The story of cake mix is a good lesson that strongly resonates with me when I think about office psychology.
In the 1950’s, General Mills, under Betty Crocker brand, created the perfect product : a cake mix where all ingredients were in the package, including milk and eggs in powdered form. Housewives only had to add water, mix it all together, and stick the pan in the oven. Fantastic product, isn’t it!
The perfect product failed. Why?
Since the housewives were not investing any time or effort in the process, they didn’t develop any sense of ownership. In simple words, it brought them no joy/fulfillment to prepare such an easy cake.
General Mill changed the recipe so that housewives could bring more value to the preparation by adding some fresh eggs to the cake mix. By putting this effort in the preparation of the cake, they felt more proud of the final product.
Source: Psychology Today
Apply this simple psychology concept in the office
Sometimes you may think that it’s easier, simpler, more efficient to prepare the work in advance so that your team only needs to execute. That’s ok if you work with robots. If you work with people that you value and care for, you need to create the spark to help them take ownership and find meaning in what they are doing. Let your people contribute! Let your people add their egg to the cake!
It could be as simple as letting them prepare a roadmap for an initiative, comment on a document or presentation, participate in scheduling activities, make suggestion on how to optimize a process etc.
PEOPLE SUPPORT WHAT THEY HELP CREATE
Not only your team will feel good about their contribution, feel valued and recognized, develop a sense of ownership, they will also bring some relevant comments and valuable feedback. It’s a real WIN.
If you want to read more about how to improve ownership in your teams, check out this older post How can you get more engagement in your team with TOFU?
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