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    I agree completely with the point of the article. But one thing I don’t understand: why do people have so much trouble building IKEA furniture? How am I surrounded by such incredibly smart and capable people who, when faced with furniture, can’t follow simple directions? It’s bananas.

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      Yeah, this utterly baffles me. Perhaps it’s a self-reinforcing cycle — building IKEA furniture is said to be difficult, so people find it difficult, so people say it is difficult, so…

      Was it genuinely difficult at one time, but now they can’t escape this trap?

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        I also thought it was easy my whole life and always wondered the same thing, but a few years ago, I had a really hard time assembling a TV unit.

        Looking back, I think the directions were clear, but after a long day at IKEA and late in the evening, all the pieces looked the almost identical. So I ended up drilling holes in the wrong place and had to rebuild it a couple times.

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          I agree on that point, but I also find the lack of shading to be unhelpful sometimes. It’s easy to install things backwards and only notice in later steps because they weren’t explicit about the directionality of some component regarding holes or texture or whatever.

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        It’s especially weird in that IKEA must put a lot of effort into making instructions that are as clear as possible. Granted, they are basically without text of any kind, but I’ve found that they’re generally designed to be clear and unambigous. Where there is symmetry, it’s called out.

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          It’s definitely the case with most no-name furniture kits I’ve bought. Perhaps the Wayfair effect is more correct?

          IKEA is definitely a better experience. Less messing with rough edges or screwing things at odd angles. The instructions are just diagrams for easy localization, but they’re easy to understand.

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            I think you have a will to build it quickly as you know that it should be simple. So you don’t read as carefully as you should, make a mistake and now spend hours debugging your furniture.

            Reminds me something…

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            You should also mention the NIH syndrome.

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              This is illustrative. I’ve always attributed the IKEA effect to “sunk cost” but it’s definitely more than that. Sunk cost assumes you’re actively rejecting alternatives, while the IKEA effect is about being blind to these alternatives.

              I recently added a whole lot of bells and whistles to my site’s static site generator before realizing

              “Wait. This is just a static site generator. All it’s doing is getting from markdown to html and maybe have an index page. I can achieve the same effect without all this configurability.”

              and in the space of an afternoon, removed a few hundred LOC to be replaced with a five line generic page builder function. The hard part was not the decision to change tactics, but realizing there exists a change of tactics.

              Know when to stop: if something doesn’t feel right, gets weirdly complicated to model it in your solution, then it smells bad. Stop and revisit your approach better now than later. Do you find yourself lost? Struggling to find a way to make it work? Maybe the problem is too hard for your level of expertise. There is no shame in this. Communicate it early with your senior experts ask for tips, pair coding, anything that can help you grow your game to be able to fight the beast.

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                On the other hand, if you “outsource” everything, then you cannot build, by definition, anything better than everybody else already has.

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                  This sounds very similar to the escalation of commitment/sunk-cost fallacy, something a lot of businesses struggle with.