Online Extra: "Positive Fanatics": Ikea's Credo

Excerpts from Ingvar Kamprad's essay reveal a fierce work ethic, dedication to simplicity, and intolerance for wastefulness

Ingvar Kamprad's 12-page essay, "A Furniture Dealer's Testament," serves as the basic primer for Ikea employees. Written in plain style, the document reveals Kamprad -- the Swedish retailer's founder -- as an idealist with a steely will to win. Here's a selection:

On growth

It is our duty to expand....Those who cannot or will not join us are to be pitied.... Let us continue to be a group of positive fanatics who stubbornly and persistently refuse to accept the impossible, the negative. What we want to do, we can do and will do, together. A glorious future!

On fallibility:

Only while sleeping one makes no mistakes.

On the use of time:

Divide your life into 10-minute units, and sacrifice as few as possible in meaningless activity.

On simplicity:

Bureaucracy complicates and paralyzes! Exaggerated planning is the most common cause of corporate death....We do not need fancy cars, posh titles, tailor-made uniforms, or other status symbols. We rely on our strength and our own will!

On solutions:

Expensive solutions to any kind of problem are usually the work of mediocrity. We have no respect for a solution until we know what it costs.

On accomplishment:

The feeling of having finished something is an effective sleeping pill. A person who retires feeling that he has done his bit will quickly wither away. A company that feels it has reached its goal will quickly stagnate and lose its vitality.

On happiness:

Happiness is not reaching your goal. Happiness is being on the way.... The word impossible has been, and must remain, deleted from our dictionary.

On Ikea:

What is good for our customers is also, in the long run, good for us. This is an objective that carries obligations.... The objective must be to encompass the total home environment; that is, to offer furnishings and fittings for every part of the home whether indoors or outdoors.... It must reflect our way of thinking by being as simple and straightforward as we are ourselves. It must be durable and easy to live with. It must reflect an easier, more natural, and unconstrained way of life.

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