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Monday, February 11, 2013

If YOU build it, they won't come (around)

If we want to change the “story” of bullying prevention from just “a problem to solve” to an opportunity for positive overall growth and improvement, we would be wise to remember what social psychologists call the Ikea effect. 

The IKEA Effect refers to the tendency for people to value things they have created/built themselves more than if made by someone else – in fact, nearly as much as if an expert had created the same item.  This is based on research done by Michael Norton, Daniel Mochon and Daniel Ariely and published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology 22 (2012) 453-460.

They called it the Ikea effect because Ikea furniture doesn’t come assembled but requires the buyer to put it together.  The act of assembling the furniture increases the person's  appreciation of the product and their estimation of its value.  We have all experienced this in almost anything we do from cooking a meal, writing a poem, or growing something in our garden-what we put into it affects how we feel about it and end up responding to it. 

Using the Ikea effect is an essential way of dealing with the 5 simple truths of helping that I mentioned in a previous post.  This is why is it so important not to impose problems and solutions on people.  Although it might take longer, people first need to become invested and involved in learning about a problem and what it will take to address it.

It is better to provide the right environment, resources, and the right questions for reflection for people as they begin to encounter the problem of bullying and all that it implies.  This is what I call “leading the learning” which is most effective approach a school leader can take in addressing any problem or change initiative.

Since the “Root canal or Right to Know” type of story is already associated with bullying prevention is schools, school leaders must realize that they cannot change the story by just telling people a new story-a more heroic story driven by moral purpose(PIXAR type story).  Old stories get stuck in people’s heads and don’t move aside when someone starts to tell a new or different one.  If the story of bullying prevention is going to change in people’s hearts and minds, they must be involved in discovering and creating a new story. 

The Ikea effect assumes that the person has chosen to shop at Ikea or start a garden or write a poem.  This cannot be assumed in schools especially regarding bullying prevention.   To get people to even start the process requires that people first and foremost trust their leadership and feel that their input is not just valued but essential to the entire process of change.  If you want bullying prevention to be meaningful and effective (your final product or outcome), you must be very attentive and careful about the process you use to get it.  This is why the mandates and pressures for stopping any problem immediately often force school leaders to impose solutions.  This once again becomes getting compliance at the expense of commitment.  “Looking good” becomes more important than really “doing good”.  This is the story that has to change.

How do you get a quality product or outcome?  It is usually the result of a team effort where all members’ voices are heard and ultimately contribute to the process of developing plans, strategies and solutions.
If we want to change the bullying prevention story so that it becomes like a PIXAR story, we need to embrace the how a PIXAR story or movie is made.  Their quality is directly related to their process (teaming in the truest sense of the word).  They value, nurture and appreciate every member of their organization.  (If you would like to see a documentary about how the PIXAR approach works, there is a 15 minute special feature on the DVD of Ratatouille that shows the director Brad Bird leading his team in creating the movie together.)

School leaders must remember that WE must become the key word in how they approach any problem or school change initiative.   If WE build it, staff/students will not only come around, they will own, use and love the change and the school.

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