Broken Windows

A: What’s the topic today then?
B: Well following the success of last week’s blog…
A: Define success?
B: Our reader said it was OK.
A: Do continue.
B: I’m going to continue the ‘little known classics of psychology series’ with the ‘Broken Windows Theory’.
A: Sounds exciting.
B: I’ll read how the experiment went; “Some researchers took a nice car, like a Jaguar, and parked it in the South Bronx in New York…”
A: “A nice car, like a Jaguar”? Obviously not a Jaguar but another car like it?
B: Perhaps a ferrari I don’t know.
A: So why not say a ferrari? And anyway a ferrari is nothing like a jaguar.
B: It can be.
A: No way.
B: Some ferraris look like jaguars.
A: Excuse me is this just the 5 minute argument or the full half hour?
B: So anyway; “They retreated back to a duck blind, and watched to see what would happen.”
A: What’s a duck blind? Without the joke.
B: Definition of a duck blind – “A shelter, often camouflaged with reeds and grasses, for concealing duck hunters.”
A: Well. I’ve never been to the South Bronx but I would guess….
B: OK.OK. Perhaps it wasn’t a traditional, standard, bought-at-Woolworth’s duck blind.
A: I guess not.
B: To continue – “They left the car parked there for something like four days, and nothing happened. It wasn’t touched. So they went up and broke a little window on the side, and went back to the blind. In something like four hours, the car was turned upside down, torched, and stripped—the whole works. “
A: And the morale of the theory would be …..
B: “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”.
A: Could you put some words in an order I could understand please?
B: It’s about zero tolerance. It’s about respecting all laws not just the big ones. It’s about not letting litter accumulate otherwise people will just take it for granted.
A: Enough already. And the implications for managers?
B: ?
A: If your staff break a little window kick their head in?
B: Break a little rule, possibly.
A: I see. So if someone gets something slightly wrong you make an example of them – embarrass and shame them so that the others realise it’s a mistake?
B: Maybe not so harshly as that but fundamentally yes that’s what Mr Broken Windows is saying – zero tolerance in the classroom, the office, the Bronx.
A: Scary.
B: When I was training to be a teacher we had a lecturer who would have been a fan of this. He advocated always doing what you threatened to do. Even if you were a bit cross and told one of the kids you would kill them – you had to.
A: A radical approach.
B: He felt you could bring it into the curriculum by studying the French Revolution or something and carry out a public execution…. How we laughed.
A: Is that my tamagotchi I hear beeping for me?

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