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The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil -- what this means to teams and the people who lead them

Business guru Guy Kawasaki interviews Dr. Philip Zimbardo who authored the recent book entitled "The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil".  CLICK HERE to read the interview.

Dr. Zimbardo conducted the now (in)famous Standford Prison Experiment in the summer of 1971.  His book discusses in great detail the experiement, it's relevance to Abu Ghraib, and the “banality of heroism.”

In my work with organizations, I seek to build a culture of teamwork NOT just lead a teambuilding workshop.  Creating an organization whose culture can be described as "win-win" is what my work is all about.  For this reason I looked at Abu Ghraib and wondered how a culture of evil was consciously or unconscioulsy created at Abu Ghraib.  When I look at Enron I wonder the same thing - - how is it that a culture of deceit is created.  And conversley, how does one create and nurture a culture of win-win?  Dr. Zimbardo's book describes how this happens.

Kawasaki's last question to Zimbardo is the most exciting to me.  After researching the "benality of evil", Zimbardo is on a new mission to discover how people can become heroes:

Question: Using the same factors that make people do bad things, can you make people do better and better, even heroic, things?

Answer: My new mission in life, my new calling, emerged as I was writing the final chapter of Lucifer. In rethinking Hannah Arendt’s concept of the “banality of evil” as a kind of every normal person’s situationally specific but temporary excursion into the realm of evil, I realized is counterpart was missing.

The “banality of heroism” describes ordinary people who engage in extraordinary deeds of service to humanity—in particular, usually once- in- a lifetime situational setting. Like those doing monstrous deeds that look “terrifying normal,” these ordinary heroes look “delightfully normal.”

So I argue that the very same situation that can inflame the “hostile imagination” in those who become perpetrators of evil can inspire the “heroic imagination” for the first time in any of us. To become a hero involves only two steps on humanity’s path:

Read the entire interview HERE.


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