Built-in not added on.
I'm working for the Great Recovery today. This is a project funded by the RSA and the TSB that tries to embed design more centrally in the circular economy. This is sensible. Indeed anything else is plain crazy. Design (product, service, emotional) solves problems of obsolescence (and creates them), longevity, material recovery, business risk, and business model disruption.
Today I'm at ikea in Milton Keynes. Looking at problems with bulky waste. I'm with an old mate - Charlie Browne - who's been working on sustainability at ikea since the 1990s. He's good at it. They're good at it. It's easy to see why. Everywhere I look the sustainability message is written large. Cafe walls. Screens. Car parks. Bike parks. Everywhere. Compare that with most other companies where, in my experience (I've visited well over a thousand businesses) health and safety dominates the internal culture. I'm not knocking health and safety. It's great. But it's about not taking risks. Ikea's approach to sustainability is about taking risks. About developing new products. Cycling to work.
It's clear that the culture is set. That it's strong. It's just what they do. Yeah I guess I'll get some responses saying they sell some products that aren't so great. That don't last. That we don't need. Maybe. But they are getting fewer. 25 year guarantees on kitchens can't be bad. I'm not an ikea brand advocate. But it feels different. It feels like they believe it. Testament to this is the fact that every meal they give the healthy option for free. To anyone. Everyday. It's because the core principles and values are right.
Well done Charlie. Well done Sweden.
For clarity: Ikea are hosting us today. Not paying me. Transparency is important.