The Ikea Effect

Oh, Ikea.

You huge, blue and yellow home of delicious meatballs and adorable, modern furniture.

Have you ever put together a piece of furniture from this Swedish megastore? You open the box to find packets of tiny screws, various sized wood, and instructions that look like they were written in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. It’s hours of biting back frustration, undoing piece A-17 from under piece S-5, and arguing about whether you put the drawer in backward or not. Until finally, you step back and survey your shiny, brand new, desk.

The feelings that accompany this process are numerous: frustration, anger, despair, uncertainty, and finally, once the project is complete – euphoria.

You did it! You made that desk with your own two hands. You are the master builder. You can accomplish anything. It’s the most beautiful desk in the world.

When people come to your home, you proudly show them your handiwork.

Your guests may see a nice desk, but they will never view it in the same light as you. That’s because people value something more if they invest time and effort into it. You spent the time building it, so it takes on more significant meaning.

This idea is called the Ikea Effect.  

Builders experience feelings of pride and competence that comes with completing the task on their own. Because they have to put the pieces together themselves, they are more invested in it and wind up believing the furniture is worth more than it truly is.

As leaders, we can use this concept to our advantage. The Ikea Effect is one of the best ways to keep team members engaged and generate a stronger feeling of affection for the organization they are serving.

Do you have a new initiative you are trying to get your team to buy into and aren’t sure where to start?

Ask the crew to give their input, allow them to contribute to the start-up process, and empower them to make decisions.

Give the team complete control over aspects of the project (with minor instructions) and then take a step back.

What you are doing is creating ownership.

When people build something from the ground up, they feel a sense of possession, proprietorship, and shared control. Because they feel invested in the successful completion of the project, team members are more inclined to show their support and fall in love with the plan.

Ready to create a team of people who are fanatic about your organization?

Put them to work.

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