How to build ownership – write your own lottery ticket.

How can we get employees to take more interest in the organisation and take more ownership of their role within it? This little experiment might show you how.

Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist I admire alot. In a TED talk he shared some surprising results of an experiment. During the experiment, half the participants were randomly assigned a lottery ticket, the other half were given a blank piece of paper and asked to write down a lottery number on the ticket. Researchers then offered to buy back the tickets from the participants. Given that a lottery is pure chance, rationally you might think participants would feel equally ambivalent or excited about their ticket, whether they wrote the number or not, and value it accordingly. However, researchers found they HAD TO PAY AT LEAST FIVE TIMES MORE to those who wrote down their own number.

So it seems that when we choose for ourselves, we are much more committed to the outcome, by a factor of at least five to one.

What are the implications for business?

How often do we try to implement change across a business from a top down approach?

Do we ever provide opportunities for individuals to create and articulate their own stories of change and success?

Individuals should be given opportunities to ‘write their own lottery ticket’ to build ownership and commitment. It will take longer, but the commitment and buy in will likely shorten implementation by a factor of five to one.