Leadership Lessons from IKEA

constructive culture

by Aubrey Patterson


The IKEA Effect is a fascinating part of our psychological operating system. Understanding how to use it is hugely advantageous for every leader. 

Simply put, people who expend effort or experience difficulty in accomplishing something will be happier than if that result had come to them easily. 

Anyone who has worn out fingers putting together a Poäng chair with an allen wrench fully understands this mix of relief and satisfaction that comes with sitting in that completed chair.

Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig. - Gladwell

Labor of Love

Of course, not only IKEA applies this effect to their advantage. We see similar results in Subway restaurants, at u-pick fruit farms, and with parents who get their children to help cook vegetables that might otherwise go uneaten. 

Harvard researchers closely studied this direct correlation between labor and love and found that the IKEA Effect can lead us to think, 'If I'm part of the process, I'll believe the final product is better, regardless of the quality of that result.' 

People assign significantly more value to objects they imagined, created, or assembled. 
Norton, Mochon, and Ariely

We always care more when something is ours. Powerfully positive cultures are effectively built when people exercise their imaginations, passions, and skills. 

By encouraging and allowing others to contribute in meaningful ways, synergistic leaders can build incredible leadership capacity in their people. 

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