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Reflections on TED: Should Workers Have More Choice?

Re: The TED lecture from Sheena Lyengar on Choosing

In Sheena Lyengar's lecture on Choosing, (watch below) she discusses the American culture of choice.  While another favorite TED lecture – Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce – reinforces our desire (or is it a compulsion?) for choice. Lyengar's lecture contrasts America vs. other culture's perspective on choice, which is interesting.  But the question within the question is: if choice is so important to us, and having a choice even can significantly increase our efficiency and accomplishment, then how can we use this information to improve our workplace productivity? 

Lyengar discusses a study where a group of children were given a project to work on.  Some were told which activity to do, and some were given a choice in which activity to work on and how they could perform it.  The result?  Although they all performed the same activity, the American children performed 2 1/2 times better when empowered with choice.   But, to quote Ms. Lyengar, "If the task was dictated to them by another, their performance suffered." 

So,again, the question: what would happen to American productivity if people had more of a choice in what jobs they do and how they do them? 

Recently, when I was on a panel of "Innovation Experts" a member of the audience asked if the people who come up with the ideas for a project should be the ones who work on the project, or if it should be delegated to the people who normally fill the jobs.  While one of my fellow panelists said the latter, more traditional approach, I strongly disagreed.  The question I asked:

Where is the Ownership? 

If employees don't have a chance to choose the projects they work on – and, especially if they can't work on their own ideas, companies are significantly reducing their efficiency and effectiveness. 

Choice is a critical component of Ownership.

Ownership is crucial.

Ownership enhances employee engagement.

Ownership improves retention.

Ownership increases productivity.

How would you rate your company on choice, ownership and productivity?  What improvements could you make?  Please share your thoughts below.

DrawSuccess, when implemented effectively, is a key influencer or Ownership.  Now only do teams get an opportunity to generate their ideas and solutions, the process itself, being a "bottom-up" approach vs. the traditional, yet oppressive top-down management style, empowers employees to significantly higher levels of engagement. 

All this from a Game? 

You won't believe it until you try it.  To learn more about DrawSuccess, Contact Us.