Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Context Power

It's not so much about finding people with the right personal characteristics as it is changing the judgement and decision context

Jennifer Lerner, Kennedy School, quoted in: Madeline Drexler, Science of Decisions, Kennedy School, Winter 2009.

More broadly, I heard a BBC interview with Malcolm Gladwell the other night in which he argued that the inner Malcolm was of little interest; his books sought to understand the environmental cues and supports for human action.

So, can deal with the fact that "anger pervades political culture and many styles of organizational leadership" by changing the contexts in which it occurs. In one of Lerner's experiments, "[b]eing accountable created the conditions by which they [volunteers primed to anger] could consciously monitor their thinking and perceive the issue with more nuance and complexity."

"[I]f any emotion needs to be contextually de-fanged, it's anger."

The challenge is that anger has been driven off the public stage in many cases into the privacy of the backroom, boardroom, and bedroom. How do we bring this sense of accountability into these arenas where anger does it's dirty work without sacrificing other liberties?

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