Reversing the 1:50 Ratio – A gut-check on values and A response to Greg McKeown

I have been reading some posts in reflection of the passing of Stephen Covey, and was led into some great thoughts from Greg McKeown, and in response to a post about Reversing the Stanford Prison Experiment, I wrote a bit too much and thought I should put it here. I hope you get something beneficial from it. Check it out. 


That must have been a great lunch! Question: Are we looking to “reverse” the experiment or leverage what we’ve learned from it? In other words, we’ve learned that people take on the identity of a role according to the perception they have of that role. Maybe we ought to work on how others see the roles they play in life and the underlying leadership that ties them all together? In salute to Stephen, that is the classic See-Do-Get cycle at work.

Even Zimbardo wrote, “The question now is how to change our institutions so that they promote human values rather than destroy them.”

There are still plenty of organizations that are not interested in human values, businesses included, but give credence to the use of humans as “resources”, as the ill-named and often ill-focused department is often referred to. There are certainly some powerful paradigms behind such notions (which often glide along unexamined on the thin ice of benevolent authority).

Perhaps more startling is the power that one individual, Christina Maslach, had on ending the experiment; The only 1, out of some 50 or so visitors, that openly questioned the moral ethics of what was going on in the experiment. Maybe Christina is the one that ought to have been studied?!

I have met far too many members of management (maybe they are the other 49/50) whose view of the leadership role (from supervisor to husband or father) is often based on their own fears, finding them on the low end of the character continuum and dependent on things other than principles.

At which point do our institutions begin to celebrate human vs. shareholder value?

Perhaps we’ve become confused about, or never really understood to begin with, the difference between the means and the end.

What are our organizations for, anyway?

Keep up the great work,



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