The IKEA Effect – Projects Made with Love

Maybe the secret ingredient to project success is love.  After all, isn’t anything made with love more special to the maker and the receiver?  Maybe someone should do a study on this.  Wait, someone did!

The Ikea Effect says “labor enhances affection for its results.”  A recent study at Harvard written about by Michael Norton in Harvard Business Review found that people undervalue products that they don’t contribute to, and tend to overvalue – fall in love with – those on which they have labored. This study builds on marketing research from the 1950’s on cake mixes.  Housewives resisted instant cake mixes because they were too easy.  They were concerned that their labor to make the cake would be undervalued.  On the other hand, when the cake mixes were changed slightly requiring the cook to add an egg, adoption rose dramatically.  More labor = more love.ikea cake

The more recent study looked at IKEA furniture and Build-a-Bears.  Laypeople assemblers of bookcases and teddy bears tended to value the products of their labor higher than they valued more expertly crafted versions.

Another finding, to temper the thought that labor leads unconditionally to love, was that the work had to be completed for the IKEA Effect to take hold.  Partially finished work was not valued the same way.  You have to be able to step back from what you did, look proudly at it, and say “I did that.”  Kind of like I do when I finish each blog post.

There must be a lesson in here for our projects.  Continue reading

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Perfect Presentation

On Tuesday, I presented on “The Other Side of Risk” to my friends at PMI Olympia – our local chapter of the Project Management Institute.  Lots of familiar faces – well, not lots, but enough – showed up to hear what I had to say.  I told them that a perfect outcome for me would be if they left with some new ideas and I learned something.  So, I think it went perfectly.Presenting

I rambled on a bit trying to cover too much ground.  As I worked on my presentation over the couple of weeks preceding the big night, I kept refining it so it had a clearer theme.  Since it was about “The Other Side of Risk” an obvious theme would be to find opportunities during risk management.  I probably could have filled a comfortable 50 minute presentation with just that topic.  That was part of the presentation, but I seem to always go for more.  I got into different ways to present the idea of perfect outcomes and a perfect journey to get there.  I added ways to understand perfection in a useful way, define perfect outcomes, turn risks into opportunities for perfect outcomes, and define perfect journeys to perfect outcomes so that the scope of the project includes all the stuff you need to do to get to perfect outcomes, not just deliver a product. Continue reading

Positive Psychology and Perfect Project Outcomes

Finding the other side of risk – opportunities for perfect outcomes – isn’t done in lieu of finding risks; it’s the complement.  Science tells us that this is true and necessary.happiness

I’m getting ready again to present “The Other Side of Risk.”  Each time I do it’s a journey to a better understanding of what I’m trying to say.  This journey stumbled across the concept of “positive psychology.”  It’s reinforcement for the importance of seeking perfect outcomes and a perfect journey so that our projects leave our organizations better than we found them.

In my presentation, I talk a little about Appreciate Inquiry or AI.  AI is a technique of organizational planning and change that emphasizes finding and building on organizational strengths to promote positive growth.  In AI, the organization enquires into its strengths to: Continue reading

Talk the Talk to Walk the Talk to Project Success

Sometimes we are distracted from our goals by the stress of the moment.  Distractions can take our eyes off the outcomes we want from our projects.  After stress, we may take our next step away from stress instead of toward our goal.   Do this enough, and you get lost.  What can we do to keep from losing our way?

pormpuraawI heard an interesting Radio Lab on NPR today about how we find our way.  A brief segment of the show caught my “Other Side of Risk” antenna.  The hosts interviewed Dr. Lera Boroditsky, a professor at Stanford who studies how language shapes thought and behavior.  She described an Australian Aboriginal community, Pormpuraaw, whose language emphasized spatial orientation.  When people in Pormpuraaw greet one another, they say “Where are you going?”  The answer is always something like “North northeast in the middle direction.”  There are about 80 phrases in Pormpuraawan that describe spatial orientation and direction.  Pormpuraawans always pay attention to their spatial orientation and how to get where they want to go.  This seemed unusual, but according to Dr. Boroditsky, about one third of the world’s 7,000 languages are deeply rooted in spatial orientation. English isn’t one of them. Continue reading

Mosh Pit Portfolio Management

Should managing a portfolio of projects be like a mosh pit at a heavy metal concert, or like a waltz at the royal ball?  Maybe both.liturgy

This week showed good progress toward setting up portfolio management at my new organization.  But, by Friday afternoon I was really tired.  You know how your thoughts wander a bit when that happens.  Since I’ve been writing this blog, too often thoughts or experiences click on ideas for blog posts.  When we are really into something, our experiences all feed into our own frame of reference.  I was worried that I’m becoming unproductively obsessed.  Fortunately, I found out this week that I’m not unusual.

Continue reading