Over the weekend, I stumbled upon the solution to our economic woes: Ikea.
My epiphany wasn’t the result of performance research, extensive data mining or an MRI of Paul Krugman’s brain.
I was just trying to put together some new office furniture.
Whenever I attempt home assembly, my mind tends to wander. This may explain why my home office most resembles Picasso, the Cubist years.
But Ikea changed all that — and if I may be so bold, revealed itself as the avatar to lead us out of our current economic smackdown.
For the uninitiated, Ikea is the brainchild of Ingvar Kamprad, the “IK” in Ikea. As an enterprising young Swede, Kamprad bought stick matches, pencils and flower seeds in bulk and peddled them door-to-door on his bicycle — no mean feat in winter.
The fact that Ingvar lived in southern Sweden gives you some appreciation for his sound judgment.
As Ikea grew to its current status as the world’s hip purveyor of international design at affordable prices, its massive showrooms became a mecca for young moderns.
In some states, the law requires everyone under 30 to own a Poang bookcase and a Klippan sectional or risk a court-imposed Walmart home makeover.
Which brings me to my lovely new Vika Amon desk with nickel Vika Moliden underframe and matching Jonas rolling file. (Ikea apparently employs a phalanx of cherub-cheeked toddlers with alphabet blocks to “develop” its product names.)
Here’s the thing: The assembly instructions, which ran to more than 16 pages, contained NOT ONE WORD! In any language! Only line drawings, step numbers, arrows and product numbers to guide me.
No more scrambled crypto-directions that always seem to omit the one critical modifier that could have prevented you having to undo a half-dozen steps.
No words! Of course! Brilliant!
And it fits perfectly with the Ikea philosophy, which is sort of Swedish for “no idiot left behind.”
And I mean that as a compliment.
More inclusion, less bull
Would the TARP legislation or the Economic Recovery Act have suffered had nouns been reduced to dollar signs and numerals and verbs replaced by arrows? Would we have had less accountability for where our money went?
I think not.
Ikea is all about involvement and inclusion. By involving us, whether in assembling its flat-shipped products at home or busing our own table in its colorful cafeteria, Ikea is able to deliver real value — and a killer chicken Caesar salad.
Can the Fed say the same?
Next week, I’m going back to Ikea for its computer cable management system.
Maybe then I’ll be able to unravel the health care mess.
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