IKEA CEO Jesper Brodin Shares IKEA’s Transformation Journey

I recently had the honor of speaking with Jesper Brodin, CEO of IKEA (Ingka Group) about the retailer’s transformation journey, and the words he used have stuck with me ever since:

Listening.

Shared values.

Honesty.

Exploration.

Joy.

You can check out our conversation here:

These words are the root of IKEA’s narrative for the future, a guide to help the company understand how it can remain confident even as it faces a changing world and works to reinvent itself. Like many organizations, IKEA had a great origin story, but over time success led the organization to become, in Brodin’s view, in danger of complacency.

Change everything, almost

When he assumed the role of CEO in 2017, his first step was to listen. After a global tour and time spent with IKEA employees at all different levels and roles within the organization, Brodin went home and mapped out their ideas, wishes, and questions. Strikingly, he realized that IKEA had already told him what the company needed to do—these conversations became IKEA’s strategic direction.

The power of embracing a narrative literally born out of the organization helped the company face a time of change and exploration with confidence and joy, knowing that while their core values and offering would endure they had a serious responsibility to change and create a better future.

This kind of approach to the future—with a focus on people first and technology second—is exactly the kind of behavioral transformation that the world desperately needs. Brodin has, through intuition and experience, landed upon the same core principles that SU has also successfully deployed to create change in Fortune 40 organizations:

  1. To lead your organization through change, you need a compelling strategic narrative that shows where the future is heading and convinces people to come with you.
  2. Transformation needs to be aligned with and to your culture: the nomenclature, ways of working, and values of your organization must be taken into account for your strategy to be adopted.
  3. If you listen carefully—to your team, your insights, and what is happening in the world around you—you might just find your transformational strategy is right before you.

Start your own transformation journey

These are exactly the kinds of traits and skills we will be exploring in our upcoming online course, Understanding Behavioral Transformation. Over four weeks, you will learn how the way our brain works impacts our ability to transform, and how to use strategic narrative, psychological archetypes, and experimental design to make meaningful changes within your organization. Hope to see you there.