We all know that cutting edge, disruptive ideas need champions to move them forward… but when does it become time to let an internal opportunity die for the good of the organization? Researchers from Harvard have previously defined something called the “IKEA effect” in which consumers tend to over-value, and even love, those products in which they invest their labor. Unfortunately the implication for innovation managers has a flip-opposite effect.


Over-valuing a project in which one’s labor is heavily invested can lead to organizational pitfalls such as 1) Sunk Cost Effects – the desire to put more resources into something that has already has seen significant capital commitment, no matter how well its working, or 2) the Not Invented Here Syndrome – in which managers refuse to leverage perfectly good options developed elsewhere, in favor of their own, sometimes inferior, internally developed idea. 


While highly innovative projects tend to magnify the situation, and projects that managers conceive of and work on from the beginning are most prone to “IKEA effect” over valuation, the need for internal, passionate, innovation champions are still critical and should not be ignored. Instead, an innovation team’s goal could be better served by moving away from measuring success with internal project management-structured KPI’s, and creating a new focus on placing lots of small bets, failing fast, and looking for unique solutions that fall outside of their wheelhouse. At Mission Field we strongly believe in the need to place small bets and fail fast – which is why we’d developed both our Lightning Strike™ Concept Development process and our MicroBurst™ Weekend Retail Test process to allow for fast iterations and fast fails.      


·       For an abstract on the IKEA effect research, click here: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/11-091.pdf

·       To listen to a quick audio story about the IKEA effect, click here: http://one.npr.org/?sharedMediaId=171177695:171257454

·       To learn more about Lightning Strike™ Concept Development: click here

·       To Learn more about Microburst™ Retail Testing: click here