In this Harvard Business Review article, a famous experiment demonstrated that when participants who had chosen their own lottery numbers were offered an opportunity to sell the ticket back, they typically wanted five times the price asked by those who had been assigned random numbers. In other words, when we choose for ourselves, we are far more committed to the outcome — by a factor of five to one.
Conventional approaches to change management underestimate this impact. The rational thinker sees it as a waste of time to let others self-discover what he or she already knows — why not just tell them and be done with it? Unfortunately this approach steals from others the energy needed to drive change that comes through a sense of ownership of “the answer.”