💥 I Came In Like A Wrecking Ball 💥
The Ikea Effect and Charismatic Organizations
“Never do for others what they can do for themselves.”
“Josh, you’re a one-man wrecking crew.”
This is a direct quote from an adult who worked with me throughout high school.
It was not a compliment.
Join the Revolution
In essence, I was the leader in charge, but I wanted to do and sometimes did everyone else’s job. However, this adult pointed out that by doing everyone else’s job I was making an entire group feel as though their contributions were not valuable. Ultimately, people value leaders who help people build things on their own, as opposed to leaders who create a culture of dependency where everything falls apart if the leader walks away.
This is a tension I have fought my entire life; sometimes I succeed, and many times I don’t. But my sad but human story is a reminder that people always value things more when they do the work, even when it is better to let the expert take control.
I’m not very handy.
Let me rephrase: I’m not handy at all (unless you count knowing how to reset the Wifi or put fresh batteries in the Fire Stick, which I don’t). Maybe Tim Taylor traumatized me as a child; I’m a puzzle.
I suppose that I could be good with tools if I had bothered to learn, but I didn’t. But to be honest, even if I knew how to fix things, I’m worried that I will make a mistake and render the thing unbuildable.
Even things I buy from Ikea.
Task Rabbit has an entire channel just for me (and every other poor shnook who can’t even build an Ikea bookcase).
Turns out I would love a number of material possessions more if I actually built them on my own. Michael Norton, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely found that people place a higher value on products that they built themselves, what they call the “Ikea Effect,” an homage to Ikea’s business model where people buy products that require some assembly.The authors argue that there is a tension between “the arduous, unpleasant nature of tasks and their simultaneously rewarding properties”; somehow, building a bookshelf ourselves, in spite of the challenge, can make us value the end product more.
At the same time, the Ikea Effect also causes people to “people to value their creations as highly as the creations of experts,”no matter how absurd that sounds. I may bake a delicious cake, but that doesn’t get extra points when comparing my cake to a similar cake made by a Michelin-star pastry chef.
The implications of the Ikea Effect can enter multiple, sometimes contradictory, directions. For an organization, there is tremendous value in ensuring that people feel like they build things themselves and that the organization does not rely on the work of only a select few. However, just because people feel better when they make something themselves does not necessarily mean that it is better than what could be done by an expert. This heuristic does not fall into a neat box, but that’s what makes it fascinating.
The Charismatic Organization
Do you work in a charismatic organization?
Don’t make that face at me. (I feel your disapproval through your screen.)
“Charisma” is a term we typically associate with people, and the advantages and disadvantages of a leader’s charisma is an important topic for another issue. But this week’s parasha is an opportunity to introduce The Charismatic Organization, a fantastic book by Shirley Sagawa and Deborah Jospin.
When asked to describe the organizations I admire most, I typically think about organizations that have a deep bench, or an abundance of riches when looking at the staff and lay leaders who make that organization function. Even if one A-player leaves or steps aside, another great person steps in to fill the void. Sadly, too many organizations seem great at first glance, only to fall apart when a single key person steps away. This is one of many reasons we need fewer “one-person wrecking crews” in Jewish life.
Sagawa and Jospin identify the “charismatic” organization as one that achieves excellent results because it attracts people by “achieving powerful results and building a community that others want to join.”In particular, Sagawa and Jospin argue that charismatic organizations have high “social capital,” a “network of relationships that yield benefits to those who are part of the network.” This organizational charisma leads to the financial, human, and political capital that allows the organization to pursue its core mission and thrive philanthropically and programmatically, thereby creating a “continuing cycle of impact growth.”
Using Sagawa and Jospin’s paradigm, the building of the Mishkan was the kind of process that attempts to turn the Israelites into a charismatic nation. Of course, there are individuals who played significant roles in the process, such as Betzalel and Oholiab. However, the Torah goes to great lengths to demonstrate how much the entire nation became invested in this project.
The Cues That Make You Charismatic
I’ve never been sure why this podcast is called “The Art of Manliness,” but I’m a man and I think that the podcast is great. And better yet, 95% of the podcast is applicable to all gender identities.
Just as we should learn about what it means to be a charismatic organization, we should learn what it means to be a charismatic person.
Doing Less Is Hard When We’re Overwhelmed: When we have too much to do, the last thing we want to hear is that doing less is the best solution to our stress. But it probably is; read more.
Why It’s Hard to Speak Up Against Toxic Culture: In theory, we want to encourage leaders to speak out against toxic culture, but that is easier said than done. This article is dedicated to anyone I care about working in a toxic culture who wants to fight that toxicity.
Death By Personality Quiz: As you’re probably aware, I have a complicated relationship with personality tests, and AI will only increase the number of tests on the internet. Here’s a take on why that’s awful.
Why Bosses Point Fingers: A great boss gets creates space for their team to succeed and fail; a terrible boss punches down to pretend that they never fail themselves. The Economist has a powerful article on why pointing fingers leads to well-deserved failures.
Jewish Funders Network (JFN) and Impala Launch Partnership: Last week, JFN launched a partnership with Impala that can provide tremendous resources to organizations looking to easily access philanthropic data. Read more here.
Michael I. Norton, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely, “The “Ikea Effect”: When Labor Leads to Love,” Harvard Business School (2011).
Note: I also don’t bake. Turns out my only talent is quoting The West Wing, but I’m OK with my life choices.
Shirley Sagawa and Deborah Jospin, The Charismatic Organization (New York: Josey-Bass Publishers, 2008), 4.