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Fragments II: micro stories about the learning business

When School Leaders Redesign the IKEA Experience

Dear Members of the IKEA Experience Team

Writing this letter feels a little like my 7-year old self writing a letter to Santa, except that, this time, I’m not expecting anything in return.

I would, however, like to let you know that, over the past few months, hundreds of school leaders from Perth to Vancouver (and many places in between) have begun to reflect on what it means to intentionally design the experience of school for families, students, even employees, at each stage of the Lifecycle of School Experience.

You might be particularly interested to know that our entry into the wonderful world of Experience Strategy has always tended to begin in the same way, with a conversation about the highs and lows of a trip through one of your stores and the “magic” of those 50 cent hot dogs we all seem to enjoy at the end of a Saturday afternoon shopping spree.

A photograph of an aisle of boxes in IKEA

None of us, of course, would pretend to be experts in the sale of furniture and other household items. It’s just that, sometimes, it is much easier to reimagine an experience of something that we are not responsible for, than one (in our case, education) we are.

So, as incredulous as it might seem, over the last few months hundreds of school leaders around the world have spent at least 15 minutes of their life assuming the role of an IKEA experience designer. They’ve had a go at re-engineering the experience, based on their own experience as (mainly) regular customers; and we’ve collected dozens of potential solutions and ideas for your consideration.

Of course, we were not restricted by tedious things like budget or real-world feasibility. Released into this arena of serious play, the volume in the room always went up and body language inevitably became more animated. And wherever we are in the world, it is remarkable that the same solutions keep being “invented”.

So, at risk of repeating what you already know, here’s a top five list, from our leaders to yours.

1. Navigation. When it comes to customer journeys, you guys certainly design a long one. And finding the right boxes at the end can sometimes feel like geocaching. So, not surprisingly, many of the solutions were focused on finding your way around more easily, more efficiently, and with more secret pathways along the way.

2. Technology accelerators. The IKEA digital assistant keeps popping up as an idea in the form of an App that tells you where to park, what’s in stock, where to find it, or just how to build it when you get home.

3. Visualisation. Related to the above, it seems that we can’t always decide what is going to fit in our homes and what isn’t. We’d love more visualisation tools that help us imagine in advance what our home will be like once the contents of our trolley are finally unpacked. For many, we’d even like the option of an IKEA hotel to try some of the products first hand.

4. A human touch. Whilst we’d love that all singing app, if we had our way, we’d bring a greater human touch to each store. Personal shoppers would be most welcome, especially if (for an extra fee) they could share their expert advice while driving us around on a golf cart.

5. The problem (sic) of children. There is so much appreciation for the childcare provision that you offer to our young children. But we invite you to take it one step further. Can our older children be given the opportunity to learn how to make and build for themselves? Could we ever envisage an IKEA academy that trains young people to be the next generation of designers, builders, flat-pack problem solvers? If nothing else, many of us could use their help when we get home to put your products together, without ending up with all those extra screws.

We hope that these insights from educators will be of some interest to you. As it happens these top 5 might be just as relevant to the field of education, but that is another story.

Most of all, however, we’d like to thank you for the opportunity that you have afforded us to start doing the same “re-imagining” in our own schools, mapping the journey of families, and making sure that we’re intentional about everything that we do.

Thanks also for the hot dogs!

With kind regards.

Photo by tommao wang on Unsplash.



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