Wednesday, 21 May 2014

IKEA effect for improvement projects

The IKEA effect is the tendency for people to place a disproportionately high value on objects that they assembled themselves, such as furniture from IKEA, regardless of the quality of the end result (Wikipedia definition).

Unfortunately the same effect appears in many improvement projects I encounter, no doubt due to the same issues. After the investment of over coming the complexities of getting the thing working, the emotions involved, the panics, the restarts, etc etc, it's inconceivable there could be anything better. It's also inconceivable to throw it away and start again or replace it within living memory.

If the project has a great result, then that's just perfect. However, where the result is less than good, it's this IKEA effect that comes into play and makes the problem difficult to resolve. It's also known as inventoritis - when we fall in love with our inventions and lose the ability to customise them on the basis of feedback.

Do check your improvement work today. IKEA effect?

Monday, 19 May 2014

The outdoors is my preference for a classroom

My job title of "Senior Explorer" might surprise those who expect the more formal Director, or President, or Consultant - but it more accurately explains what I do.  I tend not to direct, preside or consult - but I do explore... Most importantly, I am spending more and more of my time with my clients in the wonderful classroom called the outdoors. It's a marvelous antidote to Powerpoint, fluorescent lighting, stale air and aching backs.

Sometimes a short walk around the grounds of the hospital is enough, or a half hour stroll through the neighbouring streets can get the minds shifting into another gear. Or we can be a bit more ambitious and go for a walk into the Chiltern Hills or around the grounds of a National Trust property where I can lead a small group through some high level and detail of analogies in organisational change. There's a great deal to learn from plants, insects, the weather, trees etc. - and that's before the bodies have loosened up and the brains have been given permission to be a bit more creative.

Appleacre Adventures is a division of my company. If you're feeling really adventurous I can lead you on a two week expedition through the desert in Namibia - or maybe an overnighter on canal boat reflecting on the large scale change theory and practice of the Victorians and the applicability of their principles for the public sector in 21st Britain will suffice for you... Or maybe you'd prefer a few hours of guided personal reflection "on the hoof"?

What I've learnt is that outdoors, the quality of the learning and the radicalness of the thinking is significantly increased.  And it's not just a walk - for those of you who know me - I've invested a great deal in ensuring I understand how to leverage the benefits of outdoor learning.

Monday, 12 May 2014

When over efficiency means less productivity

I was, at first, speechless when I heard about an NHS friend who spend part of her work days perched on the edge of another colleague's desk because there wasn't enough space for her to work. I hadn't heard about the Government Policy, introduced in 2011 that for administrative areas, there should be only 8 desks provided for 10 people - this is called Agility working. Huh?

You can read about this cost saving exercise here: If you want to see the NHS business case document on how it is built into cases then you can find this here (item 23): 

Now I am all for cost saving and inefficiencies but there's something not working if someone is trying to do their job balancing their laptop on the corner of a desk, wires trailing, knees wrapped round edges etc. Apart from anything it's not respectful.  I'd not put up with it, but then, even in the administrative areas of the NHS, there's fear and concern for jobs.


I've not blogged for a while. I was waiting until I had something I really wanted to say.  I think it's time to speak out and to speak up. So I'm going to start doing just that.