to motivate and develop your co-workers. A team spirit is a fine thing, but it requires everybody in the team to be dedicated to their tasks. You, as the captain, make the decisions after consulting the team. There is no time for argument afterwards. Take a football team as your model!”

Profits gives us resources

“The aim of our effort to build up financial resources is to reach a good result in the long term. You know what it takes to do that: we must offer the lowest prices, and we must combine them with good quality. If we charge too much, we will not be able to offer the lowest prices. If we charge too little, we will not be able to build up resources. A wonderful problem!”


“Exaggerated planning is the most common cause of corporate death.”


“Our protest against convention is not protest for its own sake: it is a deliberate expression of our constant search for development and improvement.”


“‘Lista’ is common term in Småland; it means ‘making do’, doing what you have to do with an absolute minimum of resources.”

Taking Responsibility

“Our objectives require us to constantly practise making decisions and taking responsibility, to constantly overcome our fear of making mistakes. The fear of making mistakes is the root of bureaucracy and the enemy of development.


“The finest victories are those without losers.”

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The Finest Victories Are Those Without Losers

I enjoyed his lead in:

All nations and societies in both the East and West spend a disproportionate amount of their resources on satisfying a minority of the population. In our line of business, for example, far too many of the fine designs and new ideas are reserved for a small circle of the affluent That situation has in influenced the formulation of our objectives.”


Dr. George Washington Carver was a perfect example of ‘Lista’ - doing what you have to do with an absolute minimum of resources.

George Washington Carver was hired by Booker T. Washington - Tuskegee Institution’s President - to help economically emancipate African American farmers. Carver received no funding and had little to work with.

“Dr. Carver wanted an agricultural laboratory; there was neither equipment nor money. He wanted a school farm; the soil was defiant. He wanted grass on Tuskegee campus; there was only sand.”

Carver went ahead anyway.

“For heat he rigged up a salvaged barn lantern. His mortar was a heavy kitchen cup. Beakers were made by cutting off the tops of old bottles rescued from the school dump. He turned an ink bottle into an alcohol lamp and made his own wick; used a flat piece of iron for a pulverizer; jugs for flasks; a discarded kitchen skillet for a dryer.”

Carver had sixteen-acres to farm on. The land was sandy, eroded and impoverished. There was no money for fertilizer. That didn’t matter to George Washington Carver.

“He sent his students into the swamps and woods armed with baskets and pails. Day after day they brought back muck and leafmold and covered the ground with it. Within a year he had turned the loss from those acres into a profit.”

Carver explained: “Everyone told me that the soil was unproductive. But it was the only soil I had. It was not unproductive. It was only unused.”

He turned corn, cotton and sorghum stalks into insulating boards; produced paper from the branches of wisteria (also peanut plant); synthetic marble from wood shavings.

He created the first “mobile school” by converting a second-hand buggy, loaded it with exhibits, borrowed a horse and made regular tours of the countryside.

To help Southern farmers increase income, Carver found 300 new uses for peanut plants and distributed his finding to the masses. Peanut demand grew exponentially.

To demonstrate Carver’s “Lista” to a group in Tulsa, Carver spent an early morning on Sand Pipe Hill nearby. He came back with twenty-seven plants, all with medicinal properties.

He said:

“Then I went to Ferguson’s Drug Store and found seven patent medicines containing certain elements contained in those plants from Sand Pipe Hill. Those preparations were shipped in from New York. They should be shipped from Sand Pipe Hill. ‘Where there is no vision the people perish.’

Source: The Baltimore Sun (Nov 08, 1942)